As a homeschool mom, I think the scariest thing to teach my kindergarten children was always reading. Yet, I love to see the light come on when they finally are able to read! The problem is… it’s getting to that point that really can be overwhelming. I am currently on my last and final version of teaching reading. (sniff,sniff) My youngest is in the process right now, and I have to admit she is definitely a challenge. So, I’m sharing with my homeschool friends… all of the wonderful “pointers” that I try to keep in mind as I take on this last reading challenge.
One thing to keep in mind as you teach reading is that it isn’t a skill unto itself. Reading is a culmination of many skills put together into a process. This is why teaching reading can be such a challenge. The research shows that the most flexible method and the method with the most long term benefits is to teach reading phonetically. The idea of phonics comes from the term “phoneme” which is the individual letter/sounds of our alphabet. The simplest skill in learning how to read. The overall idea of teaching phonics is to teach the basic sounds in conjunction with letter recognition, vowels and consonants, digraphs(consonant/vowel blends), special rules/sounds, sight words, and suffixes/prefixes.
I love Time4Learning’s reading pyramid. They have made the process of teaching reading phonetically very simple to understand with a reading skill pyramid. I like to keep a copy of this handy to help me remember the foundational skills that are necessary. I’ve heard many people complain about the phonics method they were taught. Some have even said that they cannot sound out words as adults because of it. To be honest, if they were taught phonics correctly, they would be able to sound out any word that was given to them. That is the beauty of teaching phonics. The phonetic method of reading gives a person the skills needed to decode any word at any level. The damaging methods such as the whole language approach or site word method teaches only a set of words and then the student learns these by rote memory. These methods are limiting and put the adult at a loss to decode/sound out new words that they encounter. There are some that use blended methods, and I believe that is probably the method that was used in those rare incidents where there are complaints.
To build the skills necessary to make fluent readers, the student must:
1)recognize individual sounds, sounds within words, and recognize the sound’s symbol
2)distinguish between first and last sounds and middle sounds
3)know and recognize all letters and their sounds, begin blending consonant/vowels, blending consonants with consonants, begin “sounding out” words, and “decoding” to spell words
4)learn the various “sight words” – I know that this sounds akin to the whole language approach – However, there is a place for learning sight words. These are usually words that defy the “rules” and are pronounced with no rhyme or reason. ie. the, put, was, etc.
5) read, practice, read, and read! Read for smoothness and expression… read for comprehension… read for accuracy…the more they read – the better reader they become!