This may seem weird, but my oldest was taught to read in school. Now we are going to homeschool and I have a kindy kid. I keep reading to let him learn to read on his own. How does that happen? I mean I know reading TO him helps a TON...but do you do sight words and phonics and such too? Or do kids just 'get it' somehow? I remember being frustrated a lot while my oldest learned.
- topicHomeschoolingtagged by System, 7/4/12
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Teaching themselves to read? How?post #1 of 327/4/12 at 7:42pmThread Starterpost #2 of 327/4/12 at 9:38pmpost #3 of 327/4/12 at 11:36pm
I'm the mom of four self-taught readers. They all asked a lot of questions. From basic things like "Rainbow starts with R, right?" or "What does p-r-e-s-s spell?" to gradually more sophisticated things like "Why does 'ice' have an E on the end?" to "Why do they spell 'thought' with so many letters?" They began to recognize some words by sight, learned to spell their names and the names of their siblings ... and gradually, with the help of questions asked and answered, they began to intuit the rules of phonics.
They didn't learn according to my schedule or my perception of their readiness. I was surprised by a couple of my kids gaining a fair bit of reading skill long before I had any sense that they were getting close. I was also surprised by long fallow periods where interest in reading seemed to drop off the radar despite what seemed like complete readiness. One of my kids got to the stage of being a competent beginning reader (1st grade level) on his own, and then asked for help practicing so that he could improve. So we read through a bunch of levelled readers together and he was off and running. That was about the extent of the parent-directed assistance I provided. The rest happened organically.
The thing is, though, you can't rush a child to the point of self-taught reading fluency. It might come at 4, or it might come at 9. It almost never happens exactly when you think it should.
Mirandapost #4 of 327/5/12 at 6:21am
From what I understand I believe most of the "self-taught readers" are whole language learners, and they usually need to be taught some of the phonics rules later on. I have a child who "doesn't get" phonics and thinks it is "very boring", and we have tried a few different programs with her. She is going into 2nd Grade and says she has no interest in reading, though we do ask her to read some BOB books occasionally and also to try and read what she puts in her workbooks. We're not worried about her.post #5 of 327/5/12 at 6:59am
I'll start with a disclaimer: I'm not a homeschooler and I don't think my son is all that typical - however, I think he has learned to read phonetically in a very child-led (if not strictly self-taught) way...
My son is a relentless asker of questions... I'm sure he asks thousands each day and often has very specific lines of questioning that he'll repeat until he's mastered a certain concept. Around the time he turned two, he started becoming very interested in print and would point to a lot of words and ask me what they said. A few months later, he started pointing to individual letters and asking me what they were. I replied with the standard letter sounds rather than names (I had become interested in Montessori at this stage). I didn't have any alphabet posters or books for him (I was very much hung up on the idea that he was only 2 and too young) but nonetheless, after a few weeks of non-stop questioning, he had learned all the letter sounds. Sometimes when I answered him, I would say something like "that's /b/, as in ball" So his next line of questioning was "What letter does *** start with?" He got this concept fairly quickly and after a couple of weeks, the question became "Mamma, does apple start with an /a/?"
Then his interest waned a little bit - I think he started asking about car models and numbers instead... but around his third birthday, a new series of "Mamma, what does this say?" questions began. This time, you could see him studying the word very carefully and sounding it out slowly. He's continued since then, getting more and more confident in his sounding out of words. He's now three and a half - and while he doesn't sit down and read a book, he reads all sort of text - signs, cereal boxes, chapter titles, etc. I notice he's starting to pick up a few common sight words though his reading is still mostly sounding out words phonetically. Oh, and I did actually teach him the letter names (as opposed to sounds) a few weeks ago (well, read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and sung the alphabet song for him - he picked it up in a day or two) The main reason I decided to do that is that he's been asking more and more questions about phonetic irregularities and I find it a lot easier to answer his questions using the actual letter names rather than the sounds. I've also bought a few phonics books to read myself so that I feel better prepared to answer his questions as they come up... but I have no plans for direct teaching and will continue to let his questions lead the way.
Caitlinnpost #6 of 327/5/12 at 7:04am
I don't think anyone can really say that "most" kids need to be taught to read, or that "most" who learn on their own will need to be taught phonics later on. The fact is that "most" kids go to school, so it is impossible to tell how those kids' reading skills would have developed without formal instruction.
