I was worried , not much but a little, that my daughter would read VERY late. My worry stemmed mostly for Jade (now 10) because she was starting to be concerned herself that she wasn't reading yet since so many of the kids she knew did read. I'm not worried any more and neither is she, because she can read! She really can. In the last few weeks it seems to have really clicked for her. She picks up her favorite cook books and figures out most of the recipes on her own.
A few days ago I realized she made cookies with a new cook book (a new one for her ) and did not ask me once for help to make the cookies or to read the recipe. Another day she walked into the the living room reading a book, 101 Bunny Jokes.
So how did this all happen? I think she learned on her own with my help. Sometimes I hear unschoolers saying their children learned to read "on their own." Sometimes this is true. There are the kids who just follow along when you read and figure it out without any help or so its seems. Yet even that child might not have learned to read (or might likely have learned to read much later) if they did not have parents who read to them. Children who are bathed in print will learn how to read. Some will want you to read words to them over and over again before they learn to read. Some will figure it out as you read to them. Some might like to understand how to sound words out and some like to learn how to spell words.
Jade was VERY particular at how she wanted my help. When she was very serious about figuring out the words she ONLY wanted me to read the word she didn't know. She would get very mad at me if told her words she knew or wanted to figure out on her own. She asks me over and over again a word she doesn't know and eventually she recognizes the word. She also write notes and asks me how to spell the words. When she reads aloud I have noticed she does sound out some words but that is NOT how she likes me to help her. When she doesn't know a word she just wants me to read it.
Learning to read is a process. Some kids learn it quickly and some learn it over time. Jade learned to read over the last 2 years. It's not like she worked on it everyday for the last 2 years. It was more like a little bit her and a little bit there. She might a spent a month here and there reading some books or reading stories on starfall. Then other times she isn't doing much reading but she is writing bit. Some it she is writing herself while asking me to spell the words she doesn't know and sometimes I'm transcribing stories for her.
I think the best part of her owning the experience and me there as support is her excitement when she has read something on her own. She exclaims: "I read it on my own! I can read!"