has anyone just let their child teach self to read? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 30 Old 12-19-2001, 12:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My 5yo dd is very interested in reading, but I am balking at "teaching" her right now. She knows her letters and she does some invented spelling, sometimes asks me to spell out words for her so she can write very short letters or stories (about one or two sentences), and recognizes some simple words and can sound out some words. I am very interested in the possibility (having read about it in John Holt) that she will just teach herself to read without any help from me other than reading to her. Has anyone else approached reading in this way? Did your child really teach her/his self?
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#2 of 30 Old 12-19-2001, 12:08 PM
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Yes, I did! I felt the same way as you - I didn't want to try to teach my son to read before he was ready, and I was in no hurry for him to do it - I was interested in seeing if left to his own, he would learn it naturally when he was ready. At around 5 yrs. he was similar to your daughter, recognizing some words, spelling a few words himself, and knew the alphabet and most of the sounds. He found my dh's old Garfield books from when he was a kid, and there are lots of short words and phrases in them. He started "reading" those books a lot, and by the summer he was actually reading-reading. He's 6 now and reading EVERYTHING - he's on The Hobbit for the 2nd time.

I had planned on waiting until he was around 8 before working on reading with him if he hadn't picked it up yet. Now I'm so glad I waited, because he reads so well, and he learned in his own time and way. I plan to do (or rather not do) the same with my younger two kids as well. I realize they might not read as quickly as he did, I think 5 1/2 is a little young, but I plan to give them until at least 7 or 8 I think, and I'm pretty sure they'd be reading by then. I do realize that different kids learn in different ways though, and if one of mine seemed to need extra help, I'd give it of course! I just want to give them plenty of time to try and work it out themselves first.

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#3 of 30 Old 12-19-2001, 12:51 PM
 
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I know of several children who taught themselves to read by the time they were 7. I think it's amazing and wonderful. My dd is 5 1/2 and was asking for help with reading. I bought her the Bob books and left her to them. Not helping at all. She did amazingly well on her own but wanted to learn more quickly and asked for more help. I have been working with her now. However, if she had not asked I would have left her to it. I have read about how well children do when left to their own devices and really think it's great. It just didn't work for us. Maybe with my son. My dd is a perfectionist and she wanted to learn faster than I think is normal at her age. She loves doing her "reading lessons." She's one of those who constantly asks to "do school" even though I lean toward unschooling. I say if your daughter is doing well on her own leave her to it. She'll let you know if she needs help. Good luck.
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#4 of 30 Old 12-19-2001, 01:15 PM
 
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I taught myself to read when I was 4.

I strongly believe (I am a beginning reading teacher now) that when children are read to often, have a print rich environment, and are talked to about what is being read, then many can pick it up without "instruction"

Sounds like you are headed for the wonderful world of beginning reading very soon!
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#5 of 30 Old 12-19-2001, 02:02 PM
 
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My dd was in school when she learned how to read. not that it made a bit of differance. Starting at six mo she had bedtime stories. At four we started reading her chapter books. At 6 1/2 she could read. she was taught (at school) but her progress was slow until she was ready. She is now almost eight and can read and understand anything. By the way we still read aloud to her. My younger dd is almost four and doesn't know all her letters but is determined to learn to learn how to read anyway. Talk about a whole language kid!
In short read to them and they will read.
Suzette
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#6 of 30 Old 12-19-2001, 05:07 PM
 
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Heck, ALL kids teach themselves to read...all we can do is facilitate.
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#7 of 30 Old 12-19-2001, 07:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for your stories and support. I had also taught myself to read at age 4, and can you believe I was actually a little bit concerned that dd had not done the same yet??? I had a nagging thought that if she hadn't done it by age 5 - would she do it at all or would she need more help? But I'm also a very competitive person, and don't want to push my nature onto my child. This is why I hesitate to "teach" her anything - I want her to be led by her own interests and abilities. From your stories, it sounds as though dd really is on track. Considering that we are a TV-free household, she also has a lot of incentives for learning to read!! I just need to keep reining in my impulse to make my child an extension of my own ego!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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#8 of 30 Old 12-26-2001, 03:48 PM
 
