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Teaching Reading

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
DS will be 6 in June. He can't recognize most letters except for the ones in his name (which he just learned how to write). So I'm not sure how I'm going to teach him to read. Or when I should try teaching reading. He's SO not interested in doing any school related activities. I don't want to force him to do school stuff, but I feel like he should be wanting to do more than we are. Any ideas to make ABCs and reading more fun?
post #2 of 13

Depending on what you define as "learning to read" there are two possible responses: "he's not ready," or "he's already learning." He's not ready in the sense that he doesn't have many of the pre-requisite skills, and also because he's not interested. He's already learning in the sense that he has learned some of the letters, can write them, and is probably being exposed to all sorts of literacy-valuing resources and experiences. 


If you feel a child is slow to blossom in a certain area, there's a temptation to try and put more focus on that area. But that's not how human beings learn best. They learn best by putting their energy into things that they are good at, that are interesting and gratifying to them because they can feel that they are learning easily and well ... and, because most things are connected to most other things in some way, the 'weaker' areas tend to get dragged forward by the stronger.


So I would look at what your ds is interested in, and what he's good at, and I would incorporate literacy-related enhancements into those things. You may already be doing this sort of thing. If he loves playing with Lego, build a tradition of reading aloud to him for half an hour every morning while he builds. If he loves running around outside, give him scavenger hunts to do ... "As many things as you can find that either start with the letter T, or that look like a letter T." If he likes drawing, ask him to describe what his drawing is about, and print that description as a caption on the bottom of his paper, then collate his drawings into a scrapbook that he can flip through and "read" at his leisure. If he enjoys playing games with you orally, play "I Spy" with letter-sounds ("I Spy something that starts with the P sound.") or introduce him to tongue-twisters and silly rhymes to try to say. If you have a routine for your day, make a simple day-calendar for your fridge and draw his attention to it when he asks what you're doing this afternoon. "Look, it says Daddy -- see all the D's? -- at 3. That means we have to pick daddy up at 3 o'clock. And down here, this starts with S and has m's in the middle. That says ssssss...wimmmmming, because we're going swimming on the way home."


This sort of casual but intentional exposure often feels to parents like it's less proper and serious as a form of homeschooling than structured direct instruction. But I think it's just as effective in the long run, and there's much less risk of poisoning the homeschooling environment through coercion and resistance. When he's ready for more, it'll be clear to you, because he'll start recognizing things, and making connections, and asking questions.



post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks, that makes sense. I got him a magna doodle for Christmas to have more fun with writing. But he lost it...
But making learning into a game is probably the most successful approach at this point.
post #4 of 13

I've used the "Explode the Code" workbooks with most of my children, and with kids that I've tutored. I like them for teaching letters and letter sounds. There is also an online version now.



post #5 of 13
My youngest will be 6 in June too. She's progressing along the same lines as her sister-more interested in writing than reading. I never did any formal reading instruction at all; we read to them as much as they want and point out things as they come up similar to what Miranda described. My Mom calls it 'learning by osmosis' and says it was how my siblings and I learned.
post #6 of 13

Just another idea:  We liked the secret code puzzles, where a symbol represents a letter.  Then when all the letters are filled out, it is the answer to a joke.  DD1 loved this when she was little, and she would work out the letters, then I would read the joke and the puzzled-out answer.  If he enjoys Sudoku, it can be done with letters, too.  6-square sudoku is the easiest to start with, followed by 9-square with more of the boxes filled in.  The original Sudoku uses numbers, but it's really just pattern recognition, so you can use anything: stickers, pictures, colors, letters etc.

post #7 of 13

I like Explode the Code. I used it as a teacher. 


My 5yr likes www.starfall.com

post #8 of 13

From the description of your son, I wouldn't jump into explode the code yet.  To be ready for explode the code, the child needs to know their letters and basic consonant sounds.  Introducing that series now would probably be frustrating.  They do have an earlier series (three books):  Get Ready, Get Set, and Go for the Code.  These focus on letter recognition and consonant sounds.  It also has some writing exercises, but it isn't one of those books that had the child copy the letter over and over and over.  


