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Ideas for helping quirky 6yo make sense of reading

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
Long post ahead - TL;DR: So - moms of artsy, extroverted, energetic first graders (and beyond!) how did you help your child learn to read? (in a way that set them up to love reading and not resent school time)

Long version: :-) 
I have an almost 6yo daughter who has been home "schooled" since...well birth? We've sort of been using a jumble of different ideas, methods, etc. But the one thing I was always sure of was reading curriculum. I was home schooled and learned to read with the writing road to reading. I have always loved reading and I don't remember ever struggling with it. My dh went to catholic schools and was taught to read mostly by memorizing sight words and despite being a very smart guy, he never really gained a love for reading (beyond as a tool to learn something he wanted to know). So to us it always seemed obvious to go with the way I learned. 
Except...dd1 is not at all the same kind of child that I was...she is extroverted in the extreme, very very artistic, creative, imaginative and even at 6 has the attention span of a gnat. smile.gif I adore her and her amazing, vibrant personality. But I am at a loss as to how to teach her. And when I see her with other kids her age, she is so different and would no doubt be pegged as a problem student, despite the fact that she has no diagnosable issues...she's just a very quirky kid. 
So I've spent two years (on a non-diligent basis ;-)) trying to teach her according to the WRR method and despite the fact that she knows almost all 70 phonograms with reasonable proficiency, she does not seem to be having that lightbulb moment where she realizes she knows how to read. She writes well, she knows her letters but the connection between all of that and actual independent reading is just not happening. 
After looking into unschooling (which in it's pure form isn't a good fit for our family - I'd say we're sort of hybrid unschoolers who sometimes use actual schoolbooks)...someone basically told me maybe she's not just learning these things in a way that makes sense to her brain. (facepalm) Duh! I feel like such a crappy mommy for not even thinking about that until now! 

We read a lot together and more than anything I want her to love reading as a means of discovery and adventure and learning what she wants to learn. I do NOT want her to learn to dread school time and reading and I'm afraid if I keep pushing our current method, she will. She's easily discouraged and i am too when I see that it seems like all the stress and time we've put in so far has been sort of counterproductive. :-/ and I feel bad that she has to be the homeschool guinea pig. greensad.gif 

So - moms of artsy, extroverted, energetic first graders (and beyond!) how did you help your child learn to read? 
post #2 of 7

I have no experience with a situation like this but from the sound of your dd's personality, would you be able to incorporate some sort of drama/reading of plays/acting into learning to read? Or as incentive to learn to read? That's the first thing that came to mind when I read your post but I have no idea if it's even applicable. redface.gif  Just an idea.

post #3 of 7

Mama of a 7yo who is reading on her own.  


We read a lot of stories, sometimes big stories, and it is just family time.  When we started seeing signs that she was trying to read, we revisited favorite books with simple text, not usually teaching books though a few are fun.  No, we just borrowed old favorites again, even baby board books with one word per page.  At first it was clear that she was reciting the books like Trout! Trout!  Trout!  ("Sockeye salmon, arctic char, mooneye, walleye, gar! gar! gar!")  But she loved that she was "reading".  So we got more old favorites like this that she wanted to "read" at bedtime or other times.  Eventually she just started really reading.  


She is more of a sight reader, and can be impatient with sounding words out.  Oddly enough, learning some Spanish words has helped this enormously.  Little English/Spanish books like our favorite Perros!  Perros!  ("Arriba, abajo/  Up, down/  Por el pueblo/ Through the town!")  She likes that Spanish letters are almost always pronounced the same way.


So, we just skipped over learning phonetics and all those.  If we came across an odd spelling, I just say, "Well, that's just English!  Behind every funny spelling is a story."   And we go on.  I try not to "teach" reading unless she asks me straight up.


Yes, it is a bit haphazard, but whatever it is it is working.  She is not particularly advanced but neither is she behind.  

post #4 of 7

So, she knows most the sounds but struggles to put them together. . . for that, I have done two things that helped my quirky kid (my non-quirky kid just magically picked up on reading).  First, we played games with simple words.  I would say cat but I would say each sound by itself: /k/ /a/ /t/  then, dd would try to figure out which word I was saying.  After she was good with that I added in games with the tiles from All About Spelling.  We would bring down the tiles for each sound and keep them separate first.  We would say each sound, then bring the tiles closer together and say the sounds a bit faster.  Finally, we would say the sounds all together as a word.  We also played games with the tiles where after sounding out a word, say "cat", I would swap out a tile.  I might change it to "pat" or to "cap" or to "cot".  I would only change one sound at a time, but I would vary the position of the sound.  Eventually, she took turns making the changes.  We even had times that she created words (using at least on red (vowel) tile) and I would sound out whatever she made.  Then I would get a turn too.  Real and nonsense word were both great.  Once good at the basic cvc type words, we would add words that used the sh/ch/th tile.  So "ship" would still have three sounds/tiles.  After that we added beginning blends like in the word "flip" where there are 4 sounds and then ending blends like "camp" and then both like "bland".  Once we were there, we didn't find the need to play this anymore.  She was also putting words together herself before we finished the sequence.  Most importantly, the oral game (played in the car) and the tile game (played at home) felt like games to her.  If she started getting frustrated, we put it away for a while.  



post #5 of 7

Ooooh, forgot about Garfield.  We love Garfield books, and other comics and even graphic novels for kids.  It is fun in the latter for me to read the narrative while dd reads the speech bubbles.  For Garfield, she loved reading the sounds (GAK!  BLORT!  AIEEEEEE!)  It matches her silliness, and in our case she had no reference to a real word and had to stop and sound out the letters.

post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the advice! Yesterday I changed my approach and started the day by asking her what she wanted to do for the day. She acted like I'd handed her the moon. smile.gif
She did drawing for awhile, then we read a stack of books together without asking her to read a single word, we did puzzles and a number bingo game and water color painting. I did it all with her. My younger DD was included as much as we could, but she definitely pitched a few 2yo fits about not being The Center of the Universe. Oh well...usually it feels like I can only get it right with one kid at a time. :-)
DD1 had some attitude issues later in the day from being wiped out, but on the whole it was one of the easiest, most conflict-free days we've had in ages. I'm going to try just following that method for awhile and see where it goes. I'm ditching actual reading practice and I'll just go back to reading to her more. I need to freak out less and just focus on bonding with her and enjoying my time with her.

Now how I'm going to manage all that once I throw another baby in the mix in May? No idea. Plus I was totally exhausted yesterday and the house got totally neglected...but one step at a time, right? smile.gif

Thanks again for the encouragement!
post #7 of 7

I have one of those!!  A high energy, artistic, high energy...did I say that already?? 6yo boy.  He knows a ton of phonics and can sound out plenty of words, but as far as getting a good flow on reading a book, it's tough.  He is easily flustered when he doesn't read it quickly enough or gets stuck on a word.  We use progressivephonics.com  to teach him to read and he really likes it because we are doing it together.  You read most words, the child reads the red words that use the new phonics rule.  Eventually they are reading more of the story than you are.  It works for my ds because he likes to read with me and I can read the story with flourish and he can interject his words and he can do it with confidence.


That being said, I attended a homeschool expo last weekend where I posed a similar question about my 6yo who is just not "clicking" with the reading.  I was gently reminded, "He's only 6... relax."  I was encouraged to continue to read LOTS of books to him and one day, he will be a reader.  I'm going with that for now.  :)

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