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Early Reading???

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
My four year old Molly, came to me today and told me she wants to learn how to read. I don't believe in pushing skills on children, but on the other hand if she's asking I think I should help.
Does any one know of any early reading programs? Any advice would really help.

post #2 of 36
Read to her. Ask her to choose the books, and let her speak the words she wants to.
Read the same books over and over.

Phonics games.
Avoid naming the letters for as long as possible, there is no "tool function" for children.
Small letters only (leave the capitals to later)

build ups. eg:

a - - - at - - - cat - - - at - - - bat - - - at - - - mat

Try not to sit down to do drill or fixed learning, but keep everything physical. eg: put a pile of cards (12 say) in another room and then say, "go and find a card whose sound begins with bh! (or t- or c-)

(the sound bh BTW is what you would here at the end of a word like "strawb", t- is the sound you would here at the end of "tent" and c- at the end of kick).

For simplicity, treat k, c, and q equally, ignore x , but include th- and sh-.

When she has a handle on the fact that these different sounds can be isolated, matching them to the small letters can begin.

Hope this as a start helps.

post #3 of 36
Thread Starter 
Thank you! I was hoping you would see this. We have been reading to her since she was 6 months old. I would have thought that letter recognition would have been the first place to start. Did I read you correctly? Am I not to teach the "letters" or just not to teach the sounds associated with them? Does it set her back that she already knows most of her letters and some sounds? (pre-school)
Thanks so much for your input.

post #4 of 36
Originally posted by peggy

1) I would have thought that letter recognition would have been the first place to start.

2) Did I read you correctly? Am I not to teach the "letters" or just not to teach the sounds associated with them?

3) Does it set her back that she already knows most of her letters and some sounds? (pre-school)
1) Yes, though pointing to words you know she'd like to read, for her to read is not going to damage her I'd stay away from the "OK darling, whats this, and this and all together cat! Great job!"

This is undertaken by people who fear that their children need the love candy because the kids may not want to do it. Children will make towering effort, regardless of our mutterings. Having said that, if the child does something of their own volition, and it really does surprise you, "Wow" fits.

2) Yeah! Don't teach letter names. Only the sounds. I can't remember the exact figures now, but it runs along these lines . . .

Out of the first 300 words a native child learns, 287 or so are of German origin, as opposed to latin / bastard French, which means they are easy and simple like "hard" instead of "difficult".

After the basic phenomes come the "combos", then the "rules". All the other stuff will just be picked up naturally.

3) I work in an extreme environment, where small errors in teaching meathod show up quickly or are magnified as problems in the long run. The normal environment that native children use to self-correct does not exist, so the essence has to be administered. Teaching the names of the letters will not help. Your environment is not as extreme as the one I teach in, so the danger of "har" is significantly reduced. You will not be able to prevent your child from learning the ABC anyway, so don't waste rime doing it.

I should write more about this, but I have to go to bed.


Thanks so much for your input.
you're welcome, look forward to our next encounter.

post #5 of 36
Wow - this is really interesting! don't worry I am not trying to teach my 5 mo to read - lol! What Alexander said about not teaching the letter names makes sense in terms of learning a foreign language - I still can't say all my ABCs in french or spanish (what's Q?), but I can say some words and can read (some) it does seem like a seperate memorization type thing to be able to say the alphabet. Never though of it before! Good luck Peggy!
post #6 of 36
Before you do anything, think about what it means for your child to be able to read. It means she can read *everything*, including graffiti, newspaper headlines, etc. Is that something you want for such a young child?

We're unschoolers and my hope was that my children would each learn to read around age 7. My 4 1/2-year-old son, however, taught himself how to read a few months ago (simply by being read to a lot) and now I have to be *very* careful when we're out (and even when typing on the computer since he can read so quickly).

