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October 14, 2008


That website talks about the 7 widely accepted learning styles, and has ways to relate to all of them.

Honestly, here, all we did was read a lot. When the kids were little we read to them anytime they wanted us to, and every night before bed. So I made sure to buy books that I liked. Anything that is made for learning to read can be really boring. When the prose is interesting and flows well, and has witty jokes or a sweet, engaging story, the kids would want to hear it again and again. Then they started to memorize the story.

After a while, I would just point at some words while I read past them. Other times I stopped at a word and asked if they knew what it was. I always made it ridiculously easy, because I was going for confidence.

Then, at night in bed, we allowed them 20 minutes or so of "reading time". They took a book to bed with them, and looked through the pictures by themselves, before they could read. It was easy for them to concentrate on the book, since they weren't allowed to do anything else, and I think it took some pressure off. They still treasure their reading time in bed each night.

The BOB books are silly, and very, very short. I think that's why they're so successful. But people don't speak like that, so it really only teaches phonics. It's a great help right when they're on the edge.

I say get some nice books that YOU love; if they appeal to you they will appeal to your son.

I totally agree with Visty - I think the most important thing is reading to your children - they will develop a love of reading and they'll begin to 'want' to read. We did use the BOB books with great success - they are short and focus on one phonic sound/spelling per book - and the Man-Cub was able to read them on his first try. We also used the 'Dick and Jane' series that I was familiar with from my childhood - they've been reprinted and at the time they were available at Wal-Mart. Some of the Dr. Seuss books are great too - I remember the Man-Cub loved 'Hop on Pop' and could read it by himself. There are tons of simple books out there - let your children be your guide and choose books that they like - reading should be fun!

I've recently read that phonics is only useful if a child has an established reading base already which they can use to make the phonics relevant.

HOWEVER, I started Jack with phonics. We bought a few of the smaller Hooked on Phonics sets (Costco has very good prices on them if you have a membership) to start with and sort of went up from there. Jack loved HOP and wanted to sit and run the entire Pre-K program in one day, so we needed other things to go with it.

He adores all of the leapfrog products (and they have very good customer service should you need it.) We have had the Fridge phonics for awhile, and moved up to the word whammer sometime this year. My aunt and uncle bought him one of those my first leappad things, and that got a lot of use for a while.

One other toy that was good for introducing reading skills are these little laptop type things. Leapfrog seems to have phased all of theirs out, but we had a few from garage sales that he liked, and we have a thomas one I found at goodwill that is essentially the same thing.

For Jack reading definitely began with sight words. It didn't have to be words in books (although he does love books), he would ask about street signs, and signs in stores etc, so we are always pointing out words wherever we are.

I think in the end though, it is probably just fine to let reading evolve as it will. If they aren't ready, they just aren't ready and it will only be an exercise in frustration. I just made the tools available to Jack and let him work at his own pace. I took sort of a soulemama approach and made a learning shelf in the kitchen where I plopped books, games, flashcards, write on boards, paper, pencils, workbooks and let him access them when he wants to.

(And honestly? I never imagined he would be reading this soon, or even *want* to do it yet.)

We have always read a lot together. We also played many games when the kids were smaller, like Junior Scrabble, that made words and letters fun. I didn't focus on "teaching" reading until after grade 2. Also I think phonics are the way to go. Partly becuase that's how I learned and partly because only with phonics can someone figure out a word they have never seen before. If you can't sound it out you can't figure it out!
One thing to do is work on what's known as environmental reading. Can your child "read" the McDonald's logo? The Coke bottle? Stuff like that isn't exactly reading, it's just recognition, but is wonderful pre-reading experience. He will feel so proud to know he can "read" signs all over town!!