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These are all great posts to read. My dd just turned six last week and I have been doing pretty much the same (or not doing, for the most part). I worried about how to teach her to read because my son, who is twelve, went to school for several years and seems like he "learned" reading there by some mystical manner that I don't know. However, she has long since learned upper and lower case letters, the sounds, and does much of the same as your dd. She is now reading many common words, and doing a fabulous job sounding out most words when she feels like it. I have read alot of posts in favor of 100 Easy lessons but when I took a look at it in the book store, it didn't resonate with me as something dd would want to do or that I would feel natural or comfortable doing either. Now I'm glad because she's picking it all up very nicely. She's very curious and when I read to her, picks out from the page many of the words I've read. She does awesome invented spelling and wants to know if she's right so I praise her for hearing all the right sounds in the correct order and explain the correct spelling. She accepts this very happily. She also loves it when I write a group of words on our small blackboard for her to figure out (like cat,hat,etc., or -ing words like sing, ring, etc). I do ask her to read to me from early readers a few times a week but that's all I "assign" and it makes her feel really good about herself because she does well. Isn't it fun and amazing to watch them put it all together, no matter the age? I missed that with my son when he went to school, but he's been home two years now! Yippee!
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#9 of 30 Old 12-26-2001, 08:34 PM
 
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My ds is nearing 6 and I've been wondering about this very thing. And he's in that same place - he likes to spell words out and sounds words out nicely, but he's different in that he does *not* like to sit and read. And we've read to him since he was a baby, he just does not enjoy it very much. He's quite kinesthetic in his learning style, and I don't think he's ever going to be one who'll sit and "do lessons".

Thus far we're just trying to take it easy and offer books suited to his interests. I was getting worried, but after reading everyone's posts I'm feeling better!

C ~ mama to (16), (13), (9) (5)

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#10 of 30 Old 12-26-2001, 10:24 PM
 
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My Hannah is not alone!

I actually bought the 100 Easy Lessons book, on recommendation from a friend... just haven't convinced myself that I can teach my 5 y.o. dd to enjoy something I LOVE using a means I will abhorr! While I've been procrastinating, she has gained a "word book" to keep track of words she knows how to spell on her own and wanders all day adding to it. Her 3 y.o. brother is inspired to write more than just his H
I wondered, deep down inside, if she just wouldn't get the hang of this herself, she sure seems to be curious enough...
Thanks for the insight!

~diana google me: hahamommy. Unschooling Supermama to Hayden :Super Cool Girlfriend to Scotty . Former wife to Mitch & former mama to Hannahbear
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#11 of 30 Old 12-27-2001, 04:48 AM
 
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DS (4yrs) has pretty much learned to read on his own. I wasn't comfortable with 'teaching' him to read but I answered when he asked me what a word was. I agree with zealsmom though. READ, READ, READ to your child, have fun and enjoy the stories together and enrich your home with books and language. If the interest for them is there, they'll probably pick it up quickly.
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#12 of 30 Old 12-28-2001, 03:24 PM
 
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Yeah, I taught myself to read, pretty much.

I was about ten though.

No hurry. If they make by the time they leave school, what's the worry?

a

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#13 of 30 Old 12-29-2001, 03:13 PM
 
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I've always heard that there are 2 approaches to teach reading--and 2 ways that people learn--by sight and by ear.
I'm like many of you, taught myself to read at age 4(still love Dr. Seuss because I can actually remember the light bulb moment looking at the cover of one fish two fish--that word there is FISH; the rest cxme easy becuase my dad had read it to me often enough that I memorized it).

As a mom, I would try to learn how my little one learned. For example, I am primarily a visual learner; "sounding it out" and phonics had no affect on my learning; I just "see" the words in my head. But looking at a word in context enough times would teach it to me. So as I was learning, such lessons would have just been stumbling blocks. But someone who leanred more aurally would probably benefit more from having the letters and their sounds reinfoced.

Still, I wouldn't think too much about this; mostly, I DO think it's probably a case of putting the tools in front of a child and then getting out of the way...as long as we all recognize that a major tool is YOU reading.

