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Let's talk pedagogy

post #1 of 103
Thread Starter 
Hello there everyone out there in MDC Land.

I am a new member and have been browsing the Comparison threads and notice that while there is a lot of discussion about how Waldorf works vs. what Montessori works, for example, there is very little discussion about pedagogy in general and which techniques work best for most children (if there are any that are "best"). I find this topic really interesting so I though I would start a discussion. I would love to hear people's views on the following:

1) Individual learning vs. learning as a group (otherwise known as child-centred vs. teacher-centred) - which one is better at the preschool/kindergarten stage? I am rather partial to Montessori and have always considered child-centred approach to be the better approach but I do have friends who say that Montessori did not work for their child because in the mixed-age class, the child always wanted to do what the older children were doing even though he/she was not ready for it (example, a 3-year old who sees the older kids writing in notebooks and then wants to write in a notebook rather than just trace the sandpaper letters). When the child was then put into a classic teacher-centred kindergarten where all the children learned as a group, the child was much happier because noone was doing something else, so there was no "I want to do what he's doing". Anyone have any experience with this?

There is also the Waldorf argument that children should have routine and rhythm and the child-centred approach lacks this because the child just does what he or she wants within the prepared environment. I am less convinced by this, as I think that even within the prepared environment, there is a certain rhythm to the day.

2) reality vs. fantasy There are a couple of other threads discussing this as well. It seems that Montessori and Waldorf are diametrically opposed on this point. Montessori emphasised that a child wants and needs to learn as much about the real world as possible and that fantasy should be introduced later when a child is able to understand the difference and thereby appreciate fantasy for what it is. The Waldorf approach relishes in telling children fairy tales and immersing them in fantasy because (and here I am really summarising so please correct me if I have not explained properly) the child has his or her whole life to learn about the cold hard facts of the real world so why not let children be children. So far, with my 19-month old, I much prefer the reality approach and so, it seems, does she. She loves to look at a picture of broccoli in a book and then run to the fridge and point to the broccoli inside. She thinks that this is the coolest thing. She has a much more limited interest in Winnie the Pooh, Maisy or fantastic stories that she does not understand because she has not yet experienced that in her daily life.

3) Pre-reading and reading skills - I grew up in the public school system in Canada and learned pre-reading and reading skills when I was 6 - nothing before as far as I can remember. I don't think this hindered my ability to read and I was always in the top reading group in my class (but then the whole class learnt to read at the same age) but I do think that my reading comprehension skills would have been better had I learned at least some pre-reading skills earlier. I was certainly quite eager to learn to read before but no one would teach me. In France, children who demonstrate that they are clearly ready learn pre-reading skills (the letters and their sounds) in Kindergarten, which I think makes sense. I also read an article in the French newspaper the other day interviewing a specialist who said that children who read the best and have the best comprehension are those who are taught using the phonics method (synthetic or analytic is fine) earlier rather than later - the reason being that children will have an easier time identifying the sound with the letter earlier rather than later in their childhood.

4) Synthetic phonics, analytic phonics or whole word - which is best for learning to read? Montessori uses synthetic phonics with seemingly huge success. Which method does Waldorf use? I don't even know and would be interested in learning.

Please note that this thread is not for slamming one type of school for the philosophy underlying its approach, whether that philosophy is religious, secular humanist or whatever. It is to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of various pedagogical techniques that are used in each type of school and that's it.

As you can see, I am clearly closer to the Montessori approach but would love to hear from others with the same or differing views on any of the topics discussed above!

Caroline
post #2 of 103
Thread Starter 
Bump!
post #3 of 103
As a teacher who has taught in both public and private schools I have to say that no one "program" works best. The problem with strict pedagogy, found in traditional Montessori and Waldorf etc. schools is that you have to find the school that fits your child. Their mandate is to teach THEIR method and your child has to fit their mould. I've been very happy teaching in public schools (Ontario & B.C. Canada) because I can take the best of all teaching methods and pedagogy and apply them as I see fit to meet the individual needs of EVERY student in my classroom. I use lots of Montessori, Reggio, Waldorf, methods but only pick and choose what works best for each student. That's the beauty of public school... the mandate is to teach to the individual learner and adjust accordingly to guide each child towards success. (That's why public school teachers strike over class size... it's a lot of work to do this for every child... sadly many give up and quit trying...)

