When Will My Child Read?

Boy ReadingWhen Will My Child Read?  By Donna Ashton

One of the biggest concerns of homeschoolers and especially Waldorf-inspired homeschoolers is reading.  It’s a big milestone moment when a child makes the connections between letters and sounds and reads.

In a Waldorf environment, reading begins by writing letters, walking letter shapes, using a finger in the air or in sand.  Letters are introduced through stories & fairytales.

Rudolf Steiner believed that academics including reading shouldn’t be taught before a child begins to lose their baby or milk teeth. (around age 6 1/2-7)

“People will object that the children learn to read and write too late. That is said only because it is not known today how harmful it is… Reading and writing as we have them today are really not suited to the human being till a later age.. The more a child is blessed with not being able to read and write well before this age, the better it is for the later years of life. A child who cannot write properly at thirteen or fourteen is not so hindered for later spiritual development as one who early, at seven or eight years can already read and write perfectly.”-Rudolf Steiner, The Kingdom of Childhood

From my own experience with twins, I found that this was spot on.

One of my daughters has lost quite a few teeth before and during 1st grade. The other had not.  The one who had lost the teeth was eager and ready to learn to read.  In fact, I was surprised how easily (Read: effortlessly) it all happened.

The other had basically no interest.  End of story.  She went along with all the stories and learned her letters.  She wrote out all the fairy tale summaries.  But it just didn’t “click.”

I wasn’t sure what to do, but I felt pushing was not the way to go.  I backed off.

The summer between first and second grade she began losing her teeth like crazy!  And guess what? The reading happened shortly after. Amazing!  She is now my voracious reader. (reading on an 8th/9th grade level).

Sometime we just have to relax and let nature take it course.  I have heard of many children not fluently reading until 2nd and 3rd grade.  It is OK.

Your child will learn to read.

Hopefully this approach of “not pushing” will foster a love for reading.  It will surely make it much easier for you as the teacher to give the tools needed when the child is ready.

Do you have a similar (or opposite) situation?  Please share your story below.



  1. Jennifer Schulz says

    I have a 6 1/2 yr old girl who lost her first tooth (and has since lost a total of 6) when she was only 5 yrs old. She is truly in no hurry to learn how to read and although she knows her alphabet and the sounds for most letters (we are finishing up our 2nd late Kindy year but she learned her letters when she was 4 in preschool), it is still very much a struggle for her and I don’t really “work” with her because I am waiting until next Fall. I have read that losing the milk teeth is only 1 of many things to look for in assessing reading readiness.