How to Guarantee Your Son Won’t Learn to Read

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learn to read


I was about to pull my hair out, and my son was near tears. It was reading time again, and as usual, it was not going well. I was frustrated, and he was depressed. What was I doing so wrong?

I had started out so hopeful. I had started him out at 2 1/2 on 100 Easy Lessons and he had learned the first part extremely easily. Now, 4 years later, we were stuck. He knew all his letters and sounds, and had some success at blending words but he was miserable and so was I. What was I to do?

Sound familiar? So often, we get so excited that we push our children along way before they are ready. I had fallen into the trap of putting my son into a box and expecting him to do something on a timeline that for whatever reason, he was simply not mentally ready for.

I am not completely a lost cause, however, and finally realized I just needed to step back and take a break. If I wasn’t very careful I was going to make him hate the very thing I wanted him to love. So, we took a long break from learning to read. Oh, I still worked with him, but removed the pressure to perform, and guess what? It worked!! Three months later, something clicked, and he began reading. It was no longer a fight every time we sat down for reading practice, and he actually got it. Now, 5 months later his reading skills are progressing rapidly. He’s learned more in these 5 months than the 3 years prior that I struggled to teach him to read. So, what have I learned? 



What not to do:

  • Start serious reading learning too early! Yes, it’s ok to teach what they’re ready for, but don’t push it.
  • Make them feel like your approval is dependent on their performance. Seriously, I messed up badly with this.
  • Push, push, push, when you should just STOP! I guess we think quitters never win, but it’s futile to try and teach someone something they aren’t mentally or physically ready to learn.
  • Tie your relationship in with their performance. Enough said. You’ll lose their heart and confidence over something that is really ultimately trivial.


What to do:

  • Chill out! Start slow and give them just a little more information than they need. Don’t drown and overwhelm them.
  • Realize your relationship is WAY more important than any book learning.
  • Step back and take a break when things get hard and frustrating. It will help both of you!
  • Give them things to do and accomplish that they are GREAT at! This builds their confidence, and helps them be willing to tackle the things they aren’t so good at.
  • Never be too perfect to say you messed up and are sorry. This goes a long way.

I just want to reiterate that we only have our children for a short time, to teach, to mentor, to cherish. Remember to keep the most important things of faith and family front and center, and let the others fall in line behind!


Jenny is a wife to her amazing husband of 17 years and stay-at-home momma to 3 kids with another on the way. She blogs at where she is learning that blessings aren’t always convenient.

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"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).