At the end of the day it is the teacher who is in the class with your child who makes the difference. Unless your child (and not you!) fits the mould of these schools they won't suceed. I have good friends who LOVE LOVE LOVE Waldorf and were heartbroken when their children did not suceed there. Every child is different and you have to look at what is best for their needs (those kids are really happy in public school right now).

Good luck.
post #4 of 103
Oh, I forget to say to find a school that uses a whole language approach to literacy. Phonics are important, but not a complete tool. In Pre K and early primary there should be lots of story telling, singing, playing and games to reinforce letter sounds and word families. Waldorf uses an oral storytelling tradition to encourage imagination and discourages formal literacy instruction until the later years. Not bad for kids who are uninterested, but if you have a little reader in your house s/he may get frustrated. Again, each child should be assessed to see what type of learner they are (visual, musical etc.) Look into Multiple Intelligences by Howard Gardner at Harvard University.
post #5 of 103
I don't subscribe to the idea that there is any one "best" way to do it, although I have a lot of opinions about "bad" ways to do it. But most children are incredibly resilient and will come out just fine with any educational approach as long as their educators are committed, upright, caring, and capable people overall, and the child is motivated to engage themselves. Where I find the most children run into problems is when they lose that motivation, or misapply it maybe, and this can result from the fact that their attentiveness is compromised (hungry, tired, stressed, etc). I also see them run into real problems when its reinforced over and over again that by engaging, they are really only setting themselves up for negative feedback. This could be in terms of their academic work, but also in terms of their social interaction with teachers and/or other students.

You ask really good questions.

1) Individual vs group learning: As pertains to preschool and kindergarten, I can't really identify much with the word "learning", because I think at this age most children don't need "school learning", I think they best learn by osmosis, especially from other people, but this doesn't have to be a structured group learning experience. I think they need to have rhythm, but it doesn't have to be in a school. They benefit immensely from a rich exposure to well-spoken language. They benefit much more from free and challenging physical play than they do any kind of so-called 'desk work', even coloring or painting. They benefit from self-driven exploration, especially in the rich environment of colors, smells, sounds, textures and plant and animal life provided by the natural world. They benefit from hearing stories. And they benefit from interaction with other children outside the home. I don't think any particular "curriculum" need to attach to these experiences--the ideal curriculum is one that doesn't act as an impediment to these critical issues.

2) I strongly disagree with the idea that "fantasy" needs to be eliminated, and only reintroduced after the concepts of the "real world" are firmly established. I don't see evidence this phenomenon occurs in mainstream education. I'm not very knowledgeable about Montessori, but my hunch is that the "fantasy life" persists somehow, just under the surface, and it simply isn't expressed during the school day.

What I've seen happen in mainstream education is that the attempt to recreate this creative, playful imaginative quality through educational exercises and what have you result in absurdly goofy and clumsy attempts that accomplish nothing. This problem first appeared on my radar screen when my older children were in public middle schools and high school, and at that time I saw the failure of this idea over and over again. The teachers were trying to reawaken "creativity", and what they got back was "kooky". What qualified as "creative" were things like putting google-eyes in your illustrations. There were some students that still held their own natural creative imaginations, and they could apply individual creativity upon demand like this. Those that didn't *have it* weren't relearning it or rediscovering it. I think that we don't well know how to reawaken the creative and fantasy imagination, so I consider it a very risky undertaking to consciously draw children *away* from it at a time that it comes naturally to them. This idea seems now to me to be working against a child's nature rather than with it.