No one has done a large-scale study of unschooled kids and how they learned to read. Peter Gray has, however, compiled some anecdotal information about how unschooled kids learn to read, and it may answer some of OP's questions:
My eldest learned to read, with very little help from his parents, and with zero phonics instruction, at age five. Today, at age eight, his reading and writing ability continue to increase without phonics instruction. He reads a little fantasy/sci-fi fiction, but most of his reading comes in the form of gaming manuals and catalogs and nonfiction reference books on subjects like astronomy and geography. The books he was spending lots of time with when reading really clicked at age five were The Scholastic Atlas of the United States, the Kentucky State Driving Manual (!), and Transformer comics. I also learned to read at age five, and remember filling out phonics worksheets in first grade. I always knew the answers already, though I did learn some phonics jargon ("blends," "dipthongs," etc.) that I wasn't familiar with. Though I'm pretty sure lots of outstanding readers have no idea what a dipthong is.
My second child is seven. She is not yet reading fluently, but she is progressing nicely. What is fascinating is that her writing skills seem ahead of her reading skills--the opposite of her older brother. The verdict is still out, but I'd say that she's learning to read largely through building a set of words that she can spell (even if the spelling is sometimes imperfect). Right now she is spending a lot of time studying The Barbie Collectors' Handbook, though she also enjoys graphic novels like the Fashion Kitty series. She has always adored the Madeline books. We don't do any formal instruction.
My third child is five and can sight read maybe thirty words or so. He struggles with a pencil grip, so he doesn't write a whole lot yet. He has recently become very interested in computer games, and I've noticed that some of the words he can sight read are the ones that come up in his favorite games.
One of the books I always recommend to those wondering about how to help their homeschooled children learn to read is Reading Without Nonsense by Frank Smith. He argues that we best help children learn to read by offering them membership to "the literacy club." It's difficult to explain all that he means by that, but it includes reading to children, offering a print-rich environment, and modeling reading.
Edited: Argh, I can't get the link to work. If you google "Peter Gray children teach themselves to read," you'll get there. Sorry.post #7 of 327/5/12 at 7:42amQuote:
Not true in my experience. My kids were never taught any phonics: they intuited the "rules." They're excellent readers and excellent spellers. I was an early self-taught reader myself and recall being given a systematic phonics workbook in 2nd grade and thinking it was the silliest, most self-evident stuff, finishing the workbook that was supposed to last all year in a weekend.
I also think that in unschooling families learning to read without direct instruction is the rule rather than the exception, so I would venture that most children are capable of it -- though not necessarily at age 5.5.
I enjoyed the Peter Gray article. His observations jive with my own.
Mirandapost #8 of 327/5/12 at 7:57amQuote:Quote:
I might agree with these statements in the sense that no child learns to read in a vacuum. Our house is much like Caitlinn and Miranda's houses: tons of questions, lots of reading, more questions. If I answer their questions on how to pronounce a word, does that count as "phonics instruction"? Does it count as "teaching themselves to read"? I suppose you could answer both ways.
But what is learning to read, exactly? Is it all those questions about the words, or is it that moment when your kid sees that she is looking at a page and the understanding is formed? Or is it not just the knowledge that words stand for something (where my 5yo is currently) but having those words come to life on that page? There is a moment of wide eyes, like you get when you stare at one of those chaotic pictures where a real picture is embedded and you finally see it.
My 5yo is definitely not a "whole language learner". She is dedicated to sounding...... wooooorrdsssss...... oooooouuuuuut...... sssssllllooooooowllllllyyyyy. My oldest is definitley the whole-language type, and yes, she is learning that she has to sound words out, and dd2 is learning that she has to just recognize some words so probably what it means is that you also can't learn to read English sticking with one method.
As for self-taught readers being whole-language learners, in my home that is exactly 50%. I was a self-taught reader, but I learned when I was 4yo and don't remember it. I remember not knowing, then I remember knowing. Unhelpful! But even dh, who learned to read in school, still had that aha! moment that can come from no other place but yourself. You cannot be given it. You can be lead to the place where that moment can happen, but the "aha!" understanding is all your own.
I'm not sure when my 5.5yo will start reading. She sits and "reads" all day long some days, unexpected books like guide books and other "science-y" books that are way beyond her abilities. Same for dd1, who is reading. She might be excited about an early reader briefly so she can show off her skills, but those books quickly get forgotten and she goes back to perusing her own tomes, like her horse and pony encyclopedia, which are loaded with pictures and text far beyond her current ability, but she looks, she reads, she asks me to read a passage now and then.post #9 of 327/5/12 at 10:09am
I learned to read without being taught (my mom didn't even realize I could, until my kindergarten teacher called her to tell her). I believe my husband did, as well.
DD1 and ds2 are being homeschooled. We're not exactly unschoolers, but that's probably closer to our approach than any other label I can think of. We've very child led. DD1 has had some spelling lessons, because she asked a lot of quesions, and learned some basic phonics (just the sounds all the letter made), and they've confused the crap out of her. She frequently spells words with "u", instead of "a", because it sounds like it should be a "u". This was affecting her ability to read quite profoundly, as she's a "sound it out" reader, and there were too many words she couldn't sound out. (On another note, she hates English with a passion, and says it's the stupidest language ever.) So, she's not really a self-taught reader, exaclty, but she's had very little formal instruction.