DD is just starting to want to "write letters" (mostly inviting her dad to a neverending series of balls). It's so fun, this time of discovery in our kids' lives, isn't it?
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#14 of 30 Old 01-12-2002, 10:50 PM
 
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yes! my daughters aged 5 and 8, both learned to read simply by my reading regularly to them. with my first daughter it was quite dramatic. we didn't have a tv, and read a LOT. at first i thought she was memorizing the stories we read frequently, but then i discovered she could read when she picked up a book at the library that we didn't own, and read it to me! this happened just before she turned 3. she has been reading voraciously ever since. at 8 she has read the entire "harry potter"series 4 times, and averages about 6 novels per week. my 5 year old is as you describe, spells very phonetically, does it "her way". she reads too, not as advanced as her sis was, but doing well for her age! reading to them is all it took, i believe strongly in this fun way to "teach"
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#15 of 30 Old 01-23-2002, 05:09 PM
 
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My dd has taught herself to read. She is 6 and reading chapter books. She pretty much started out on them and was never interested in "easy readers".

I am all for kids learning to read when they are ready. If they ask for help, I'd help them, but I don't believe in actively teaching them. There is such a huge range of when children are ready that it really bothers me when kids are made to learn before they are ready. I do think they should be read to alot, though. I think this does actually teach them the basics, without actively teaching them, and in a way they enjoy.
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#16 of 30 Old 01-31-2002, 09:25 PM
 
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I was one who was concerned about my son's "late" reading; I read well at 4, and he was read to, surrounded by books, had a huge vocabulary, etc., from birth! And yet, by 1st grade(which he spent in public school) he was the only kid in his class who wasn't reading yet! That alone, imo, really put the pressure on him and made him feel "lacking"/made reading seem like it was "hard"(his word).
When we started HS, I really pressured him, and he didn't respond well at all. Eventually, I backed off/gave up. Decided it wasn't working and took time off to regroup
We bought him a Pokemon handbook one night just because he really wanted it. And you know what? He taught himself to read with that book over the next few mths. Had it with him constantly, looked at it for about 8 hrs total per day, asked us to read it(which we did, but not a lot as we found it so insipid!, asked us what was this word, that word, etc. Soon, he had memorized many pages, and was sounding out the rest.
Almost overnight, he was reading!
The only other "instruction" we did was reading with him at night(and I would ask him to read a chapter of Beverly Cleary and then I would read the next one or two). Now, he reads at a very high level, and what is more important, he doesn't consider it "work" but fun.
Now, it is writing he is "late" with; but I plan to allow him to grow into it/encourage his interests in things which involve writing(like emailing his friend as he did today, writing a story for the anthology I contribute to annually and which he has been invited to submit to/be in, etc). I would rather he be a teenager before he writes well (or does cursive, FTM, which is, imo, penmanship, not "writing") than to have him write on demand and grow to hate it!
So, yes; my son "taught himself to read", as I did, as my dd will. It is tragic and ridiculous that we spend millions on "literacy"/"every child reading by 7" when it is such a natural, spontaneous process if not buggered up by faulty "teaching" methods! And of course, if there are printed materials in the home. Maybe it would be more cost effective to provide those families without such materials free subscriptions to National Geo. or Book of the Mth! LOL! JMO, Kimberly, mom to Forest, 9 and Lily, 2
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#17 of 30 Old 02-06-2002, 03:36 AM
 
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My baby's only 7 weeks old now, but I taught myself how to read when I was three. I think it was easier because my parents didn't have a TV in the house and we lived on a farm in the woods, and there was just nothing else to do. It was really convenient for my mom because when she had to take me somewhere boring, she could just bring a book, while other parents with children a few years older than me who still didn't know how to read would have to put up with their screaming. I just can't believe that most people don't read until they're 5 or 6. How sad!
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#18 of 30 Old 02-06-2002, 04:07 AM
 
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Hi, I'm on my way to bed so have to admit I haven't read all the other posts yet. But, really do understand that you're probably doing shared reading w/her everyday! Whenever you let her interact w/you as you read stories together that's shared! Plus, you probably still have read aloud chapter books, etc. I'm sure you ask her questions; ie. ooh, what do you think will happen next? That's prediction-a skill on the report card. What happened after, etc. is sequencing. And, talking about the stories conversationally leads to the 5Ws.