3) Ultimately good reading skills depend on a great deal more than early skills in reading mechanics. Even good early readers, who master very basic early reading easily, need to call upon *very* different skills altogether to progress after the first few years. Developing the aesthetic sensibility toward quality writing in good literature, and developing good comprehension skills, are essentially wholly different challenges that are certainly made more difficult if the student hasn't some mastery of the basic reading mechanics, but otherwise those entry skills in mastering reading mechanics do not continue to serve as good tools for the students as they go on to more advanced reading. Reading "mechanics" must transfer to reading "automaticity", and at that point good reading demands higher level thinking skills.

I think it's a mistaken notion that these higher level thinking skills required for reading develop naturally from the early reading mechanics skills. I see students who have the mechanics down but don't develop the fluidity they need. I see students who have both down cold, but are just "barking" the words--their mentally imagery isn't adequate to follow the narrative. And then I see students who just don't have the "ping-ping", I call it. What they read remains essentially isolated thought, and the students can't or won't access whatever real life or educationally acquired knowledge "pool" that's necessary to apply from within. As they read, the text doesn't attach to anything. These students don't have the 'hooks' to see patterns, to draw correlations to other ideas or experience, or to thoughtfully draw significance from what they've read.

I'm already long trying to say this, but I think in preschool and kindergarten if too much focus, importance, and time is devoted to early reading mechanics, there is too often a price to pay later in these other domains.

4) Waldorf's method to teach reading falls into that catch-all term "mixed approach". It begins with writing, and from writing, the children advance to reading. In terms of phonics, it is taught but I wouldn't characterize the phonics instruction as a firmly "structured phonics" curriculum. Especially in comparison to the highly structured and all-consuming effort put forth in mainstream schools today, reading instruction in WE would appear on the surface to be something of a laissez-faire approach. It isn't at all, but reading instruction elsewhere is something of a highly engineered and orchestrated operation these days.

As with most everything else in Waldorf, the class teacher's own approach largely determines how it is taught in any given classroom, so there's a lot of variety there. There were major differences between how my own two children were taught. In my own judgement, Waldorf does an amazing job in areas where the mainstream schools are still completely flummoxed. But I think it could be improved in certain areas. It's very difficult to accomplish in an independent private school, but I think it would be great if there were the skills or resources to better diagnose student reading difficulties. And I think that a more structured phonics approach should be attended to in teaching spelling. This isn't the popular view right now, but for a lot of reasons, I would not like to see Waldorf adopt a more rigidly structured phonics approach in reading. Instead I think maybe a more rigorous application of it in spelling instruction could be a huge benefit.

Linda
post #6 of 103
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by newmom22
Oh, I forget to say to find a school that uses a whole language approach to literacy. Phonics are important, but not a complete tool. In Pre K and early primary there should be lots of story telling, singing, playing and games to reinforce letter sounds and word families.
Can't write lots now but just one quick question for newmom22: Are you saying that the phonics approach does not incorporate story-telling, singing, playing and games to reinforce letter sounds and word families? I am not a professional educator so maybe I have misunderstood the phonics method but I never thought that using a "pure" phonics method without whole word excluded all this.

Will have more comments later.
post #7 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by cmlp
Can't write lots now but just one quick question for newmom22: Are you saying that the phonics approach does not incorporate story-telling, singing, playing and games to reinforce letter sounds and word families? I am not a professional educator so maybe I have misunderstood the phonics method but I never thought that using a "pure" phonics method without whole word excluded all this.

Will have more comments later.
I have some thoughts on these topics as well, but to this, I would like to say that in traditional American classrooms where traditional phonics are taught, there are a lot of drills, flashcards, and really dull work regarding learning sounds and sound families. Whole language was in response to a lot of these techniques, which took the joy of reading right out of the classroom (unless you happened to be a kid who liked that stuff).

