Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Breaking It Down- Reading part 2

Continued from Part 1

The real benefit of the “Noah Book,” though, is that it teaches the phonics rules. I don’t know about you, but when I taught my oldest to read I couldn’t answer all of her “why is that spelled or pronounced that way’s.” This book will give you an idea on how to answer them. You go through the book first and learn the “whys and wherefores“, then, when your child has a problem with a word, simply tell him the relevant rule. When he gets to the lesson that teaches the rule, he will already know it. (and the corollary is true; if you already know the phonics rules, you actually don't need a program at all. Just a bunch of the books you have been reading to your child since birth).

Some basic phonics rules:
Every word (and syllable) has one, and only one, vowel sound.
The vowels are; a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes y.
All the other letters are consonants.
When there are two vowels in a word (or syllable) the first is usually long and the second silent (hate, boat- this is true about half the time).
When the vowel in a word or syllable is at the end, it is usually long (he, she, go, no). If it is at the beginning or in the middle, it is short.
 Oo makes the sounds in the middle of book or boot.
Ow and ou make the sound you make when you get hurt (cow, loud). Usually use ou in the middle of a word and ow at the end. Wnglish words don't end in u
Ey, ay, make the long A sound (they, day).
A followed by an L says ahhh (all, tall).
O and i followed by an n or L is usually long (find gold).
When I is followed by gh, the I is long and the gh is silent. (night, fight)
Ough is pronounced ow, oo, and off, (thou, through, trough)
K before n, w before r, and b after m are silent (knew, write, lamb).
Ph makes an f sound, th makes the sound of your tongue between your teeth, ch makes the sound of a train, sh makes the sound that means be quiet, wh makes a windy w sound (phone, this, thin, church, shoe, wheel).
Y says the sound in yo-yo at the front of a word, the long I sound when it is the only vowel (by), and the long e sound at the end of a word (baby).
Er, ir, and ur make the sound a rooster makes first thing in the morning (her, first, sure).
G followed by an e, i, or y usually sounds like a j (age, gyrate).
C followed by an e, i, or y sounds like an s (cede, city, cycle).

I also use the McGuffey readers with my children (available online for free and through Kindle for really cheap- $1?), but the library should have plenty of easy readers to get you going. 

Have him read to you for ten minutes or so everyday. Don’t quit when he is old enough to begin to get the hang of it. The more he practices the better he will get and reading out loud is the beginning of oratory skills (public speaking). I still have my thirteen year old read to me everyday. She might would mutiny if I suggested quitting as she likes the stories in the fifth McGuffey. This is one of her favorite subjects.

 (Sadly, this is no longer true. At 24 she no longer reads to me and none of the others have enjoyed it as much. I now usually quit when they are reading at a solid 3rd or 4th grade level unless they need more practice with their speaking skills. Of course, I hear them lead the Responsive Reading in our church, where they are learning speech skills as part of our normal life.)

If you are just beginning with a remedial reader, you could have them read a chapter of the Bible to you every day. Begin either in Psalms or Genesis. The King James Version is written at approximately the fifth grade reading level. This is a good place to start. I have heard of parents using it as their only reader to teach even young beginners (Susanna Wesley, mother of John and Charles Wesley, used it with her five year olds.) Just go slow, be patient, help them sound out any words they need help with, no matter how simple they seem to you.

Alternativly, don't teach them to read at all. Teach a remedial student how to spell instead. Every one accepts that they need help with spelling. It's not embarassing at all. Then when they run into a word they can't read you say "What would that say if you had spelled it?" Since spelling is just phonics in reverse, that usually really helps.

If you can afford it or find them at the library, Bob’s Books (from Bob Jones University Press) are very good to have around. A beginning reader can read each phonetically arranged book in one or two sittings all by themselves. They do wonders for a child’s confidence. They are a little silly also. A good thing.

