by Cheryl Jackson Friday January 15, 2010

I vividly remember helping my first child learn to read. The other two, not so much. I think I was too busy.  But my first child?  I remember the anxiety, the pressure, the tears, the hope.  With your first child especially, learning to read can be fraught with anxiety. How do you know if they're on track?  What is 'on track' anyway? When should you worry? When should you seek help?

My first child was not too interested in reading in kindergarten. He wanted to be playing, and my insistence on getting through his small reading books created much frustration. Despite that, he was reading children's chapter books by the time he was in Grade Two, on his own, since I was busy with two other kids by then.  It turns out we'd been doing some things right.  We read to him and his sisters every day and especially every night before bed and we all went to bed with books. But even that's not enough for some kids, who may have problems that must be addressed. 

Our guests on When Should Kids Learn to Read said most kids do learn to read by age 7 or 8, somewhere around there. Of course, there will be some kids who are reading Jane Austen at age 5, but don't  compare. That's not the norm. On the other hand, if your child is still struggling with age-appropriate reading at the age of 7 or 8, it's time to get some help, and the earlier the better. Although it's never too late to learn to read, a child who learns much later than his peers will suffer from that gap for a very long time.  Spider Jones can attest to that.  He learned to read while in jail, in his mid-twenties, and it changed his life. You can hear his story, and get some expert advice, on Your Voice.