However, you asked about making it fun.  To help my children learn their letters (and eventually sounds) I got the Melissa & Doug "Alphabet Train" puzzle.  This puzzle is about 20 feet long when completed.  I would scatter the pieces around the room.  We would keep the first piece (engine) with us.  I would ask my child:  what letter is first (or, I would say "A" is first, let's find it).  We would hunt for the A, find it, we would notice the picture on the train, I might point out or emphasize the sound.  Apple, A says /a/ in apple.  As my child got better at this game, I would give less.  I would let them figure out which letter was next (we would sing the abc song to figure out what was next).  If they couldn't figure out which piece was a particular letter, I might give them a hint based on what picture was there.  It is easy to adapt this to your own child.  My kids liked it because it was like a scavenger hunt.  


If the weather is good, you can write a few letters on the driveway, a parking lot, or other concrete/asphalt area with sidewalk chalk.  Then call out a letter and have him run to it or bike around it.  We also have a "Go Fish" deck of cards that you match upper and lowercase letters.  


Since he doesn't seem to have a lot of interest in school, you might get the book "Reading Reflex."  That book is for you.  It has a lot of games for teaching pre reading phonemic awareness skills.  Many of these are just word/sound games (doesn't require any letter knowledge).  Kids who are strong in phonemic awareness skills learn to read quickly when they are ready/interested.  I would make sure he was strong in those skills.  Pushing reading has the chance of backfiring.  A child who hates to read, won't do so unless required.  Once they are capable of reading on their own, you want them to enjoy it.  Enjoying it means they will read more.  Reading more is like practicing more, they will get better.  I think it is important not to kill the love of reading when trying to teach it.  


Please read to him.  Let him sit next to you and look at the pictures.  When reading a caption, let your finger run under the words.  Choose a chapter book to read aloud as well.  Listening to longer stories builds comprehension skills.  Also, as they get older, the stories in the chapter books might seem more interesting.  This reinforces the idea that reading can be a pleasurable experience.  I still read aloud to my kids (8, 11, 14) and plan do always do so -- unless they don't want me to anymore.  They read independently too, but they love to listen while they draw, knit, or just relax. 



post #9 of 13

For more explicit letter recognition practice, some picture books are fabulous: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Dr. Seuss's ABC (try singing it to the tune of the alphabet song instead of reading it!)  and, if you can find it, Richard Scarry's Dictionary, are all good books that even a 6yo would enjoy, if he likes being read to.  


For reading being fun, just read and have fun.  Books of many different levels from baby board books, picture books both easy and difficult, to books that you will have to read him-- anything, depending on what they might enjoy hearing and looking through and not their reading level.  We brought home large tomes that were impossible reading, but they were on crocodiles or compendiums (compendia?) of animal life and ocean life and history of dinosaurs or the solar system which they would spend hours looking through.  The baby board books were useful because they were one word per page, and easy to guess.  It was a comical time of life.  A typical reading-to day would start with the classic Winnie the Pooh chapter, next a baby board book that the girls would try reading, then maybe a graphic novel, Richard Scarry's Dictionary, to a chapter from Harry Potter or How to Train Your Dragon, or even the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings (for my oldest who was a "champion listener", though my youngest was bored bored bored when I did this.  Maybe that's why she started do her own "reading".)  


It would not be an exaggeration to say that we read 20 picture books or more every day back then, plus chapters of other books.  We might have had close to 150 books checked out from the library at any given time, and none went back without reading at least once.  Some of our very favorites we borrowed over and over again.  The best of the best were memorized--don't underestimate the power of memorizing a good book.  I *highly* recommend the books Trout!  Trout!  Trout!  A Fish Chant, and Bird!  Bird!  Bird!  A Bird Chant by April Pulley Sayre for that!


The stacks of picture books we brought home from the library were colossal and on every subject imaginable.  DD2 especially would pull the books off the shelf one at a time and look through it, set it down, repeat, until the entire collection of books were surrounding her ever higher.  The game finished when the shelf was empty.  She wasn't reading yet, but you might say that she loved books.


Both my girls approached reading from different sides, my older wanted to be read to and when she started reading herself, it was heavy on word recognition.  DD2 "read" on her own, sometimes as I said and other times next to me while I read to dd1.  She became a methodical reader by sounding out each letter.


