Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Breaking It Down- Reading Part 1

O.k. you are doing the best you can to do all the above. Now what? 

I’m going to give instruction from the youngest age on. If you have an older child that can’t read or can’t read well, you can adjust this to meet his needs, speed it up or what ever you feel is the best way to help your child. You do know him best after all. Ask God and He will help you to know what to do.

If you find out you have made a mistake somewhere, ask God to forgive you; if appropriate ask your child for forgiveness; then go on from there. We have all made mistakes. Kids are remarkably resilient and can handle a lot of mistakes without permanent harm. Don’t keep kicking yourself, and don’t give up. You can do this.

Saturate your child in the ABC’s. 
Sing them to him when you change his diaper, cook dinner, drive in the car, rock him to sleep and clean the house. 
Point out letters in the store and on the road. 
Show him how to write his name. 
If you have alphabet blocks or magnets, find a few minutes to play with him once a week or more, until his attention wanders. 

If you start this at birth, your child should pretty much know the alphabet somewhere between three and five. 

They are ready to read when they can follow a story line, some where between three and seven, usually, though some kids don't really "get it" until as late as 9 or 10. This doesn't mean there is anything wrong with them. They are just advancing in other areas ahead of schedule.  

Though Sesame Street, et al, do teach the ABC’s I don’t really recommend a lot of time watching them. The time could be used much more efficiently and TV watching, especially in the early years, can lead to trouble concentrating. Besides, Sesame Street has gone very far to the left, politically. An occasional classical episode (check youtube) is fun, but I wouldn't let them watch the new ones or very many of the old ones.

Now for your first big expenditure of money; go to the grocery or dollar store and buy one pack of 3x5 cards and a black or blue marker. 

On the first card write a capital “A” on one side and a lowercase “a” on the other. 

On the second card put a “B” on the front and a “b” on the back. 

The next card gets “C’s”, and so on. 

Now show the cards to your little one, one at a time saying the letter’s name. I do the lower case alphabet first and if I still have his attention I go through the capitals. Sometimes I show him both the upper and lower case at the same time. Do this once or twice per day (ten minutes per session, tops).

(By the way, I don’t give them a choice about this after their fifth birthday. They must do school everyday just as they must eat their veggies and take a bath. If you ask if they want to do school, they will inevitably tell you no. Just make it a part of life that neither of you have a choice in.)

When you can hold up a card and your child can tell you the name of the letter, he is ready for the next step.

I generally find out how much he knows by playing games, like saying the wrong name of a letter I think he knows so he can correct me, or making a second set of cards and having him match the upper case letters to the lower case letters.(and if he giggles and tells you the wrong name, he know it!)

Don’t worry if he gets his b, d, p, q, g, x, and k’s mixed up. These letters are very similar in shape, and, after all, you are still Mommy even if you are facing left instead of right or standing on your head. Why should a “b” be any different? It often takes awhile for the difference to sink in and I have never met a child that didn’t confuse these letters and reverse others. It does not mean he is dyslexic, only young. 

If he is, oh, 10 or twelve and still can’t tell the difference after several years of careful explaining and pointing out the difference, get him professional help (But don’t assume the public schools have spent years pointing out the difference to your older child. It is entirely possible for a child to reach his teens with no one explaining the differences in letters and the child just thinking he is stupid).

Next step; remember all those “cow says ‘moo,’ dog says ‘woof,’” books your child made you read? Remind your child of some of these animals. Then show him the “A” flash card. Say its name. Then tell him “just like the cow says ‘moo,’ the “A” says /ă/ (the short sound of “a” as in apple).” (Honestly, I don’t have a firm dividing between teaching the letter names and sounds. I often tell them both from the beginning. This is no more confusing than teaching them cow and “moo” at the same time). 

Introduce the sound of each letter. Use the most common sounds; the short sounds for the vowels (the beginning of apple, egg, igloo, ostrich, and umbrella) the /k/ sound of “c”, and the “gate” sound of “g”. You can teach the blends (th, ch, sh, ph) now or later; whichever seems easier to you.I usually wait.