We also just concentrated on reading a lot, which provides the base for learning reading. Children will also be happier and more successful readers if they acquire the skill at their own pace and in their own time. He may not learn to read while he's in preschool this year, but that's okay. If you provide him with lots of reading together and have a lot of books around then he'll have the foundation to be ready for more formalized reading education next year if he needs it. Pushing him will just make it a chore for all of you. My 2 cents, for what they're worth. :)

And for background - my eldest started reading in kindergarten with a mostly phonics education but she had a solid read-with-mom foundation. My middle child didn't start reading fluently until 3rd grade due to a reading disability. He just wasn't ready until then. My 3rd child started reading at 3 with no formal reading training whatsoever. Each child is different and will come to reading in his or her own way.

We read a LOT in this house, and I would say that has been the major boost to our boy's accomplishments in that arena... just loving stories.

But, we did also sometimes throw in some Phonics Pathways (I liked the simplicity of it) and I also printed out the sight word lists on Jan Brett's website. I put them in sheet holders and then in a folder and we'd try to learn them a row at a time... just looking at them, then spelling them orally, then maybe making them with our finger in shaving cream or sand, something like that. After a while, the boys liked to time each other saying them with a stop watch.
My older two are now independent readers, loving and collecting and reveling in chapter books!

I started with "100 Easy Lessons" and then headed to "Writing Road to Reading!" That is the best I think! Both my boys (24,22) are great spellers and readers. The oldest a school teacher!! Now my niece is doing the Writing Road and my sis says it's the best!

Hi, I found your blog recently, even though I don't remember how! I do not homeschool, but we are a family that believes important learning happens at home. Both of my children were able to read by age 5, but we never taught them to read. We simply read to them all the time, every day, books that we all enjoyed, and we always had lots of books out for them to play with and "read". We had magnetic letters for the fridge and would make simple words. We spent a lot of time coloring and drawing together, which naturally progressed into learning how to write letters and words. I would sing the ABCs to them all the time. Some of our alphabet books had the whole alphabet printed out on the end pages, and we'd sing the song together and point to the letters as we sang. My kids are 11 and 8 now, and both are eager, avid readers. Good luck, and enjoy this time with your children!

when i first got married, i found that my husbands oldest who would be in first grade had learned/picked up absolutely no reading skills in kindergarten, which worried the heck out of me when looking at the schools expectations for kids entering first grade. (i have no idea why they let him "graduate" from kindergarten, but that's another topic.)

so the summer before first grade was declared: get blake to read, stat! the first hurdle was getting him to WANT to read. if they exhibit no interest, it's like hitting a brick wall. we read a ton of books, make a lot of trips to the library and bookstores to get him excited about books. then there may have been a little bit of bribery involved because time was a factor. if he could read a book on his own, he'd get to pick out any book at the bookstore.

then we started hooked on phonics and it was a god-send. it's an easy program to master for both parents and kids. it moves quickly and has lots of little milestones to motivate kids and help them feel good about their progress (in my opinion anyway.) it worked well for him and didn't make me crazy in the process. (i was never meant to be a teacher.)

I was a kid who struggled with reading and only began to love it as I got older and everyone stopped focusing on having reading success. It was read-alouds that got me really interested in reading and now I read about a novel a week. As a teacher, I prefer the whole language philosophy of teaching, because that is what life is...whole language, not phonics. I do love those BOB books!!

I know it can feel like "pressure" to make it more like school in terms of the "learning" but remember that what you want most of all is for your kids to LOVE LEARNING. Delve deeply into one topic (of your big guy's choice). Let's say it's crickets. Study them, draw them, write out the body parts, let him dictate a story to accompany his illustrations, maybe make a word wall of some simple words associated with what he's interested in but keep in FUN. For you too! This is your year to SAVOR. Don't let the pressure of school coming up ruin it for you. You made the choice, and it wasn't an easy one or one you made without reason. Now relax, get out there and let him be excited about learning. He has his whole school career to stand in line, raise his hand and fill out worksheets.

This is all advice I need to follow myself, it's hard!

Hugs - this is going to be a GREAT year!!!

I haven't had a chance to read all the earlier comments, so hopefully I am not repeating those ideas. My master's degree is actually in reading education, though I haven't used it in more than 5 years....