I've never worked with ds2 at all. I've answered questions he's asked me, and that's it. He doesn't read very often. His reading level is above grade level. I have no idea how he even learned it all, but he did.post #10 of 327/5/12 at 4:14pm
I am also very surprised at how well DS seems to "get" phonics. He taught himself to read at 3.5 much to our shock. I'd planned on using phonics to teach him. I am placing a high priority on phonics this fall (I think we're going to use Phonic Road for LA) but I'm not as worried as I was initially. I've seen a lot of evidence this year that he actually has a very intuitive understanding of the rules.post #11 of 327/5/12 at 7:09pmpost #12 of 327/6/12 at 4:18am
I am not a homeschooler (yet - my daughter is only 2), but my background is as a Reading Specialist and I just wanted to chime in that kindergarten can be really young to read, so if independent reading is not happening, don't panic. Just keep reading aloud. I wouldn't start to worry until they get to maybe 8 or 9 and aren't reading independently. I've read some research that estimates about 40% (of the school population) learns to read on their own, 50% benefits from explicit instruction and about 10% needs really intensive instruction. And by all means keep any reading skill lessons short...once they know the sounds of English spelling combinations, you want to practice fluency. Maybe five minutes a day. Just pick a passage of 50 to 100 words and have them read it out loud, playing around with punctuation and emphasis and all that.
Also, older kids can really benefit from some word study of latin and greek roots - this is also phonics, but not the a-apple-ah variety. You can just google a list of roots and then have them brainstorm other words that use the root.post #13 of 327/6/12 at 5:46amI am a self-taught reader, as is my son. I wonder why so much emphasis is being placed on phonics. I can read quite nicely without ever using phonics. Seriously, as adults, do you still sound out words? I am also a speed reader, so I learned to take in groups of words at once. Personally, phonics is nice but in my opinion, unnecessary.post #14 of 327/6/12 at 6:24amQuote:
I've seen several variations of this statistic over the years, but never an attribution. I suspect it's not from an actual study since the number who supposedly benefit from "explicit instruction" is different every time I see the stat. Sometimes it's 40%, sometimes 20%, etc.
While it's nice to see someone with school credentials who has a positive view of allowing children to read in their own time, I don't like the idea of parents starting to worry the day a child hits a certain age (even 8 or 9) and is not reading independently. Again, see the Peter Gray article. And this: http://sandradodd.com/r/threereaders . There are additional links at the bottom for other reading stories.
Edited by Luckiestgirl - 7/6/12 at 7:49ampost #15 of 327/6/12 at 7:43am
Actually, yes. I can think of any number of examples: dinosaur books, Greek myths, rock and plant guide books, some cities when playing TakeOff, even some names from Harry Potter catch me up and I have to go back and sound out the name. It's not quite the same as when you are first starting out-- sort of like math, some things are just so embedded and second nature you don't need to think too hard-- but I do have to go slowly, pay attention, and in some cases still hope that I am right.post #16 of 327/6/12 at 8:49ampost #17 of 327/6/12 at 8:28pmQuote:Originally Posted by moominmamma
Adding a couple of more situations to SweetSilver's list:
Dialect (where an accent is written out phonetically) and long transliterated foreign names, eg. Japanese, Russian.
Also Dr. Seuss books (or any other book with made-up words) and people's last names or usernames. I think everyone uses phonics when they read, whether they're conscious of it or not. Using phonics doesn't have to mean slowly sounding words out letter by letter like a kindergartener. As an adult you can probably apply phonics rules to many unfamiliar words as quickly as you can read familiar words, so quickly you aren't conscious of sounding anything out. If you can easily read nonsense words like "fark" or "doover" or usernames like "Mittsy" or "moominmamma" (out loud, with correct pronunciation) then you're using phonics.post #18 of 327/7/12 at 1:06ampost #19 of 327/7/12 at 7:31amQuote:
My reading and writing style is funny-- I hear the words in my head as if someone is reading to me. When I read books I also have a movie running along in my head. I am a slow reader, but stories are incredibly rich.
So, the point, I need to know how to pronounce it, even if I am reading silently.post #20 of 327/7/12 at 10:30am
I read aloud a lot (my kids are 9-15, and were early readers, but I still read aloud to them plenty), so I need to be able to pronounce things. When I'm reading non-fiction, I sometimes do what pek64 does and "read" without actually turning unfamiliar words into mental sounds. But even though I'm a very fast reader, if I'm reading fiction other than trashy stuff I much prefer to "hear" the sounds of the words in my head. I pay attention not just to the meaning of the words but to their rhythm, timbre, phrasing and other poetic elements. I'm after the aesthetic of the language, not just its meaning.
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