75% of the time, vowels use their short sounds. 20% of the time they use their long sound, (say their name). This means any one who can recognize these two sounds for each vowel, the major sound of each consonant, and the most common blends can read the vast majority of the words, in the English language.

After your child can tell you the sounds most of the letters make in random order, you can lay the “a” and “t” cards on the table, (floor, couch, bathtub, dashboard, wherever you want to practice). 

Have them tell you the sound of “a” and then “t.” Say the sounds after them only faster. Get excited and tell them that’s a word. “/a/, /t/, Hey, that’s the word ‘at!’ Can you read that? Ăăăttt!” Encourage them to point to each letter and sound out “at”. (The order of the words is not really important. If their name were Jon, for example, you could start with ‘on’ and go to Jon’ instead. It would tickle most children to be able to really read their own name.) 

When they are successful, praise them. If they don’t quite get it, encourage them. If after several tries over several days, they still don’t get it, go back a step for a few weeks. They are not ready yet.

When they have “at” down, add a “c” to the front and sound out “cat”. Excitedly encourage them to sound that out. Then change the “c” to a “b”. Keep going until he can read all the “at” words you can think of. Then change the “a” or “t” to an “i” or “n”. Continue like this until he gets tired (probably 5-20 minutes, depending on his mood. And if he needs to run or stand on his head while you do this, that's ok too. Movement sometimes helps littles, especially boys, to concentrate).

Do this once or twice per day for two or three days (or until you can’t think of any other words to spell this way), then find a simple book; (Dr. Seuss “Bright And Early” readers are good. Your library should have a section of them. So are Bob’s Books and any of the major curriculum publisher’s [i.e. Abeka] early readers.) 

Have your child read the words he knows. Help him sound them out if you know he can but hesitates, which he will do at first. You read the words he has not yet learned to sound out.

By the way, he may be able to read some words perfectly today and not remember ever seeing them before by tomorrow. This is normal for this young of a child. Just keep on and he will permanently remember eventually.

There are a few words (the, come, said, etc.) that are not completely phonetically correct or that follow such advanced rules that an earlier reader can not sound them out, yet they show up regularly in early reading books. If you want, you can put these on flash cards. Tell your child these are disobedient words that don’t follow the rules, so you just have to memorize them. Practice until they get them (I usually just practice them whenever we run across them in our reading; “Remember, that is a word you have to memorize.” I've even been known to spank the word if it is causing lots of trouble.)

I recommend you buy Noah Webster’s Reading Handbook. Soft back, published by Christian Liberty Press. Check or several of the eclectic homeschool catalogs also. Abeka’s Reading Handbook is an updated version of this book. It costs about $15.00. 

The “Noah book” as we call it in my home, will give one page drills to have your child read to you, starting with the alphabet and continuing to portions of the King James Bible. The lessons are systematic and easy. 

(Update: There are several equally good books along the same line; Phonics Pathway, The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading, Teach Your Child to Read in 101 Easy Lessons, and more. They are all pretty good as long as they teach phonics. I do NOT recommend the $100-200 programs. They look complicated and are way too expensive for a subject that is really simple to teach. I even have one child that between (the free version) and eavesdropping on her older sister's lessons, was reading by the time she was about 4 1/2. I didn't really need any program for her.

I also want to repeat an observation made by a more experienced homeschooler; many parents start teaching reading with one program and their child hits a plateau and quits learning. The parent gets frustrated and buys another curriculum about the time the child is ready to progress anyway. After about the third program, the child is reading and the parent sings the praises of that third program. Really, though, the child would have learned just as well with the first program and patience. 

I have one late bloomer that did this. Finally, it was just me making her practice reading to me every day (I let her pick the book, even) that finally pushed her over the hump.

It is difficult to know, sometimes, if you have simply hit a plateau or if you need to change programs. This is a time to do a lot of praying.)


No comments:

Post a Comment