How long does it take to learn to read? It does not take four years, starting at age three or four. It takes about thirty hours. That’s right, only one hour a week for less than one school year. In John Holt’s book, Learning All the Time, he mentions teachers proving this with poor, illiterate adults. Holt argues that reading is not hard to learn IF it is a stress-free environment and there is a loving, supportive adult around.
Testing this out
I wanted to see if this was true. I calculated how long it would take to teach a child to read using one of two reading programs.
First, I looked at Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Engelmann. The claim is that, if you use take twenty minutes for each lesson, by the end of the book, your child will be reading at a solid second grade level. Well, that ends up being about 30 hours of instruction.
The next program I looked at was Delightful Reading by Lanaya Gore. This is a Charlotte Mason based reading program. There are forty-six lessons and they recommend spending only ten to fifteen minutes a day doing a lesson, spreading it over multiple days if needed. If each lesson is spread over three days at ten minutes a day, it would take 28 hours to finish the program. Again, your child would be reading fluently at a solid second grade level.
Do your own calculations and see if this is true for the program you’ve chosen. It has to be strictly reading, though. I started to do the calculations for Learning Language Arts Through Literature by Common Sense Press and realized that it was not a good example because it didn’t strictly teach reading.
Some important caveats
Please do not take this information and apply it to your four-year- old. It probably won’t work. Here are some things that are necessary if your child is going to be successful with this.
- A stress-free environment. I once saw a parent quizzing their four-year-old daughter in a grocery store. She asked her father what some of the signs said and his reply was, “Read them! What does it say?” This is not the way to help your child learn to read.
- Lots of print in the house. Notice I did not say picture books. If reading is important, then children need to see that it is important. Be sure to have lots of books, magazines, newspapers, and other reading material in your home and be sure they see you using it.
- Wait until the right age. Some little kids learn to read, but most won’t be ready until they are six or seven years old. Unless they are begging to learn, don’t push too soon. The longer you wait, the readier they’ll be.
- Read to them often. This goes without saying. Help them fall in love with stories that they will want to read for themselves. Creating a desire is essential.
Teaching my children to read was one of the most rewarding experiences in my homeschooling journey. But, most of them didn’t read at five years old. The more I pushed, the less interested they became and the more my late readers avoided reading altogether. Don’t make that mistake. It really does only take 30 hours.
Are you curious to see how long it takes to learn K-6 math? Check out this popular post.
How did this post surprise you or encourage you? Please share below.