If I were you, I would just read to her and let her pick it up on her own. And hope it's not for at least a couple more years or when she has to learn at school.
post #7 of 36
Thread Starter 
I can understand your concern, but there is so much more positive to reading than negative. It opens up a whole new world. I wouldn't have even thought to "teach" her yet. Since she asking though, I feel it's my job to provide the tools to help her.

post #8 of 36
Hi Peggy! Just wanted to tell you that I was just over 4 when i started reading. I am the third child, and my mother thinks that is why I showed an "early" interest in reading. I wanted to be like bro and sis. I begged to start school when I was 4.5! So I went to Montessori part-time. Anyway!
My mom pulled out her old "See Spot Run" books. I don't remember the process. But according to mom I loved learning, and she didn't force in any way. I had a fascination (and still do) with the dictionary. I wanted to be able to open it up and find out what things were. : Whatever flies your kite, you know!? I also agree that there are so many positives to reading. Autonomy is a wonderful thing! Your daughter is asking. I doubt she would do that if she weren't ready. Good luck!!
post #9 of 36
No one ever seems to like my advice.

Of course there's "more positive to reading than negative", but why rush it? I think pretty much all of the positive at this point can be obtained through being read to and there's plenty of time for "opening up a whole new world" beyond that later. I'd rather not open up the world of "Mother Kills Five Children" and "f__ your mama" until children are older. Just because children are capable of learning to read doesn't mean they're ready for that. But that's just my opinion...
post #10 of 36
Hi dandelion!! I don't mean to pick, but doesn't unschooling have something to do with letting people pursue what the want to learn? I don't really know anything about it except what I have read here. but I am under the impression that it is self-directed. If a child is asking to learn, what would you say? No? I am truly interested in this topic as I am a novice mother, but life-long learner.
post #11 of 36
Peggy, If you are starting from scratch, don't teach letter names first, just the sounds. But if your daughter already knows some, it won't harm her, as long as you are clear about the difference. You can't unlearn something that is already learned, so use it to your advantage.

With a child who is keen to learn and just absorbing the literacy around them, I wouldn't be too purist about it. These children, in my experience, are quite capable of learning letter names and sounds side by side. They are also capable of understanding lower case and capitals. Use these correctly - ie a capital for her name (I explain this as 'because we use capitals for things that are important, like names and the beginning of sentences")

It sounds like she is already well on her way, so don't underestimate what she can do. I tell children that the letters are called their names and that they say their appropriate sounds. That way you are being clear. Soften the sounds that the letter makes, try to isolate it down rather than give it a harsh ending. Steer clear of the tricky ones at first and work on ones that give greater flexibility for word recognition and word building. - eg c-a-t can be come m-a-t or h-a-t or p-a-t.

As for reading readiness, she will show you if she is ready or not. Sounds like she is, but don't push it. Simple books with rhyme and repetition are great. I know lots of children who learned to read on books like 'Mrs Wishy Washy' and "Not Now Bernard'. A lot of parents complain that their child has just 'memorised' a book. Duh! That's what reading is- you use your memory! From memorising favourite books she will gradually recognise words in different contexts.

Read to her as much as she wants, and play games with the letters and words. Magnetic letters are great on the fridge but you have to hunt for lower case. I found some wooden ones made by 'Melissa and Doug's classic wooden toys' - Lights, Camera, Interaction inc. They have both capitals and lower case letters.

A great way to make her feel like a reader also is to teach her her name and then those of the immediate family. When she can indentify some simple words you can have fun writing sentences and drawing pictures to go with them. She can read them back and make them into little books, cards etc.

I agree that children shouldn't be pushed to learn to read, but I also think that if they ask to learn, you should take their cue. Otherwise, what is the message? That you think that they aren't capable yet? And what is your option with a child who is motivated to learn by themselves?

Hope this has been of help!
post #12 of 36
Thread Starter 
dandelion, of course your advice is appreciated! I am always grateful when anyone responds to my posts, whether I agree with them or not.
However, I am into child led learning, if my daughter is interested in something, I really believe it is up to me to provide her the tools to learn about it.
Have you read about the Waldorf philosphy? They are very much into waiting until "the change of teeth" to teach certain things , like reading. They have a wonderful program, much of which I agree with and practice in my home.
Thank you for responding to my post.

post #13 of 36
Thread Starter 
We must have been posting at the same time! Thank you! Your post was very helpful. She does already recognize her name and some street signs, STOP , the sign for the grocery store(even when seen somewhere besides the sign)and other famaliar every day words. She will also bring me something that she's looking at and say "What's this word?" So she does seem interested in more ways than just saying so. I will continue to let her set the pace though,

Thanks again!

post #14 of 36
Peggy - then you already have a reader! There will be no stopping her now.