A more contemporary approach that blends whole-language and phonics together is an approach called Phonemic Awareness. It's way more fun and a big part of it is learning through the usage of games, making rhymes, etc.
post #8 of 103
Hi all!
Here a few responses from the M perspective:
One of the key ingredients for Montessori is the group of children in the Children's House, you really can't take the materials out, take the trained adult out and do this with just one child. The community is incredibly important, so I would like to offer that this is not individual vs. group learning, but that we utilize important concepts to both theories.
To clarify the M method of offering the child the possibility to learn the mechanics of language: there are 3 areas of study. The first and most important is Spoken Language: stories, songs, poems, fingerplays. This is an essential feature in Children's House and must occur before any other lessons. (ex, we always give the child a concrete experience, say with frogs, before giving any nomenclature, etc.) Then we go to Written Language and finally to Reading. The child does not solely learn phonics...he also learns phonograms and puzzle words (sight words).
All lessons taught in Children's House utilize the central theories to M involving mechanical memory and psychosensorial manipulation and always proceed from simple to complex.
post #9 of 103
Actually, my understanding of phonemic awareness is that it is the application of phonics based skills. Our spoken language is made up of discrete words, which are made up of syllables, which themselves are made up of the smallest units of sound, called "phonemes. " Phonics can be taught in a creative, playful way but it almost always is relegated to the workbook domain. You can look at the phonics approach as a bottom/ up approach to literacy. For some kids that works, but since only 25% of the English language is actually spelled phonetically it can be a totally irrelevant teaching strategy for a lot of kids.

For example:

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer

in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is

taht frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a

toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae

we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe.


Whole language or “balanced literacy” as some districts call it looks at literacy as a multi faceted approach to learning. Of course, traditionalists would look at the example and say that it is poorly spelled not see that the meaning is still understood. Personally, I would rather see kids trying to get their thoughts out and not focus on the small details (in those early years)

Anyways, my point is that there are many, many ways to teach literacy and phonics is not the be all and end all. Some teachers use shared reading, guided reading, shared writing and guided writing, literacy centres, writer’s workshops... you get the point. Again, it is about the individual learner and schools that advocate "phonics" and "traditional" methods of teaching cater to the very small percentage of students who actually learn that way.

So much more to say, but my baby needs me...gotta go.
post #10 of 103
Quote:
Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer

in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is

taht frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a

toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae

we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe.
I am just on my way out too so I don't have time to type much either, but reading and understanding are two different things. This was established by the Greeks. I'll be back with some info on the historial background to abandonment of phonetics and going to whole language reading instruction.
post #11 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by newmom22
Actually, my understanding of phonemic awareness is that it is the application of phonics based skills. Our spoken language is made up of discrete words, which are made up of syllables, which themselves are made up of the smallest units of sound, called "phonemes. " Phonics can be taught in a creative, playful way but it almost always is relegated to the workbook domain.
I'm with you all the way, until the last sentence! My training in phonemic awareness (and I taught parent-child classes on it as well) were based on no workbooks, and more physical hands-on games, assisted writing, book reading, songs, rhymes, and etc. It is a huge part of phonemic awareness training to engage the auditory, speaking, and visual centers of the brain, not just visual. The important parts of it to me were the identification of sounds within words, being able to take words apart and put them together again, and other creative wordplay. Phonemic awareness is actually something that comes BEFORE phonics - its the ability to discern the sounds in a word. Spelling is unimportant at that point and not part of phonemic awareness at all, as your example demonstrates.

Imagine my surprise when I compared the traditional Montessori method and phonemic awareness training sheets and discovered ... they're identical! Playing "I Spy" with the first or last phoneme ("I Spy something that starts with the sound /b/") or playing rhyming games...or clapping out the syllables...using movable letters to write things down...etc.

I think either approach can work, depending on the child. Some children are scared off of reading due to phonics drills, some can't do the deduction whole language requires. For us, we used phonemic games at home (and she did them at school), she sounded out words for about a year... and then magically, overnight, she was able to read via whole word. It was really weird, to be honest.
post #12 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by newmom22

For example:

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer

in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is

taht frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a

toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae

we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe.
And yet, if I write a word (presumably) new to the reader, such as
"FLOCCINAUCINIHILIPILIFICATION" or "Rhamphorhynchus" and you want to read it aloud or to yourself, don't you break it down and sound it out, using your internalized knowledge of what sounds the different letters generally make in isolation or combination (rh probably sounds like "r"...)?

