Wednesday 15 June 2011

Factors influencing learning to read (Part 3 of 5)

Does Doing life equip us to read ?

I was reading about some research done with preschool students. Two classes were formed.  One class was taught standard phonics and official school drills the other was taken on school trips to museums, play grounds, theater, had books read to them and did lots of discovering the world around them experiments such as growing beans in class.

If my memory serves me right - after three years each class was divided in half and combined with the other.  So the new class consisted of 50% of each of the original classes. Within three months the students who had done no formal learning to read lessons were reading up to three years above their chronological age.

The reasons touted were that the students who explored the world around themselves had a deeper understanding of vocabulary and a larger bank of vocabulary to draw from.  So when they started learning to read they only had one skill to learn, the skill of decoding the symbols on the page. Most young students are trying to attain a double skill the skill of decoding and the skill of understanding the word they are decoding at the same time. (sorry I can't remember where I read about this research.  If anyone recognizes it please let me know so I can give appropriate credit)

To keep doing life made sense, and did set my mind at ease that what we were doing was making a difference. Whenever I feel a little guilty doing life I remember what Ruth Beechick has to say about it. (Read about it in this blog post: No need to feel guilty !

Practical tools

Time to go back to the tool box. I am sure Sonlight had added some how to books in with my order.  They must be important  ???

I took out my books by Ruth Beechick which Sonlight had graciously added to my order as a thank you gift. I read A home start in Reading. I highly recommend this book (it has now been combined into one book called: The Three R's ).

Ruth did an amazing job of equipping my understanding of how and when to teach phonics, how to know when my student was ready to learn, and how to develop comprehension skills. These little books (now in one book) are worth their weight in gold!

Feeling better equipped we continued with our daily phonics books (Get ready for the code) and sat together reading great books from Sonlight Core K (now called Core A) But I still worried and fretted over the whole thing.

Some tools of interest

Factor 3 is becoming equipped with the tools that are needed to teach this precious skill of decoding letters on a page. 

What tools do you have in your tool box ?

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    1. I've read quite a few of accounts which would agree with that research, Chareen, and our experience with our own children is similar.

      I'm always impressed when I hear about children teaching themselves how to read - I'm not sure it would be too hard in a reading-rich environment.

      We taught reading quite informally, using simple readers and just explaining phonics verbally. That was pretty easy. My dad taught my brother by reading the same books over and over, and following the words with his finger. From what I remember, he did that at quite an early age.

      Good luck with your reading, Chareen:)

    2. Some simple Spalding flash cards and a chart which I made
      a few readers and lots of interesting books.
      I do wonder however if we had done more formal phonics if my children would have been better spellers.

    3. Thank Vicky. Mr N is chomping at the bit wanting to learn how to read ! I am looking forward to seeing his progress.

      Thanks for sharing your post Erin. I did not use intensive phonics with mine however I did use spelling workout and that seemed to give enough phonics for good spelling ;-)


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