If she already recognises those words she will probably learn without a great amount of phonic input. Some children are whole word learners. (I had to learn phonics when I did my post-grad teacher training, yet I taught myself to read at four.)

That is not to say that phonics are not important, so still help her to learn her sounds. But if she is already recognising words you should have no problem with her learning letter names and sounds simultaneously - she is on the way there already.

With a child who is already recognising words, I would focus on the reading lots of stories with repetition and rhyme and encourage her to 'have a go' from memory. Encourage her to use pictures and context as cues, in addition to phonics.

Also point out words to her when you are out and about. Point out letters that she knows and help her to sound things out. Make little books from the words that she recognises and start building on them into sentences that she can read. Do not underestimate what children can learn so as you use a capital letter or a full stop (period) as you write, tell her what you are doing, just in conversation.

I have seen many four and five year olds who point out things like speech marks and exclamation marks in books, because they have been told what they are. It doesn't have to be a lesson, but should be done just as you'd point out a black cat or a muddy truck in conversation as you go about your errands. Why withold this information from a child who is eager to learn?

Anyway, I'm on my soapbox about people underestimating children's brains right now so will step down......

Have fun on your literacy learning journey, it should be a joy for you both!
post #15 of 36
Here's a game.

Put a card in the sink with the word on it like "desk". On the desk put another card with the word "bed" In the bed, put another card . . . .

Hope this helps

post #16 of 36
Thread Starter 
You guys are great! I love all your ideas. I can't wait to get started. Feel free to add ideas here when you think of them.
Thanks so much!

post #17 of 36
You don't have to agree with any of them at all, but since a couple of you seem interested, here are just a few of my opinions on the subject:

1) If a child needs to be *taught* to read, he or she is too young to read.
2) Just because a child is interested in learning something doesn't mean she or he is actually ready to do it. (Should I let my 15-month old trim her own nails like she wants?)
3) Recognizing signs or labels is more like recognizing shapes than reading. It is a step towards recognizing letters and words, but no more so than recognizing a duck-xing sign with no letters on it.
4) Most of this thread doesn't seem to be in line with the Waldorf philosophy at all.

By the way, in a previous life (figuratively speaking) I was a kindergarten teacher and I could give you lots of advice on prematurely teaching children to read (I've done it with many, many children since it was my job), but instead I'll tell you that almost all children will simply teach themselves when they're ready as long as they're read to often and their questions are answered. But of course you should do what *you* think is right... I hope it all works out as you want.
post #18 of 36
Thread Starter 
"Most of this thread doesn't seem to be in line with the Waldorf philosophy at all"

No, I didn't mean to say it was. I mentioned Waldorf because it sounded like some thing you would be interested in because they delay teaching certain subjects, including reading, until age 7 or so.

I don't hope it works out the way *I* want it to. I hope it works out the way my Daughter wants it to.

post #19 of 36
I recommend the BOB books. They are short, funny, and have great simple pictures. Letters and words are presented in a logical fashion meant for teaching reading gently. It is really easy to read along with you, picking up names and words as they go and see a pattern. Does that make sense.

Here is a sample from the first one (sorta, I am working from memory)
Sam. Mat. Sam and Mat. Sam sat on Mat. Mat sat on Sam. Sam sad. Mat sad. Sam OK Mat ok.

The reason I like these is if your child isn't ready to read they are still fun stories and you still have all the benifits of reading to your child. If she is ready to read she will probably start picking stuff up like letter sounds and decoding on her own without much effort.
post #20 of 36
<<If a child needs to be *taught* to read, he or she is too young to read. >>

And if I need to be taught how to do pottery, does that mean that I am too young to do pottery?

I just don't buy this statement at all. Different kids need different amounts of help in learning to read. Some kids need little, some kids need a lot. I think the important thing is for the parent to be in touch with what is right for their particular child and to work in harmony with their child.
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