Tuesday, June 15, 2010

day 158: summertime—helping struggling early readers overview part i of ii

I want to start my “summer instruction” with one of the most important aspects of helping your children academically in the summer: reading.

I have two vastly different approaches to beginning reading instruction for this blog’s purposes. (Beginning reading being defined as learning to sound out (or decode) words put before your child, mostly in context (in a book).)

The two approaches include the following:

1. If you do not homeschool, this first one applies to you. If your child is in first, second, or third grade (or beyond?) and is supposed to have reached “reading fluency” by the school’s standards and his/her peer’s levels and you plan to keep that child in that grade with that expectancy, I recommend that you run, not walk, someplace to get help for your child. I will elaborate on this tomorrow.

2. If you do homeschool, and your little one at age six, seven, or eight has not reached reading fluency, do not push it. One of the beauties of homeschooling is the prerogative to wait until a child is ready to learn a certain thing before he has to learn it. If your child has not achieved reading readiness (i.e. the readiness to learn how to blend letters together to decode (sound out) word), just wait for readiness to happen. Our son who tested out of his entire college degree, except for two courses for which there were no exams, did not learn to read until he was eight. Our daughter, who just graduated with two degrees magna cum laude and achieved a perfect verbal ACT score two times, did not learn to read until she was nine years old. Readiness to learn to read has nothing to do with intelligence. Our children will love learning and enjoy school much more if we wait for reading readiness before we insist that they learn to read.

Learning to read is the foundation of all school. Many, many students have been unable to learn to read at the time that it was designated that they should learn—and suffered from it throughout their entire lives. A vicious cycle often begins with these kids—they are not ready when their grade level indicates that they should be ready, then they fall behind. The class continues on with the next skill set while this little guy (oftentimes) continues to be lost. Then when he truly is ready to learn to decode, the class is learning how to write and spell—and this student thinks he is stupid and unable to learn (when in reality he could be very, very smart). If your child goes to school and is behind in learning to read, you will want to be diligent this summer to try to catch him up. Positive Parenting 3*6*5 wants to help you do that.
Note: If you are in a school system in which reading readiness is considered and someone works one on one with students to bring them to reading fluency as late as second and third grade, you are very blessed and will want to partner with your school in helping your child learn the foundational skill of decoding words.

Tomorrow, I will define the terms listed in this post further—“reading fluency,” “phonetically-controlled readers,” and “vocabulary-controlled readers." I will use these terms throughout this series, so I will spend a little time on each one. Stay with me--I love to help parents help their children! smile..

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