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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Teaching Reading {part three}: Our Story... Just relax!

>>> Fast forward several years to the day my daughter turned five...

If you've read my previous posts here and here, it goes without saying that I now approached this whole area of teaching reading with much fear and trembling. I no longer expected it to be something every child learned by six years of age.

So, admirably, when she turned five, you can guess what I did...  NOTHING! Hah! What a relief!
We kept on the path of learning we'd been happily ambling along... you know the living kind of learning that is really hard to pinpoint or label by subject. She knew her alphabet, and myriads upon myriads of other things. Halfway through the year I decided I'd better get going on teaching her phonograms (as a game... always playing!). By the time she was six and a half, she was quite solid on all her phonograms as well as lots of the spelling rules from having heard her older brothers work.

Shortly after she turned seven she up and decided to read. I gave her a blend phonics book with 'real words' and we sat down several times to work on blending the sounds she already knew.  She played around a lot on her own with her words making sentences and after a few weeks she'd read most of Helen Treadwells early reader books. She really wanted to start into a chapter book right away, so she determinedly worked through the Sarah and Paul books (Patricia St.John), with several more books on her waiting list!

Honestly, I really didn't do anything fancy but listen and prompt letter/word games, a tiny bit of blending practice, and help when she had a question! We are currently still working on building speed and accuracy through practice (mostly on her own, but also with the same reading lessons I will outline later), but OH! what a difference!

However, still not overly confident, I just chalked that success up to the fact that girls are generally quicker in the whole language skills category in these early years. Yadda, yadda, yadda. And still looked tremulously toward the day when I would teach my next aspiring reader.

My youngest boy is now turning six in a few days. We decided to go ahead and work on his phonograms in a relaxed sort of way a couple of months ago because HE wanted to. So, little by little we'd play memory games with the phonogram cards (I use Spell to Write and Read's wonderful materials), mix in a little refrigerator magnets play, no writing, just relaxed, 5 minutes a couple of times a day kind of thing. The older kids take pride in teaching him too, which of course he relishes sweetly. At some point, he recalled that our daughter upon finishing memorizing her phonograms got to celebrate with an ice cream sundae. That was it. He had the first 26 flawlessly memorized within a couple of days. :)
Ice cream is such a motivator!

That was about month or so ago. Today, he finished reading his second Frog and Toad book. Oh my. He's gone off and taught himself too! Of course, there are a lot of practice hours ahead, but for goodness sakes, why didn't anyone tell me anything about this relaxed method?   When a child wants to learn, they'll teach themselves if there's no one else!  Of course, we laid the foundation... he just picked up from there.  We are still doing reading lessons, as I will talk about in another post. But, once again, I did nothing extravagant!

Now, I realize there are learning difficulties out there. I even have a feeling that my eldest is perhaps rather visual-spatial (which is not really a difficulty in itself, if we as mothers understand it and can artfully teach to it). I think every one of us have to thoughtfully evaluate our own children. But in ordinary circumstances, even though learning to read as we are told is a very complex skill, perhaps it isn't something we need to freak out about teaching... maybe it's something that comes kind of naturally given a good basic foundation and a somewhat relaxed approach? Hmmmm.

I've come to realize, especially having to think back in order to write these posts, homeschooling has required my utmost when it comes to problem solving and creativity.  Perhaps sometimes it is simply figuring out what NOT to do that will save us. What a challenge we have!  I'm not an expert.  I'm just here to tell our story, show what we've learned from Charlotte Mason, and what has worked for us. (Oh, and give you some free printable lessons to get you started!)  With the hope that maybe it will help someone else as well.

In the next post, we'll look at what it takes to really learn to read... and hopefully clear up some of our doubts about teaching it. :)

Posts to keep a look out for:

Our Story... I'm a failure. {part one}
Our Story... Struggle no more. {part two}
Our Story... Just relax!  << -- You are here. :)
Learning to Read - The Scary Myth
Playing a Foundation to Build on.
First Reading Lessons in Earnest.


Phyllis said...

I am loving these posts. Keep 'em comin'!

Books For Breakfast said...

Love these posts. I'm also pretty laid back when it comes to learning to read. I think it's something akin to walking and potty training. When they are ready, they will do it. I've been blessed with a daughter, our oldest at a new five, who can already read quite well, mostly self taught.

So far it's easy for me to stick with my guns, not interferring with the natural process and such. But our son, I believe will put my conviction to the test. He is almost three and has no interest whatsover in letters. Loves to be read to but doesn't care a wit about the words on the page. Our oldest was reading three letter combinations by three. So he will challenge my beliefs.

We've received a lot of negative feedback for our decision to homeschool, and so far the detractors are staying away from the academic argument because our daughter is so far ahead of her peer group. Their thing is the socialization. But when our son turns four or five and doesn't know his letters,if in fact he is still uninterested, I know the pressure will begin.

So, how do you deal with people when they come to you with "concerns" that your child is behind his peer group in reading, math, writing, small motor skills, etc?

Richele said...

Relax and have an ice cream sundae. Why, you may have just solved that world peace issue to boot.

Jezme said...

Thanks so much for your posts about reading. When I read your first one I almost jumped up from my chair and yelled "That's us!" But then I restrained myself since such an outburst would probably wake the boys up.
So I was eagerly anticipating your next posts. Ahh... Thanks for reminding me to relax and enjoy the time we have and let the boys grow as God intends them to. I really resonated with you when you wrote "homeschooling has required my utmost when it comes to problem solving and creativity". I feel the same way about parenting in general. Oh so needy of my Lord's wisdom.
Anyway, a short thank you comment has ended up being rather long. May you taste and see that the Lord is good this day.

Unknown said...

Ma'm, I'm the CM Police. And we're here to make an arrest...


Hey, I admit that I've allowed twaddle at times. I was so happy recently when Sprite brought me a book (grandma had bought her) and said, "Mom, would you put this away? It's sort of scary, and I don't think I like it as much as those books you give me." Yeah!

This reading series is super helpful info for those with little ones. The pressure to push them to read at early ages is intense. I was determined NOT to push. And Sprite just absorbed it easily when she was ready. (It did happen to be at five, but it was not forced in any way.)

Even now, I don't feel she reads as much as I want her to. But again, I read a lot outloud and trust her to grow to love reading more and more.

Pauline said...

I am hoping that I will be able to make some posts like that SOMETIME! I have two non readers... dad has similar issues. DS is 7 (almost 8) and can remember nothing of what he sees (but would LOVE to be able to read) and DD 9 is finally "getting" the idea that a letter shape has a sound that can make a word.. and her visual memory is finally starting to "kick in". Then I have a 6yo ds who has started reading and writing already.... I will be interested to see how my oldest two get on ... but MAN it seems SLOW esp by "school" standards!!! and some days depressing! Thanks for sharing your experience!

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