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There are many ways to teach reading, but most are phonics based, because that's what works for more children. "Phonics" itself cannot be boring, because it's just a system. The implementation can be boring, or it can be interesting, depending on the curriculum. There are about a zillion different curricula out there for teaching reading, and I've used exactly none of them, so other people can probably be more help, LOL.

Check out the Reading Eggs website. My daughter LOVES it. It costs a significant (IMO) amount of money to be a member, but it's very nicely done, and requires little parental activity, so you don't need to be bored :) Also check out the book "Learn to Read Using Children's Books." That might not be the exact title, but it's something like that. An older edition is available for free on ERIC.
 

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Yeah, the only other way to "teach" reading is "whole word" and that's been shown to be ineffective for the vast majority of kids. You can also just let them figure it out naturally, by reading to them until they catch on. This works for many kids too, but along the way most kids do need at least some help. They won't all just instinctively figure out that s and h don't go "suh-huh" but make a new sound, "sh".

I'll throw my recommendation out there for Progressive Phonics -- it's all free books, you can print them out or read them online, it starts with very basic and goes through complex phonics. There's really no "teaching" involved for the parent. You just read books together... you read the black words, they read the big red ones - practicing the concept being learned in that book. The stories are short poems, and are VERY silly and engaging with silly illustrations. My daughter loves them.
 

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I have 2 girls. We read a lot. A LOT! Both had showed signs of early reading, but we've never had a lesson. My oldest, 6, reads primarily by word recognition, presumably because we've been reading pretty sophisticated books to her because she is an intent listener. The original Winnie-the-Pooh and House at Pooh Corner and others at 2, the original Jungle Book and Just So Stories at barely 4, The Hobbit at 5, and now the Lord of the Rings at 6. She attempts to pronounce unfamiliar words, and I find she just blazes way too fast for good phonics, so when she tries to sound at a word I help slow her down. Sometimes I don't bother correcting her, sometimes I just quietly point back to the word for her and say "one letter at a time" or "read while I pronounce it". Now she is discovering books she wants to sit down and read. She likes reading familiar books, but she IS reading.

My youngest, 4 1/2 has been using the phonics-style primarily. Again, we don't do lessons, this just happens. I don't even follow the words with my finger unless they ask. At 3 we were reading a Spanish-language kids book (DD1 was into Spanish then) and DD2 saw the word "pollo". I never pointed and of course it's pronounced "poyo". She asked, "Mama what's poLLo?" She has the patience to sound out words. When she reads a book (sometimes she just points to the words with her own narrative) and struggles with a word, I say "What's the first letter?" She gets that and refers to the picture to guess.

So, just by giving them my time and reading they are teaching themselves to read. A little whole-word style, a little phonics, a little guessing. English is a screwy language and I mention that a word is tricky when they stumble across it, like "bought". Yeah, I could go out and buy a book of "sound groups" and make a point, but at 6 and 4 I find no compelling reason to do anything else than what we are doing.

I imagine some kids would not be so self-motivated to read, every kid is different. But I hear it time and again from other parents that many, many kids learn these things without being "taught". For these kids, if you read it, "they will come..."
 
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Originally Posted by tankgirl73 View Post

Yeah, the only other way to "teach" reading is "whole word" and that's been shown to be ineffective for the vast majority of kids.
I believe that's a bit inaccurate. The "other" way is commonly described as "whole language" and when well taught it is very similar to the way in which a large portion of self-taught early readers learn to read. It encourages kids to use critical thinking and contextual cues to figure out text they read, and invented spelling to attempt to encode words they want to write. The idea being that children will explore and discover the phonetic signficance of letters and combinations of letters in a self-driven process fueled by their own curiosity and their own observations, reinforced and guided by the feedback they receive on their efforts and hypotheses.

About 30% of kids in schools seem to need systematic instruction in phonics in order to become capable readers. In other words, a whole language approach is insufficient for about a third of schoolkids. My personal feeling is that this says more about the limited ability of a single teacher in a classroom of 20 to respond optimally to the curious questions and observations of all those different kids than it does about the shortcomings of a discovery-driven whole language approach.

Our local school (which my kids don't attend, but that's beside the point) uses a whole language approach and has excellent literacy scores and lots of really passionate readers and writers, so it definitely doesn't seem to be "ineffective in the vast majority of kids." Certainly there are some kids who don't learn as easily as others. For the couple of kids who are lagging at the beginning of Grade 2, systematic phonics is part of what is offered to them at that point.

