When we left Belgium, the Princess was 5. At that time, in my office in Brussels, there was a very annoying intern. His mother came to visit. She was a primary school teacher. I told her that we were moving back to Ireland and she asked about the Princess’s reading ability. I confessed that she couldn’t read. The intern’s mother was shocked and pointed out that the intern had been able to read well before starting school. She commented that the Princess would be miles behind and would never catch up. I was concerned, of course I was. I spent hours with herself, trying to teach her how to read which was torture for both of us and a completely wasted effort.
Back in Dublin, she started in senior infants [the second year of Irish schooling] and had a lovely teacher who assured me that she would be fine and was utterly unfazed by the Princess’s inability to read. At the start of the year the Princess could neither speak Irish nor read, by the end of the year, she could do both. A triumph for the virtues of the Irish education system. The fact remains that she was nearly 6 when she learnt to read which is on the late side of the spectrum. But she loves to read. Recently I asked her, “What are you reading?” and she replied “I’m re-reading Little Women as a palate cleanser between Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice.” Never catch up indeed, hah! I might add that she is reading aloud Georgette Heyer’s Arabella for my mother whose eyesight is not good. Hah again!
What was the advice, you ask? Don’t worry, when your child starts to read, it is, in my experience, no indication at all of future reading habits. So there.