You're thinking of phonics & decoding? Do it conversationally again; ie. how do you know that sign says Stop? I do have to say, though, that when we do a focus on a letter the kids LOVE it; ie. we sing all sorts of silly songs to go along w/the letter.

I tell parents over and over that just as important as learning to sound out is the skill of learning from context and picture clues; ie. what makes sense?

I agree that kids can teach themselves to read, but I think you're probably "implicitly" teaching her to read also by being a good role model and mommy.

Make sense? Hope I didn't tread on any toes.
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#19 of 30 Old 02-06-2002, 03:46 PM
 
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Although I agree that many (may be even most) kids can teach themselves to read, I think that it will take some kids far far longer than it takes others. Not having a TV doesn't neccesarily mean that your child will be an early reader. There are several unschooling families in our homeschooling group, many who don't have TVs. Several of these kids didn't read until they were 10 or 11. I'm not saying that was bad, just stating a fact.

There is also a little girl who watches a couple of hours of TV a day who started reading when she was 2 and was reading Nancy Drew books but the time she was 5.

All kids are different.
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#20 of 30 Old 02-06-2002, 04:37 PM
 
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We made some bad choices for our oldest in that we tried to "teach" him to read simply because he was 6. (I cannot believe how dumb that sounds to me now.) To make matters worse, when he didn't read at 7 we decided to "help" him some more. (Somehow he survived that and doesn't hate us for it.) He was able to read at 9. Now (at almost 11) he's still recovering from the combined efforts of his parents and teachers.

I don't know how it will all turn out for him, but I am convinced that unless the child welcomes an adult's help in learning to read, the results will be disasterous.

Our second child asked me to teach her to read when she was 5. I pulled out "100 Easy Lessons" and got to lesson 2 before we'd both had enough. I found it incredibly boring and she got frustrated, saying, "I already know the SOUNDS the letters make, what I want to know is how to READ!" She decided she would teach herself. By the time she was six she was reading on her own. She's now 7, reads very well, and most importantly, loves reading.

The baby will be exposed to lots of stories (as his brother and sister were) but I will not attempt to teach him to read. I'll certainly help if he asks for it, but I am confident that he will do it better without any "program." He may read at 3 or at 11 but I'm sure not going to push him.

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#21 of 30 Old 02-06-2002, 08:04 PM
 
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>"I just can't believe that most people don't read until they're 5 or 6. How sad!"<
Well, I read fairly early, by 4 or so, but as has been said again and again here, every child is different.
My son, who was read to from a few mths of age, watched hardly any tv for his first sev. yrs, and would sit and "read" books to himself from the time he could sit up, didn't read until 8. It wasn't particularly sad (other than my early expectations and consequent pressures I placed on him! He was engaging the world in so many other, concrete ways, the fact that he didn't feel much need for a more abstract way of learning/engaging was of no concern(to him, at any rate
And because I finally wised up and let go of my arbitrary expectations, he was able to grow into that skill in his own time, and is now one who will enjoy reading for life.
I recently read an article on education reform, and Rod Paige, our national education head, was quoted as saying, re' the need for more and earlier literacy programs, "Reading is the basis of ALL learning." It really struck me that THAT idea is one of the biggest problems with the current system/approach. What? Reading the basis/sourse of all learning? Hogwash! We learn constantly in a myriad of ways, and most of do so best through hands-on and/or first-hand experience (esp. true of children!) But in our schools, it is too often the case that reading the written word (and re-gurgitating it on command) monopolizes the process, when it is but one way of learning(and not even the best suited to children.)
But we persist in pushing for younger and younger readers, assuming they will grow into "well educated" minds. In my opinion, the very fact that we feel the need to spend billions of dollars "teaching"/forcing kids to read says a lot; it says they are not yet ready, and that the methods employed do more to inhibit the inborne curiosity and drive to emulate adults than they do to encourage those traits. I have never known a child who didn't WANT to learn to read, when they were dev. ready, who wasn't pushed to do so too soon and developed blocks to it as a result. JMO.
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#22 of 30 Old 02-06-2002, 08:12 PM
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Amen to that!!