Miranda
 

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www.starfall.com is free (though you can buy an expanded version for $35 a year.) My son learned all his letter sounds playing around on that site. He's only 5 and we're not in a hurry to rush him. So we randomly show him about sounding out words, but we don't do anything formal. My husband plays a LOT of rhyming games with him. We also read to him a lot.
 

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Just because only 30% of kids fail a whole language approach in a school setting does not mean that 70% succeeded on that approach. Because some subset of that 70% were taught at home with phonics before entering K, during K and 1st, at Kumon, etc.
 

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Originally Posted by pigpokey View Post

Just because only 30% of kids fail a whole language approach in a school setting does not mean that 70% succeeded on that approach. Because some subset of that 70% were taught at home with phonics before entering K, during K and 1st, at Kumon, etc.
Sorry, my book with this info is lent out so I don't have scientific references, but the studies I'm recalling are more controlled than anecdotal. Certainly whole language seems remarkably effective in our little school (with small classes only 6-10 kids per grade), and this is definitely not an area where kids are getting academic instruction in phonics at home, since most parents are hippie/Waldorf types who believe in little technology and delayed academics. I grew up in a generation that used phonics only for "reading rescue" and illiteracy rates are no higher for my generation than subsequent ones (I was in 1st grade in Canada in 1969). And my own four children read brilliantly and never had a phonics lesson.

I completely agree that some children will need to be taught systematic phonics. I just don't agree that, at least in a homeschooling environment with caring, involved, available parents and a literate home environment, a whole language approach will be ineffective in "the vast majority of children."

Miranda
 

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Originally Posted by Breanne Sproule View Post

Are there other ways to teach reading? I find phonics very boring and I'm not looking forward to teaching it.
If you're teaching a child your opinion about the subject is secondary to the importance of teaching that child.That you find phonics boring is quickly conveyed to the child. The message you send is that phonics is unimportant. Nonetheless, you're right, phonics is boring but necessary. Phonic helps kids learn to read and spell. What you bring to the table matters. My daughter dislikes phonics with a passion, but we go through the dry paces of listening to and writing phonetic patterns. She grumbles when I pull the book from the shelf, but her reading and writing grew by grade levels in one year.

Posters will be quick to steer you in a multitude of curriculum directions, yet the key here is to figure out what will work for your individual child. Not every child will learn to read by being read to, nor will every child learn via software. In my daughter's case she needed to have the physical experience of writing the phonetic patterns for reading to click. One of my other children needed only to hear the pattern to make the connection of the phonetic sound to letters on the page.
 

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Originally Posted by Wild Iris View Post

Nonetheless, you're right, phonics is boring but necessary. .

..... One of my other children needed only to hear the pattern to make the connection of the phonetic sound to letters on the page.
If in the first sentence you're referring to the teaching of phonics being boring but necessary, how do you reconcile that with the second statement? Or do you mean that for some children phonics instruction is boring but necessary?

The trick, of course, is to figure out what your child needs. Parental preferences and philosophies play into it of course; I think there is rarely "one true path" to teaching a particular child, and parental comfort levels, styles and preferences can play a role, but those should be secondary to the needs of the child and I take your point about not unloading one's own baggage on the child.

Miranda
 

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Miranda~

I'm sorry you misunderstood my meaning. I do not mean this: "Or do you mean that for some children phonics instruction is boring but necessary?" My point is this: Yes, I believe phonics is necessary. Yes, I think it can be boring. And I would guess that few children enjoy learning phonics. Matching instruction to how a child learns for a specific subject can make a difference in how well a child connects with what is being taught. Some kid don't need math manipulative to understand a concept while others won't get the concept without the manipulative. When I worked with my son he needed to hear and see the phonemes for phonics to click. My daughter need to see, hear and write in order for phonics to click. Each kids is different.
 

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Phonics as a skill is necessary. Phonics as a SYSTEM is is not necessarily necessary to learn how to read. Phonics is how we deal with unfamiliar words. My daughters, which I posted about above, are both learning to read. DD1 sounds out unfamiliar words, but she mostly uses word recognition as she reads. And that's how we read once we've learned how. We don't sound out words, we know them by sight (only unfamiliar ones do we sound out). Some kids, especially if they are read to frequently, can easily learn by this method. Others learn differently.

