How my Son Ended up with a 740 SAT Critical Reading Score Instead of Going to a Military Boarding School

The short answer is I don’t know.

I mean about the 740 part. I do know about the not going to military school part. At age eight, reading had become such a battle, tears, angry words, no progress, the works. I don’t remember what we were actually trying to do but I do remember that it wasn’t working. I was so frustrated with his lack of progress that I called a friend, who of course, wasn’t there to answer, and left a message asking why I was homeschooling Ethan instead of sending him to military school. By the time she called back, I had calmed down and was ready to pursue homeschooling for another day.

He Just Didn’t Read

The problem was that reading is such a basic skill. You need to read to do just about anything else “school workish.” Making things worst was that everyone had been telling us after he started talking that he would be reading by age three since he had such a great vocabulary.

Well, he didn’t.

When we pulled him out of school after first grade, the teacher told us he was reading at a second grade level. I wasn’t sure what that meant but I did know that he didn’t seem to be progressing from that point. And whatever I was doing to try to make him read only seem to make thing worst.

What Got Us Through Reading Each Day

I finally came across a book called “Reading Rescue 1-2-3: Raise Your Child’s Reading Level 2 Grades with This Easy 3-Step Program” and it saved our homeschooling days from becoming a series of battles over reading. (If you buy the book from this link, I will get paid as an Amazon affiliate.) The author, Peggy M. Wilbur, limits the reading lessons to only 30 minutes broken down into even shorter tasks, many as short as five minutes. She says the goal is to leave the task before they get tired of it. We could do the 30 minutes of reading lessons a day without  the dread and conflict. It was fast and it was over.

Did it raise Ethan’s reading level by two grades as promised? I really can’t say since he still didn’t read anything else. We had started him early with audio books, so he was always listening to books. And since his interests in history were way above his supposed reading level anyway,  I read the texts to him. As for video games, he seemed to muddle his way through them.

It was really hard to hear about how everyone else’s kids were reading Harry Potter and mine was “only” listening to it. I knew that research shows that kids learn to read around age seven, give or take three years. Most people are only interested in the short side of that fact, learning to read at age four rather than the part that says some will learn to read at age ten. I also knew that boys tend to start reading later than girls but it was still hard. How could a child of parents whose idea of a good time was to go to a bookstore on the weekend not want to read?

He Started Reading

And then he started reading. I can’t say exactly with what or precisely when but I think it was probably video games around age eleven. Maybe he just got tired of asking us what certain words meant. I don’t know. I do know that he was reading the instructions for the math assignments instead of asking me what to do and that I could get him to read the comics on his own for practice. We joined a literature discussion group for kids and it was still a lot of me reading out loud and him following along but it worked. In high school, I started to pile on the reading and he kept up without too much complaining.

He was reading for his classes. He took the SAT for the first time in the fall of his junior year and got a 690. When he retook it in June, it was a 740. And I really can’t point to a particular program that got him to read. Remember, I said the Reading Rescue book just made the reading lessons doable, I can’t really say how much they contributed to his later reading ability.

The thing is, he would still rather listen to book than read it himself. We have a subscription to And I still like reading out loud to him. We aren’t both on the sofa anymore, he’s sprawled out with his too long limbs hanging off while I’m in another chair, but it’s stilled a shared experience that I enjoy and he seems to at least tolerate.

What Does Mean?

So what’s the moral of the story? Keep trying different things until you find something that works? Of course, at some point you would need to include checking for learning disabilities as part of the search. You don’t have to be on grade level for all subjects to be homeschooling successfully? Homeschooling isn’t always easy? Kids will drive you nuts whether you are homeschooling or not. The advantage of homeschooling is that you don’t have a school administration complicating matters.


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