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#23 of 30 Old 02-06-2002, 08:29 PM
 
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double amen!
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#24 of 30 Old 02-07-2002, 03:57 AM
 
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When I said it was sad that kids didn't learn to read until 5 or 6, I didn't mean like it was a bad thing or that something is wrong with them or their parents...

I guess I'm just happy that I was able to spend those years reading and I would like other children to know that happiness...but I'm sure everyone can be happy and have fun reading no matter what age they learn.
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#25 of 30 Old 02-09-2002, 07:57 PM
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There are exerts that believe that young children can be damaged by reading before they are 7, 11, or 13 depending on the expert. There is no reason to be concerned if a home learner doesn't read until they are around 11 or some. Someone, I think it is John Holt, said to not encourage learning to read at all. It is so much better for kids to teach themselves to read because they want to function better in and understand the world more.

My two youngest children did not read until they were 11. One day they just could read at an adult level. I had asthma by the time the youngest was born and I couldn't read outloud to him (that is when you know you have BAD asthma) so I was a little concerned about him. Everything turned out OK and he is a great reader like his brothers.
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#26 of 30 Old 02-10-2002, 02:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am so glad to hear all these stories!!! it really helps me to relax and just let things happen. and i can see that they are happening -- but what is even more important is that i can focus on all the NON-reading things that are happening! i loved the point made above that reading is not the basis of all learning. being a great reader myself it was easy for me to buy into that myth, and think that dd needed to read early and quickly. but then i look at my dh, who is a very slow reader (about half my speed) but who has mastered 11 languages and continues to pick up more on his lunch breaks...
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#27 of 30 Old 02-10-2002, 09:11 PM
 
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Check out John Holt's books, particularly "Learning All The Time." I just started reading his work and am fascinated and just loving this man's compassion and love for children.
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#28 of 30 Old 08-10-2002, 04:09 AM
 
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My son knew letters before pre-shool We simply taught the letters to him with the bath tub letter set. He learned to read before he entered K. IT was rather painless, he really did it himslef with little help from us. I read some post here and I honestely can not imagine depriving ym child of the plesuare of readign till the age of 11-13. I did what my mother did with me (In Russian) but it seems to work in Enlgish as well (for us anyway). MY son is very curiuos so he kept asking us about stree , store sign etc. We read them out loud and then spelled them to him He did it constantly and we kep doignt it to. Sometime he ashek how come th is not t-h but the other sound, so we just told him this is way it is, these 2 letter make this sound. One day he read to me in the car BANK, TOY STORE etc. I do not really think that most of 4 year old would agree to formal reading lesson. We plan to do the smae thing with my younger son. Fomr sing he moved to books
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#29 of 30 Old 08-10-2002, 09:33 AM
 
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I wasn't suggesting that anyone "deprive" a child the pleasure of reading, Alenushka, I meant that I would not drill or push a child to read. I'm convinced that children will learn to read without phonics worksheets or curriculum as long as they are surrounded by the printed word and are read to. I wouldn't refuse to explain the sounds of letters if a child asked, but I also wouldn't drill flash cards or worry if a child wasn't reading at 5 or 6 or 8 or whatever. Some children are perfectly happy to learn to read at 10/11 and I think it's important to honor that individual pace.

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#30 of 30 Old 08-11-2002, 03:33 PM
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I think there's a lot of room between formally teaching a child to read and doing nothing that would facilitate reading. Maybe that's the key - facilitating reading, not teaching it. Reading to a child facilitates reading. Talking to a child about words, even in everyday conversation ("Oh, look, there's a sign for the zoo, we must be going the right way!") facilitates reading. Responding to a child who asks, "What does that say?" facilitates reading. A child in a house without interesting books who doesn't have opportunities to interact with the written word won't read.

I just think it's important to note that allowing a child to learn to read at his or her own speed doesn't mean doing nothing. I have heard of people (although it's all second-hand) who didn't want to interfere with the child's natural learning process, so when the child asked, "What's this word?" they wouldn't tell him. I think that's wrong.

dar

 
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