Saturday, October 29, 2011

Reading progression explained

I'm on my second run through from the ground up teaching reading.

My general method goes something like this:

I spend lots of time teaching the letters, their sounds, various ways they look, and getting the child really comfortable with them. This stretches from toddlerhood to about 3-4.

We spend lots of time reading out loud. Picture books, chapter books, anything and everything. We attend story time at the library for more oral reading exposure. Infancy- childhood.

I also spend time on oral blending games and rhyming. For example, "C AAAAA T says what?" When they can hear the separate sounds and blend them together, we're ready to move on. I also think that rhyming is very important. Lots of silly songs and nursery rhymes help develop the ear for this. We work on this from the time they talk well until it clicks- about toddlerhood- 3/4.

After they can do the above easily, without stress, we start working on reading words on paper. I start with short vowel words, specifically short A words. I also introduce a very few "helper" or sight words, but I also explain the phonetic sense behind them. I believe that too many sight words leads to troubles later on. This has happened between 3/4 for both of my girls.

When they can confidently read CVC (consonant vowel consonant) words, we move on to digraphs and more complicated words. This is the most variable part- Sweet Pea blew through phonics as a whole in less then a year and was able to read on a meaningful and good level in that time. Little Bird hasn't moved to this phase yet, so I don't know how quickly she'll progress.

After this I address reading a little differently- I enforce reading time throughout the day. This falls in three categories- books I read to them (even after they are fluent readers), books they read silently to themselves, and books they read out loud to me.

Having a child read out loud allows you to keep up with combinations that they are having issues with. It also lets you catch sloppy habits, mistakes, and can clue you in on vision issues. I think it also helps self confidence.

Reading out loud to a child who reads well allows you to read books together that they might not pick up on their own. It also allows you the chance to stop frequently and discuss vocabulary and themes, look things up on maps and check comprehension without tossing out worksheets.

Silent reading is important here, too. It lets you assign school reading, helps reinforce the idea that reading is pleasurable and a worthwhile use of time, and builds the volume of ideas that they carry around. A widely read child has images and vocabulary bouncing around that will benefit them indefinitely.

When is a child reading? This is pretty hotly debated. Some people say their child is reading as soon as they sound out or recognize that first word, others wait until a child can pick up a book, decode the letters and tell you what they just read. I fall kind of in the middle. I don't call a child who can pick a few words out or blend a few words a reader. That misses the nuances of being able to use language. I also don't wait until they are able to pluck a book from the shelves and use it meaningfully, either. I would say that my four year old can read- she can pick up an easy reader, sound through all the words, and then retell the story.

But this is the beginning, not the end.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Schooling in PICTURES returns!

'Cause I know you've all been dying to see. Right? Right?

Those ghosts are the pained footprints of each on my kids, filled in and decorated.

This week we covered more of the Puritans. We also went out of order and added Leif Ericson to our Book of Time. We read about him. I'm a little surprised he wasn't included in Sonlight's American history, but he was easy to include! Must not forget the vikings!!

Sweet Pea colors these, then we cut them out and write a sentence for her book to help us remember something about each person.

We're chugging along in math. We're almost 1/2 way through the book. The focus has been more on practical math then doing the workbook, though, which has slowed progress through the book but increased our enjoyment.

Here's a sample dictation from Sonlight's LA. We then go through it the next day and mark up all the parts of speech. The lengths of the dictations varies.

In science we are studying the planets. To go along with this we are building a scale model of our solar system. I'll put pictures up when we have more then itty bitty Mercury done. It's not too impressive on it's own!

The kids have been making various crafts and coloring. A lot.

Little Bird is working through a Handwriting without tears book when I am busy with her big sister.
Moose insists he has to color, too.

Sweet Pea's art is as sweet and quirky as ever.

The girls also practice piano daily. I shoot for 15-30 minutes from each of them per day.

Along with this we are doing Latin. Sweet Pea reads daily for school and pleasure. Little Bird is working through phonics. Moose is diligently babbling at us and practicing that toddler mind control that allows a nominally verbal little person to get what he wants and needs.

Things are good!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Quiet rhythm

Of our days. I'm trying to avoid looking forward or backwards right now. Instead my focus is on enjoying my kids as they are, right this moment.

Life is too short to do otherwise.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Reading to children

As a group.

It's easy to read to one child. They can sweetly nestle on your lap, or next to you on the couch. Alternately, you can snuggle in bed together and pore over that worthy tale.

As a family grows, though, children outpace available lap real estate or become to old (ha!) to want to sit on mom's lap.

We do a lot of reading out loud for school. Currently I have my darlings sit on pillows on the floor in front of me. I was inspired to this genius by the librarians at story time. Dozens of toddlers, sitting raptly and quietly and not elbowing each other! If they can do it, so can I.

It has worked well.


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