Wednesday, June 16, 2010

day 163: summertime—beginning reading help—tutoring your child yourself without a program part ii of ii

Tips for tutoring your child yourself without a program…continued from yesterday:

4. Work every week day (and sometimes even weekends)—or even twice a day, if possible. Work in short snatches of ten to fifteen minutes. Work on reviewing previous day’s sounds, reading yesterday’s “reader,” learning a new sound, then reading something containing today’s sounds. Short snatches. No bells and whistles—just keep plugging away on learning sounds, learning words, and reading, reading, reading.**

5. Use sight words as needed—but do not make sight words out of words that have phonetic components. I had one entire graduate class that did nothing but teach us that phonics is unnecessary and even harmful. The professor gathered literally dozens of articles about the breakdown of phonics, how there are too many exceptions in phonics for it to be useful, etc., into one huge “book” that was our textbook. He advocated a sight word approach to teaching a child to read—like treating each word as a sight word and giving children word lists of twenty unrelated (phonetically-speaking) words is superior to some exceptions! Are there exceptions to phonics rules? You bet! But there are also exceptions to grammar rules (galore), but we do not skip grammar because of it. (“There are so many exceptions to verb conjugations that we are just going to hope for the best when our kids write”—and not teach them the conjugations that are similar, consistent, and alike? We wouldn’t consider that.) Thus, my take on sight words is that if a word has a phonetic component to it, teach that component whenever possible. For example, the word “you” is a common sight word—and rightly so. However, we would be amiss if we didn’t at least point out to our student that he knows what “y” usually says at the beginning of a word, like in “yes,” “yak,” and “yellow.” And that “you” is at least consistent with the consonant “y” sound in its beginning sound. It is unfair to our kids to not give them every tool we can think of to unlock learning for them.

6. Use readers liberally. Teaching reading without readers is like teaching a child to play the piano with theory worksheets and musical note flash cards only. A pianist must play a piano in order to learn to play piano—and a reader must read “books” in order to learn to read. I will delve into readers tomorrow.

**Read, read, read: Be sure you do not practice skills but not apply them to reading! Phonics is for reading; grammar is for writing and speaking. Learning skills without applying them often feels useless to students (and rightly so).

Happy reading lessons from Ray and Donna Reish at Positive Parenting 3*6*5!

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