(Yeah, just TRY reading those out loud)
post #13 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by LindaCl

2) I strongly disagree with the idea that "fantasy" needs to be eliminated, and only reintroduced after the concepts of the "real world" are firmly established. I don't see evidence this phenomenon occurs in mainstream education. I'm not very knowledgeable about Montessori, but my hunch is that the "fantasy life" persists somehow, just under the surface, and it simply isn't expressed during the school day.
I have to agree with Linda, and I'm a montessori mama. I think most of the children I've seen in various M schools do engage in a wide variety of fantasy play, whether the teacher wants to admit to it or not. If they know they're not supposed to be doing it, they just take it underground, baby! The good teachers I've seen help redirect it in cool ways -i.e writing stories, dramatic acting, yoga, etc. OR they ignore it. I have seen some people be not cool and tell kids they can't pretend that the farm animals are, in fact, alive. I agree that there is a wide variation to "creativity" in the M classroom and not everyone needs to play "house" or have a dress-up corner in order to get their creative jones met; but sometimes, when you're doing the seven chain, you're also playing ponies. At one school, the kids had some sort of underground thing about an imaginary pet parrot in the classroom. They named it and everything, but wouldn't tell the grownups anything about it.

I like the reality-based aspect of Montessori and the fact that everything she engages with is in fact, "real" - real knives, real needles, real art materials...but I think there's been a certain level of self-delusion about children's fantasy play. I haven't seen a classroom yet where there is either a)absolutely nofantasy going on or b)teachers not redirecting fantasy play.
post #14 of 103
A few more thoughts...

"because in the mixed-age class, the child always wanted to do what the older children were doing even though he/she was not ready for it (example, a 3-year old who sees the older kids writing in notebooks and then wants to write in a notebook rather than just trace the sandpaper letters)."

This is exactly why it works so well. I am sorry to hear that your directress was maybe inept at guiding the child through this journey, but this is exactly how interest in the materials is stimulated and maintained. There is no way I could teach each child as much as s/he learns from working with the materials herself, and also what s/he picks up from the other children. In my experience, although I like to consider myself a strong guide, the materials and the other children come before the directress. That's why M talked to us about humility and respect. It certainly is something each person has to strive for in his or her own way, with all the ups and downs that entails. No one is perfect. We all stumble on our way.

"When the child was then put into a classic teacher-centred kindergarten where all the children learned as a group, the child was much happier because noone was doing something else, so there was no "I want to do what he's doing". Anyone have any experience with this?"

Great, if you want your child happy just to be following along with others...not that we shouldn't aspire to cooperate with a community. But isn't it more realistic to say, instead of everyone doing the same thing at the same time, each person contributes in his or her own way. Also, this feature is intentional for Montessori. There is only one of each activity especially because we want to offer the child the opportunity to develop his will, being strong willed is more about controlling your ability to wait, or modifying behavior in response to the group, etc, than about instant gratification of "desires".

"I think that even within the prepared environment, there is a certain rhythm to the day."
There is. We have studied the cycle of activity. There is a definite lull in the 3 hour work cycle called "false fatigue" that occurs quite regularly about 1/2 way through. When false fatigue hits, we ride the wave and see that the children are just beginning to take out their most challenging work of the day. When the child enters in the morning, each one has what we call an "orienting activity" that is settling to them and may be a moderate level of challenge. If given the full 3 hours consistantly, the child grows in his ability to challenge himself. This is currently being substantiated and documented.
Rathunde, K., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (in press). The developing person: An experiential perspective. In R.M. Lerner (Ed.), W. Damon (Series Ed.), Handbook of Child Psychology: Vol.1. Theoretical models of human development (6th ed.). New York: Wiley.
The results of the Montessori Education and Optimal Experience Study will also be described in a chapter entitled
post #15 of 103
sorry I'm having technical difficulties.
post #16 of 103
The results of the Montessori Education and Optimal Experience Study will also be described in a chapter entitled “The Developing Person: An Experiential Perspective.” The chapter will appear in the prestigious 6th edition of the Handbook of Child Psychology – Volume 1, Theories of Human Development, due out in March, 2006. Each new edition of the Handbook, published approximately every 8 to 10 years, is recognized as the definitive archival source on the most important theories in the field of human development. Montessori education and the results of the study are discussed in a section of the chapter on flow theory and education.

