Psychology Today columnist Peter Gray, in his Freedom To Learn column, on Children Teaching Themselves to Read: the unschoolers’ account of how children learn to read (February 10, 2010), articulates teases out the seven principles of learning to read without schooling:
1. For non-schooled children there is no critical period or best age for learning to read.
2. Motivated children can go from apparent non-reading to fluent reading very quickly.
3. Attempts to push reading can backfire.
4. Children learn to read when reading becomes, to them, a means to some valued end or ends.
5. Reading, like many other skills, is learned socially through shared participation.
6. Some children become interested in writing before reading, and they learn to read as they learn to write.
7. There is no predictable “course” through which children learn to read.
Full text on Psychology Today: Children Teaching Themselves to Read: the unschoolers’ account of how children learn to read