Dyslexia Means He Won’t “Read When He’s Ready”

Tears. Last year was the year of tears.

It was the year of me secretly wishing he would actually want to go to “real” school and truly like it.

It was also the year I knew he could not actually go to real school because I knew he could not read.

Last year we fought and bargained and lost hours of potential fun to no fun. Not any.

It was the first year we didn’t run off to the Botanic Gardens or the forest preserve just for the heck of it.

It was the first year we never had time to do fun science experiments because we couldn’t get through any lesson that involved reading.

I would say, “We will sit here until you read this.” And he would say, “Fine.” And 4 hours later, it was time to make dinner and we’d be sitting there staring daggers at each other.

Last year, other wonderful, homeschooling moms, would say, “Don’t worry, he’ll read when he’s ready.”

Last year, I knew that wasn’t true.

Last year, I said things in exasperation like, “Come on Isaiah, just try!” and “You know how to spell that, we just did it!” and “I am not going to read this for you, I know you can do it.”

And yet, I knew he couldn’t. I knew he couldn’t but I didn’t want to believe it. I wanted to believe it was my fault, that I had failed as a teacher. I wanted to believe what everyone had told me, “When he’s ready, it will click.”

It did not click.

Last year, there was an elephant in the living room, and that elephant was Dyslexia.

This year, with a new school year looming, denial was no longer an option. With the threat of another year of tantrums, and tears, I stepped outside of my comfort zone to seek an answer. I believed I saw the signs of dyslexia, but my heart was conflicted.

dyslexia wont read when ready

This year began with an apology. “Isaiah, I am so sorry for all of the times I pushed you to read when you couldn’t. I want you to know that it is not your fault, it was not because you weren’t smart enough. You are so brilliant in so many ways, but your brain is missing the decoder for reading words that are written on paper. It is because you are so amazing and talented that I thought you should be able to read.”

“Mommy, I wish you had tried to find out that I was dyslexic earlier. I wish that you would have thought of it before. It was so hard for me when you would make me try to read, and I just couldn’t. But you wouldn’t let me not read. I was so mad at you for not helping me.”

“I know baby, I am so sorry. I don’t know what to say, except this year will be different. This year we will get back to doing the things we loved so much in homeschooling. We will do crafts again, and go on field trips, I will read you your math questions and it will be so much more fun.”

Already, I felt he was on to something else. “You know mommy? There should be some sort of invention, a computer program that has children read, and listens to them read. It should know, just how they are reading, and it will say to their mommy (in a computer voice) ‘This child has dyslexia.’ You know what mommy? Maybe with my amazing inventor brain, I will invent something that will help kids with dyslexia, something that will help parents know sooner. What do you think about that?”

“Well, I think that is a brilliant idea, and I know you can do it.”


5 thoughts on “Dyslexia Means He Won’t “Read When He’s Ready”

  1. Excellent title! Thank you for writing this! I can’t begin to count how many times I have heard this advice over and over and over. Even though it might be true for many, it certainly is not true for all. Parents, if your child is struggling, look up the signs of dyslexia to see if they align with other things that are going on with your child. They might very well indicate why your child is struggling.

    Parents can also be informed that when children have dyslexia, the most effective type of instruction is Orton Gillingham based. One of the best programs of Orton-Gillingham is the Barton reading and spelling system. It is designed especially for parents to teach to their children. Check out the demo at the Barton reading website. Even though it is expensive, it comes with a DVD that trains you how to teach the program. That is the most critical component of Orton Gillingham. Without appropriate training, the instruction is generally watered down. Also, Barton is far cheaper than hiring a tutor!

  2. Unfortunately, years ago, I was one of the homeschool moms who listened to the “better late than early” experts. While the “he’ll do it when he’s ready” mantra may hold true for some, in our case it did such damage that our homeschool experience holds no good memories but only regrets. We did try to find help, but there never seemed to be anything that really made a difference. The result? A bright yet jaded young man who looks back on homeschool with bitterness, and who will not even consider further schooling based on those past experiences. (I don’t blame him.) Moms, listen to that inner prompting! Don’t make the same mistakes I did! 😦
    (Our son’s name is also Isaiah. This article really touched a raw nerve.)

  3. There is nothing in this article to show he won’t read when he’s ready; just that he wasn’t ready when the author (and schools) believe he should be. My dyslexic child was not ready until 11 or 12 (many long years into the ‘can’t go to real school’ window). Then, with no formal intervention, no O-G outlaying of cash, not even a reading curriculum beyond our first attempt with 100 Easy Lessons years earlier… she became a voracious reader. I think she used Leap Frog’s Tag reader, all on her own, combined with a desire to text her friends. Now I have to threaten to ban books from her room so that she goes to sleep at night, and spends time with the rest of the family during the day!

    I am not suggesting that this will definitely happen with every kid, but for those of you with negative experiences waiting it out, how did that work, exactly? Did you continue pushing lessons for years? Or did your child just never learn to read? How do you know they won’t read when they are ready, rather than just not able to read when you would like them to be ready?

    I don’t want to screw over my older child’s younger siblings by not pushing the reading if there is a lot of experience out there where they can’t learn to read when they are older. But homeschooling allows non-readers to continue their education without that skill in place, and that has really worked well for us (except for the stress of being accused of educational neglect). This article and comments have not really done anything to support the assertion that kids with Dyslexia won’t ever be ready. I am really looking for more information, so I can tell the difference.

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