"children will have an easier time identifying the sound with the letter earlier rather than later in their childhood. "
the sensitive period for refinement of the senses and the sensitive period for language overlap, the child is capable of discriminating sounds and tones that are quite similar in pitch. The child can distinguish all 8 notes in the chromatic scale and 13 notes of the diatonic scale before the age of 6. I am really fascinated by child's discovery in music with M materials. As well as what is the most popular expression of understanding this concept: learning foreign languages.
post #17 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by newmom22
I've been very happy teaching in public schools (Ontario & B.C. Canada) because I can take the best of all teaching methods and pedagogy and apply them as I see fit to meet the individual needs of EVERY student in my classroom. I use lots of Montessori, Reggio, Waldorf, methods but only pick and choose what works best for each student. That's the beauty of public school... the mandate is to teach to the individual learner and adjust accordingly to guide each child towards success.
It is wonderful that you are able to do this newmom22. I wish every school district trusted their teachers that much. Unfortunately, in some places in California and Oregon (and probably throughout the US) that is not the case. Often the language arts curriculum is determined by the school district and the teacher is not allowed to deviate from it. My MIL taught in a school district that used a very strict, scripted phonics based reading program (the worst I have ever heard of). The children were divided into groups depending on how well they read, and the different levels were sent to different teachers. The teachers literally had a script that they read to the students for the lesson. Each portion was timed. If a child, or the class didn't understand something, too bad. If a child was absent, too bad. There was no going back, or slowing down, or speeding up, or adjusting, or enrichment allowed. My MIL was told she was the best in her school at using this program, but she hated the program and thought it was the worst she had ever seen. She said kids fell through the cracks all the time because of it. Thankfully, the district abandoned the program after a few years and switched to something else.

I'm currently looking into different school options for my son (he'll be entering Kindergarten next year) and I always ask if they use a specific math or reading program. I want my child's teacher to be able to be flexible, and use her knowledge and training to teach my child.

cmlp, I don't know the difference between synthetic phonics, and analytic phonics, but I can explain how I was taught to teach letter recognition and sounds to a 1st grade Waldorf class and perhaps you could tell me if its either.

Like most things in Waldorf, you start with a story. The story will contain lots of examples of the letter you wish to teach. For instance, if you're teaching M you might tell a story about a magnificent magician that makes his home atop a mighty mountain. During the story, the children will be asked to participate in the adventure by following along with movement, clapping, making sound effects, etc. As much as possible those things should relate to the letter M. The children might be asked to "march to the mighty mountain" during which time everyone holds hands and follows the teacher who marches around the room and eventually marches 3 steps diagonally up, 3 steps diagonally back, 3 steps diagonally up, 3 steps diagonally back (an M shape). The children might be asked to help make the humming sound that they hear in the story while marching (mmmmmmmmmmmm). The story progresses day to day. Sometime during the week the children might be asked to paint a picture of the mighty mountain, and it will have 2 peaks. Originally the mountain will be painted to look like a mountain, but by the end of the week the letter M will be superimposed over the mountain. Only at the end of the week will the children will be told that this is the letter M and it makes the mmmm sound that starts the words mountain and march and magician. The teacher will do this for many of the letters, but eventually will just introduce a letter and it's sound. Ideally they should get to all the letters by winter break.
post #18 of 103

Literacy in the US

In the 1840 Connecticut census one out of every 579 citizens was illiterate. By 1940 the literacy figure for whites was 97% and 80% for blacks. By the end of the 20th century 40% of blacks and 17% of whites can't read at all. Obviously there is more to this terrible down trend than just the methods of teaching reading, but the interesting thing is that during WWII, American public schools switched from teaching reading with phonics to nonphonetic methods.

