When I started homeschooling, I was drawn to the Sudbury model. While I do not completely follow that model, I do like that they let learner interest drive instruction, and that they divorce mastery of reading from success in all subjects. Where most schools drill reading earlier and earlier (despite research showing this isn’t the best policy), Sudbury model schools allow the child to learn to read at his own pace, with lots of exposure. In most schools, a child who has not mastered reading also will not do well in math, science, history, etc. In a Sudbury school, a child who cannot read can still excel in math, science, history, etc., because those subjects are taught in such a way that reading mastery isn’t required for success.
So I *gasp* didn’t drill reading from an early age. I read to my children all the time, so the exposure is there, but my eldest didn’t read early. By age, he’s now in 3rd grade, and is just now reading confidently. Yet he did well with other subjects, because he didn’t have to read well to do well in other subjects.
There were times when I second-guessed my decision not to drill reading from that early age. But every time I tried to push more, it made both of us frustrated and neither of us enjoyed it. Not only that, but he became self-conscious about it, which never helps with learning something. So I backed off and continued with exposure, but didn’t push if it was too much. He went at his own pace, often learning on his own without me with him. If he’d been in a public school, he probably would’ve been tagged for intervention. But there was nothing wrong, and now, if I can’t find him, I know he’s probably reading a book.
Moral of the story: I’ll continue doing things this way unless and until it no longer works.