But, here are a few game like activities we used to do. Rhyming games are really good because they help kids realize the patterns in words. It could be as simple as making up rhyming words--they don't even have to actually be real. Reading rhyming books and nursery rhymes are good too.

Reading to your kid is essential because that is how they learn emerging literacy skills (how to hold a book, turn a page, what direction the words go in). Occasionally pointing to each word as you read will help him connect that the letters make a spoken word (this is phonemic awareness and a kid will NOT learn to read until after he has mastered that those scratches on the page actually mean something.)

Another fun activity is to have your child draw pictures to make a story. Then, have him dictate the story to you and write the story under the pictures. Make a book for you both to read together. It seems like kids get invested when it is their own words. Also, reading books over and over and over again (though tiring for the parent) is really good for kids. They start to identify the most common words they see. Sorry this is so long...

This post caught my eye and I have to throw in my two cents. I've raised five kids and they've all been in different situations as they reached school age and all had different reading styles, interests, and enthusiasm levels. Two of my kids were in private schools for kindergarten and first grade and learned to read just about at the "average" time. Our oldest, Joshua was always an avid bibliophile until his death at nineteen. Noel likes to read but with college and kids, as an adult she doesn't do a lot of pleasure reading - I'd still call her a person who likes to read for pleasure though. Our son Joe went to public school (and a very great public school at that, who wasn't caught up in the whole No Child Left Behind mandates or expectations of earlier reading that sweeps some schools. Instead they assured us that kids read at different ages just like the walk at different ages, etc. Even though he was exposed to regular worksheets and reading practice skills, he didn't learn to read until 3rd grade. Yet by the end of that year he was reading at grade level. He continues to be a person who loves to read for pleasure. Next son, Sam, is the kind of kid who loves the challenge of a new skill. So he taught himself to read before he went to public school kindergarten. I had four kids at home by then and I've never been a flash card fan so it wasn't me who taught him. Despite being an early reader, he's my kid who doesn't really have a love of books. He reads well and is interested in books when he's required to read for work or school classes, but except for Harry Potter, I don't think I've ever seen him read a book just for his own pleasure since he was a kid. Not that he's not a great guy - he's just more of a hands on type who likes to learn HTML, how to build a house, fix his car, snowboard. Last but not least is our son William who homeshooled until high school. He was a very late reader who didn't read independently until he was twelve. Not that we didn't read together before that. We always had a book we read together. And what we read was far more sophisticated than what most kids read at similar ages. We'd take him to see Shakespeare and he'd understand lines that left the grown ups around us muttering "what in the world are they saying!?" I think he's just an extremely auditory focused learner. Still, his reading comprehension has always been above average and he decided to go to public school for high school so he could play football. His grades are fine, they'd be better if he wasn't so busy with work, football, and a social life, but it's not because of reading skills that he gets "average" grades. He's still far more interested in auditory learning and follows a lot of literary, historical, and political stories on television of his own initiative. He enjoys getting information, but prefers things like online, newspapers, magazines.

So, why did I tell you all this - my point is that each kid is so very different and I think early reading can be pushed at the detriment of LOVE of reading. I think it's more important to instill a love of story and if your child is the type who will enjoy reading, it won't matter how early or late they learn. All my kids, book lovers and those more interested in other skills, were all excellent students, well liked by their teachers, and now are doing well as adults. My suggestion for teaching reading - go to the library often, read lots of fun books together, do small motor skills art projects so your son can manipulate a pencil when he's asked to do so in school. If he likes workbooks and the like, I don't think they're bad. Let him do them if he thinks they're fun. But don't worry about him if they're not his cup of tea. And keep in mind how very quickly you'll be worrying not about if or when he learns to read but when he'll be crossing the street alone and then driving down the street alone and the living alone and - ACK it all goes so fast!

Oh, and I also wanted to say - I wonder if either of my late readers had been caught up in the stress of being labeled later readers - if they might have learned to hate reading. My older son doesn't even remember being a late reader and he sometimes argues that I must be remembering things wrong. LOL.

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