ok i have not read all this mammoth thread. right at the beginning someone asked me about the 18 year olds i was talking about who couldn't read. I can think of maybe three. Bear in mind that I am in the UK, where autonomous education is SO common that people are often a little apologetic about using workbooks ;-) and also that I've been around homeschooling all my life, and have known several homeschoolers very well. There was only one that I actually knew well directly, and that was growing up. He totally could not read, I promise. Another was the son of a woman I met at a camp, and he was an absolutely great kid, and she felt strongly that this was because she had never made an issue of learning to read. His social and also artistic skills were both very good. A third was the nephew of a good friend and he was kind of not the poster-child for autonomous education, because this kid really was extremely socially isolated, never saw anyone except his dad, and literally spent all his time in his room playing computer games. ( I should point out here that my friend radically unschools her kids, but she did consider this to be a big issue.)
I suppose I just think for most non-dyslexic kids, leaning to read IS a straightforward activity and absolutely not something requiring several years extreme concentration. I also kind of suspect that a lot of what decides if a child learns at 4 or 12 is actually just interest-and a big part of interest is kind of whether they have anything better to do, or another good way to get information. I think a child who gets to 18 or so, if they don't have any underlying issues, will pick up reading very fast. I'm basing that also on adults I know who've learnt to read as adults. I don't think reading is actually a complex skill set per se.
Oh and I think needing to learn to read in order to learn is a total red herring for homeschoolers. My son, who learnt properly to read at 8, is not behind in anything, believe me. Being British I physiologically am incapable of bragging about my kids, however I do know that he is ahead in maths, and he's certainly doing stuff in science, latin and other subjects using texts designed for older kids. Reading-wise he's now, i'd have thought, looking at what he's reading, ahead of his age group, and increasing the gap. This experience is SO incredibly common among homeschoolers. Our kids don't NEED to read to learn, there are SO many other ways that they can learn.
Off to read more of this huge thread
OK ETA it is SO true that not reading is not a social problem among HE'd kids. My kids don't really know who can read and who can't-only who likes books and who doesn't (and there is NO shame in listening to books rather than reading them yourself, as far as I can see). They like talking about books, and its quite an important thing among their group of friends, but they don't sit down and talk about reading itself. Why on earth would they? What has occasionally been an issue is whether a child has ANOTHER skill, eg whether they can ride a bike (homeschooled kids do seem to learn to ride stupidly early, like 3). HE'd kids are certainly not always kind, and they are at times ridiculously competitive, like all kids, but they are usually quite pragmatic and are unlikely to turn down a good conversation. My own child found not reading hard, not because anyone else was making an issue of it, but because he loved books.
ETA2 Yes the big concern I have, having been through this, is that underlying issues may not be spotted. I dunno, I don't think this is generally a huge problem among homeschoolers but I think there are red flags that reading is likely to be a problem long term, and it can be helpful to be aware of them. We don't have access to a HE friendly dyslexia assessment centre locally, or free testing, as ds would certainly have had in a school, those are the things I think could help. I do also think that kids who suffer from a recognised disability do have a right to know that they are not stupid, and that their reading problems are physiological, not a lack of application.
ETA3 round here, families who I'd say are socially isolated are mainly those with very demanding structured schedules which precludes group attendance. But the UK might be different. I live in a small city, not in a densely populated area, and within a 40 minute drive I have at least 9 groups meeting weekly. One of these is structured and two offer optional drop in activities, all except the structured group operate not to clash with unschooling ideas, iyswim.
just saw this huge thread... but i want to answer the original question, which is whether kids can "teach themselves" to read (meaning without direct instruction, as pp's defined in the course of the thread).
i'd say yes. i've seen this happen in montessori settings, where they call it an "aha moment," when the actions of being read to and playing with letters is synthesized. no one offers direct instruction, like phonics, etc. as in public school, but all of a sudden the factors line up and there is understanding and reading seems to just "happen."
also, this happened to me. i was an early reader, i actually remember the aha moment i had -- i could then read anything, newspapers, adult books, etc. i was four, and not schooled, living with my grandma, and was pretty much unschooled in that environment at that time-- i was read to a whole lot, though. i was also extremely motivated. i had a burning desire to learn to read...
so in my experience, that is the main factor involved: whether a child has the desire and motivation to read, whether that is important to the child.
otherwise, honestly, if a child is oh.. six or seven, being unschooled and hasn't learned to read, i would consider instruction, or some other sort of intervention; but too, the importance of reading to me personally is pretty high. so to answer the original question, then, i don't think that ALL kids will learn on their own, since it does depend on motivation (and ability)...
Is it getting lonely in the echo chamber yet?
hildare, thanks for your post, honestly though its BECAUSE reading is SO important to me that I think its important to wait til that aha moment. It is SO common for kids to go from non-reading to reading at and beyond grade level, and IMO this is because homeschooled kids who don't learn to read til later are still learning OTHER skills that are important to reading. Some of these, such as listening skills, could be killed, I think, by early reading in some kids. (I remember when I learnt to read that the pictures in my brain were replaced by words, and for me that was early, around 2 1/2. I'm not convinced that was a great thing)
I tried FOREVER to try to teach my oldest to read. It was AWFUL. She'd see a word like "cake" and see the c and start saying cat, car, kite? I thought it was kind of funny, because my MIL, the Patron Saint of Teaching, tried to teach her and I could hear the FRUSTRATION in my MIL's voice.
So...I just put it off. I didn't learn to read until 1st grade (at 7) and back in the day, 2nd was pretty common, too. I figured that she loved books so, eventually, we'd figure this out.
My daughter, on her 7th birthday, sat down on the couch, opened an Amelia Bedilia chapter book and read it aloud. I couldn't decide if I wanted to pee my pants or pass out.