Literacy Gap

“Here’s a fascinating fact,” she said. “There is no literacy gap in home-schooled boys and girls.”

The above is almost a throw away line in a Fox News story about the gender gap in learning which favors girls over boys.

I read about it originally at The Common Room, but, aside from repeating it to my husband, I didn’t think much about it.

Then I read it again at Spunky Homeschool where she tells about her son’s experience and asks this question: “Why do you think homeschooled students don’t have the same literacy gap that public schooled students have?”

I know! I know! Call on me, Spunky.

My youngest son was like her oldest. He didn’t learn to read at age five, when we were doing kindergarten. He didn’t learn to read at age six, when we were doing first grade. He didn’t learn to read at age seven…

How was he doing school? I was reading all his assignments to him and writing his answers down. We were doing projects that related to his topics, just as we had when he was 3 and 4, which allowed him to learn without being able to read and write.

Finally, when he was nine (or maybe ten), he wanted to read. He wanted to read a novel I wasn’t interested in. And it was way above his ability, since he couldn’t read at all and this book was at least ninth grade level.

By that time I thought he COULD read if he wanted to (not enough for the book he wanted, but something), so I bribed him. For every page, then every easy to read book, then every chapter of a chapter book, I would read to him a chapter from this book I wasn’t interested in. (This was a honking long novel.)

And that’s how he began reading. It was a February; I remember that even if I don’t remember if it was 2001 or 2002.

Notice that it hasn’t been very long since then. How is his reading now? He reads voraciously. He has read five or six of the adult nonfiction books I have on shelves in the living room this summer. He has read twenty or so other nonfiction books which he purchased himself. He reads fiction for me, but not much for himself. He tests at “post high school” in reading.

BUT if my son, my smart son, my incredibly gifted son who reads and writes like a mother’s dream (although his handwriting would only be a doctor’s mother’s dream!), had been in public school, he would have been in special education classes. He would have been labeled something that was not true. I doubt he would be reading where he does now because he is one of those kids who believe what you tell them. If they had told him he wasn’t smart, he wouldn’t have been smart.

I was willing to wait when I needed to and push him when I thought he was ready. (Note: I pushed my eldest at age 6. That’s when he was ready to read.)

We bought the novel on tape that summer, lots of money- more than I would have thought I had normally, and the boys listened to it as we drove across the country. I was tired of the book, but not tired of the quiet and lack of boredom from my boys. I’m all for books on tape.

One thought on “Literacy Gap

  1. From your story, it sounds like we share a similar experience with our two sons. Thanks for sharing.

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