Don’t quit having your older ones read to you just because they can read first grade readers. Continue having them read harder and harder works until they work up to college level. Have them practice their elocution (speech giving) skills while reading; controlling their pronunciation, voice and infliction. This will make public speaking easier when they get older. They won’t have to fear this like most people do.

 As you may have noticed, I have given instructions for phonics, not “See-say” or “Whole language.” See-say (Dick and Jane type books) was first invented to teach deaf children to read, (they have a hard time SOUNDING out words for some reason). 

Someone decided that since it worked so well with deaf kids, it would work with hearing children. 

Typical see-say lessons go like this; “This is the word ‘cat.’ Memorize its shape. This is the word ‘dog.’ Memorize its shape. Now here is a sentence to read, ‘The cat sat on the dog.’ (With a picture above it of a cat sitting on a dog)” One person made the statement “America is the only country with an alphabet based language that insists on teaching reading as if it were Chinese!” The Chinese language has no alphabet (though its government is working on writing one), but one character for each word. Can you imagine having to memorize tens of thousands of characters before you could read more than very simple books? No wonder our children become frustrated and never learn advanced reading. 

In recent years, public schools have changed to what is called “Whole Language.” This method starts with lots of reading to the child (a good thing), but usually treats decoding the same as “See-Say” with only a small phonics icing on top. They usually only teach enough phonics to thoroughly confuse the child; “When there are two vowels in a word the first is long and the second is silent.” Since this is only true about half of the time the child notices all the “exceptions” and ends up dismissing phonics altogether (usually assuming they are just too stupid to really read). The truth is that there are sufficient rules to explain those times that two vowels behave differently, but since most teachers today have never been taught them, they can’t teach their students. Parents can buy books like Noah Webster’s Reading Handbook and teach them to their children and give them an advantage in the long run.

The promoters of Whole Language and See-Say will tell you that their methods get the child reading faster. This is true as long as they don’t run into a word they haven’t memorized yet. The truth is that it takes as much time to learn the letter “c” as it does “cat.” However, by about the third grade when vocabulary ceases to be as tightly controlled in reading material and books quit having pictures, these children suddenly start floundering. Many are diagnosed with learning disabilities; the school gets more money and THEN teaches phonics as a solution to the CHILD’S problem (I think they have the wrong people labeled with a problem.) Many other children simply never learn how to read more than a McDonald’s menu. 

Phonics teaches the tools of reading first, (like learning to crawl before learning to run), and then starts to teach words. It is a little slower to start, but by third grade the child should be reading almost anything an adult can (not necessarily comprehending grown up literature, but they are a whole lot closer than if they couldn’t read it at all. Comprehension will come in time with lots of practice reading and being read to.) 

They have the tools to decode any word they encounter, even if they haven’t seen it before. This is the way I have taught my oldest four (uhhh, seven) children and am currently teaching my youngest (If you count, that leaves one child out. That one that was reading before she was five, I didn't teach at all. She just learned)

I began to teach my oldest to read at age five (she already knew her ABC’s and asked me to teach her). By five and a half, she could read any second grade material she wanted to. Now, at thirteen she is reading a tenth grade reader (the fifth McGuffey) (and as an adult she reads anything she wants including college level and things written in the 1800's). My second child (age ten) just began a sixth grade reader and they both read MY books off the family shelves.(Update: all my children but the four year old (8-24) read anything they want. They are always reading something.)

A note: All children are different. My second child was a little slower to pick up reading (took more than a year) but found math immensely easier than my first did. Another of my children just simply wasn't ready (though we worked on it every day) until she was nearly ten, but then caught up to grade level in less than a year. 

All children are unique and proceed at their own pace in each subject. But then, that is one of the main reasons we are homeschooling, isn’t it?

  • Teach them their letters.
  • Teach them the sounds the letters make.
  • Teach them to blend the sounds into short words.
  • Teach them sight words.
  • Teach them long words.
  • Get them reading real books as fast as possible.
  • Practice regularly.

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