I am currently teaching my DS to read using traditional phonics and he is picking it up at lightning speed. My DD learned to read at school (Waldorf inspired/intergrated day/multiple intelligences of Howard Gardiner public school) using a "whole language" mix of phonics, rhyming, sight reading and guessing, basically the PC and now preferred teaching method. She started being taught in 1st grade (kindergarten she was exposed to the Waldorf method of stories and rhymes with the letters). She is now in 2nd grade and still isn't a fluent reader, has little grasp of phonics, she doesn't tend sound out a word she doesn't know but will guess, and more often than not get it wrong. I am now having to go back to basic phonics with her. One reads for meaning, if decoding is difficult and an effort it will lead to frustration and in the end "to hell with it."

Quote:
Originally Posted by DashsMama
I'm currently looking into different school options for my son (he'll be entering Kindergarten next year) and I always ask if they use a specific math or reading program. I want my child's teacher to be able to be flexible, and use her knowledge and training to teach my child.
I honestly think that reading is a one to one task and is best done at home rather than being left to teachers at school whatever method they use.
post #19 of 103
Traditional phonics are great and lots of kids thrive on those worksheets and booklets. There is a sense of satisfaction for many of them at having completed page after page of tidy letters and activities. My caution is that not all students learn this way- that’s why I’m such a big fan of multiple intelligences... Many children. particularly boys, need a more active, hands on approach in a familiar context. If direct instruction works for your kids, super! I think it is great that you are taking the time to work one on one with your kids. That in and of itself is the greatest indicator of literacy success!

post #20 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by newmom22
Traditional phonics are great and lots of kids thrive on those worksheets and booklets. There is a sense of satisfaction for many of them at having completed page after page of tidy letters and activities. My caution is that not all students learn this way- that’s why I’m such a big fan of multiple intelligences... Many children. particularly boys, need a more active, hands on approach in a familiar context. If direct instruction works for your kids, super! I think it is great that you are taking the time to work one on one with your kids. That in and of itself is the greatest indicator of literacy success!

Teaching a child, boy or girl, to read with traditional phonics is quick and easy IME (limited ). In two weeks of very relaxed teaching DS is reading as well as my DD did in four or five months of 1st grade in school using a whole word/multi approach. I don't use much in the way of worksheets. We have one book with reading drills and reading passages and a workbook for writing and I will soon introduce a Waldorft style handwriting book. I am very careful not to over do it so he gets frustrated and bored, quite the opposite he takes great pleasure from reading a row of words. I am frankly not impressed with the early reader books I have they seem so trite and boring even for my just turned six year old. He is delighted at being able to read them though. As he seems to be grasping this quickly, hopefully we can move on to more interesting books soon.

I realize I am nit picking here, but I don't see what I am doing as direct instruction, for me direct instruction is the use of Pavlovian/Skinner behavioral methods in teaching, ie what the majority of the commerical/computerized reading programs utilize. I am merely doing what mothers have been doing for centuries, teaching their children to read which seems pretty "hands on" to me. We are not homeschoolers.... yet!

It is clear from research that the whole word method works well for 1st and 2nd grade, but once they need to start reading more advanced text, then it becomes problematic if the child doesn't have the basic phonics down. Fluency in reading requires cracking the symbol/sound code and trying to memorize whole words or guessing at meaning becomes a very difficult and often humiliating task for a child.

If you understand the reasons behind the whole word approach to teacing reading took place and how devisive it actually is, a few weeks of phonics and children are off and reading is well worth the effort.

I hear you about boys learning differently to girls and needing a more active approach. But why are boys failing in schools? Is it because they don't have the basic reading skills to allow them to learn? Could whole word reading methods be part of the problem rather than the cure? These are questions I don't have an answer for and are probably moving this away from the OP, but I think they are valid.
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