This isn't really the whole truth, well it is, but it isn't. Everything is about perspective. Two of them have taught themselves. Two of them learned at their 3-4 year stint at school. One is yet to read properly, she's 5.
When we say our kids taught themselves to read, at least in my situation, it's not a case of them sitting down learning the phonics or memorising words. It's more a case of them making the choice to read.
For whatever reason they decided they wanted read, or perhaps they realised they could. This is different from setting off on a journey of learning how to read. It just happened. There was no plan apart from choosing to pick up some books to read. They had already naturally learned letter sounds, and knew some words confidently.
Of course, we had spent time with them over the years to help them get to that point. Usually in small chunks, on-demand, or naturally through learning apps or shows that they might watch. They didn't put up with longer periods of time because they simply weren't very interested.
I want to say that I read to them every single day. Or that we had a special system to encourage them to 'love reading'. That would make me look like a great parent. But it's not how it was either. Sometimes we would read a lot. Other times not so much.
Sometimes I'd get lazy and trade reading to them time for extra playtime. Sometimes I'd feel guilty about that, but at the same time, I believed I was just letting them tap into what they were in the mood for
As they got more confident I would use word or sentence card decks for them to practice in the car whilst we made our way to activities. This was not religious, but we kept the decks in the car as a way to pick them up as and when it felt ok.
Sometimes we would sit down and read easy books...it always took a bit of effort from my end and progress always felt really slow when we did it that way. I'm not great at being consistent with these things.
One of my kids got into reading as the pandemic came. I had given him some Dr Seuss stories to read, and he read them without a problem. Around the same time he had also started listening to and really enjoying audiobooks. I think something just clicked in him that he could read and that there was a world of books out there waiting for him (and were also much more interesting than the 'practice' reading books).
It was great timing really, he'd spend hours upon hours reading. We wouldn't see him until midday because he'd wake up and start reading straight away. He went from barely reading to Harry Potter and beyond. He re-read a few series too. Honestly, I lost track. It could have been like 75 books he read in a year.
And he still has that love for reading.
My almost 8 year old started reading a year ago. I had spent time with her. She knew phonic sounds. We had done some practicing of books. But literally one day she decided she wanted to read a specific book, Alice in Wonderland, I think. It had many pages and lots of small letters.
She gives credit to her eldest brother (18 at the time) for teaching her to read because he sat with her and helped her read the first few pages over a few days. She never got past the first few pages, but that was the point of no return.
After that she picked up books around her, easy ones to start with, often grabbing 5-10 at a time and she would just sit and read. Within 6 months she was reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid. All off her own back.
Now she maintains a library of books on her bed, it's quite a scene.
In both cases, what I've noted, is that they made the decisions themselves to read and then it happened easily and quickly.