My best advice would be to stop thinking about his age, stop thinking about where he "should" be at, and follow the excellent advice you've been given on this thread.  Don't fret about the schoolish stuff.  You can see if he likes the format (often you can print out sample pages) and if he doesn't enjoy it, skip it without a backward glance.  Both of my girls learned to read without it.  Chances are good that when he does finally pick it up it will come much faster than it did for my girls.

post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
Awesome! Thanks for all the wonderfully fun advice! He used to be really really into picture books. We would go to the library multiple times a week, I've been avoiding the library during flu season though so he hasn't been too interested in sitting still to read with me. Hopefully we'll start going back to the library often again soon. Until then I'm going to try some of the ideas here.
I got uno to play with him to work on number recognition, which he knows more of anyway. But could still use the practice!
post #11 of 13

Just to offer some reassurance. My youngest is just 6. She is not reading. What she's doing are a lot of things that seem to be intensely building prereading skills. She will do exactly as SweetSilver's daughter, sit with this stack of books, pulling one out after another until there are more on the floor than on the shelf. She spends a lot of time writing letters, single letters and the occasional word. She loves being read to and that happens a lot.


I am pretty chilled about it because she is my third child. My oldest didn't read at all til 8, didn't get seriously into reading til 9, and now, at 10 1/2, gets very grumpy if he hasn't read for at least 6 hours a day. He's quite a rambunctious kid and historically could be a problem when I have to take him on playdates to my girls' sedate and civilised friends, but now he is reading, I just download him a new book (we do a lot of book downloads as we often have three people reading the same book at once) and we are set, we don't hear from him the entire time usually. What interests me is my middle child, who methodically taught herself reading by about age 6, still, at 8, has only just really taken off with reading and I think that that is more about an independence leap than anything, she is no longer quite so obsessively attached to being read to (she still gets a few chapters each night, and throughout the day). I think this is complex and more to do with when she was emotionally ready to read books like the Northern Lights by herself, because she was certainly technically capable of reading well long before she . So both my fairly on-time reader and my "late" reader were on about the same timescale with regard to independent reading, regardless of when they cracked the code. I think the other thing is that kids become emotionally able to handle the content of certain books is independent of their reading ability. Neither of mine ever had an interest in those endless ballet or horse or animal type books which I personally think are great for getting kids into reading, and which most early readers I know have ploughed through. It was mainly, I suspect, that they just didn't happen to have an interest that meshed with the book subjects-we needed an electronics or robotics based one to capture their interests. Fairy School was just never going to do it for my pink-hating daughter. . OTOH, my youngest is very different and I will be interested in whether the fact she'd probably love a boxset of  books about unicorns, dancing fairy princesses, and animal magic school tales will actually make learning to read ultimately easier. 


What I've learnt is, they really do learn to read. And my experience is that there is no correlation between early reading and love of reading, none at all, at least in a HS set up. Its funny, my son's little posse of 10 / 11 year old friends, all boys, a year or two ago all us (unschool leaning) mothers were regularly trying not to freak out about their lack of interest in reading-and my son, who has two parents who are nearly always reading something if they are at a loose end, was one of the last to read. Now, its not unusual for the group of them to get together for an afternoon...to sit and read books. They are all from quite different families in terms of their exposure to models of parental reading, but all of them are now as obsessive about their reading as they are or have been about everything else (Minecraft, football, baking). The thing is, in HS, there is no sense at all that an 11 year old boy should not be spending a day reading an Asterix book (or Asimov, or Tolkien, or Percy Jackson). So they do.

post #12 of 13

We use beestar reading. Many PDF downloads worksheets. DD enjoys the interesting stories and pictures a lot. Kids can also do the worksheets online.


post #13 of 13

Oh, and if you can, get a subscription to High 5 or something of interest to him.  When they come in the mail, there is a lot of excitement here.  Don't let the "age" guidelines affect you--check a bunch out from the library to see if any interest him.  My youngest (just now 8) preferred the "younger" versions of magazines until just recently (High 5, National Geographic Little kids, etc).  A bonus is that the Nat. Geo. Little kids doesn't have much advertising, but their older kid version has so much that I canceled the subscription.  Most the magazine companies will let you switch to their other age group mid year if you wish.  






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