The debate seems to be between different systems, but I wonder more about how many kids would teach themselves to read if given the chance? Yes, I've heard of more than a few of these who put off reading until 10, but both of my girls (and they are not alone) are learning to read without systems or curriculums or tests or spelling drills. We read good books, and we read them all the time. When we visit Grandma, SHE reads to them a lot. How many other kids could learn this way? (um, am I in the homeschooling forum? or the learning forum, I forget?)

Yes, I am unabashedly biased towards unschooling and I know not every family and every child is into this, but I find more often than not that LITTLE KIDS especially are natural unschoolers. Maybe I'm hallucinating a really Perfect Reality, but anyhow these are my thoughts.
 

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Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post

Phonics as a skill is necessary. Phonics as a SYSTEM is is not necessarily necessary to learn how to read.
Or at least not necessary for a lot of kids. (Four of whom are mine.) I agree with what you wrote. Obviously all kids need phonetic decoding skills. Mine all intuited those decoding skills from a natural, unschooled "whole language" approach that they led. I don't really understand the intricacies of their intuitive processes, but they were all reading fluently by age 4 or 5 with no systematic instruction of any sort.

Miranda
 

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I don't find phonics boring.
shy.gif
Think of it like cracking a code - knowing that certain symbols match certain sounds and you can put them together to make words you already know. It can be fun for kids. Also playing around with letters (Example: you have the word "at", what letter can you add to the front to make the word "cat"? Now change a letter to make "bat"). What I do find boring is those worksheets where you circle things that start with a sound, etc - those are really boring if you already know the sounds involved and don't really teach you if you don't know. Also they sometimes have weird words or the picture is hard to decipher (is that a "mug" or a "cup"?).

Anyway, I believe all kids benefit from learning both phonics and words in context. There is no reason you need to choose, really. If you don't want to teach the phonics, you can use Starfall, etc. Or just mention the phonic rules as they come up in your reading.

You can get readers that start with a pattern, then gradually divert from the pattern. When I was a student teacher we used a series from "PM Rigby" that was like that. The stories were not based on short easy words, but rather a predictable pattern and picture clues.
 

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Sorry for my earlier statement :) I did mean "whole language" not "whole word", I realized that after I typed it and actually thought I'd changed it.

I don't have numbers in front of me, so I'll concede that "vast majority" could be inaccurate -- that was my impression but I've been wrong before. ;)

I taught myself to read when I was 3, and by kindergarten entry I was reading newspaper articles pretty fluently. Even still, when I was 5 or 6 I found a series of books (my mom doesn't remember them so I've no idea what they were or where/when we got them) in the house that were, as I now know from hindsight, phonics books. But not like Bob readers, they were very technical, with symbols over letters showing different sounds, they were hardcover and each volume was slim and I think they were white. No stories, each chapter focused on some particular technical phonics issue and had examples of words, and I think there were *sentences* as exercises to read, but no stories, no pictures.

My memories are pretty vague, but I do remember how fiercely I loved those books. I worked through them conscientiously and completely independently. And I learned SO MUCH from them about reading and spelling.

My point is -- I probably learned through the "whole language" approach, just watching my parents read and figuring out what those symbols meant (I even have a very faint memory of the moment I figured out the sound that the symbol "R" represents). But I still benefited HUGELY from a phonics program long after I was already reading well.

Oh, and I didn't get much phonics or whole language in school either, because I was in french immersion. ;)

Anyway, my hubby learned to read 100% from whole language. His mom was even an english teacher and believed in that philosophy very strongly. He's an avid reader, but not a *skilled* reader... he mispronounces things all the time in quite surprising ways, and his spelling is beyond atrocious. It could be that he's mildly dyslexics, but he blames his whole language education. Of course it's impossible to say if he would have done better with some phonics instruction along the way. And I certainly agree that phonics does not have to be the "how to BEGIN to read" method. But I do think it's important that somewhere along the way, kids get phonics instruction, just like they should get the mechanics of math at some point even if they unschool math for their first 10 years or however long and have already intuitively figured out a lot of it. :)
 

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One of the great reasons for homeschooling is that we don't need to stick with one system. We can invent one and name it "ferocious verbal accentuation" if we want! In fact, both systems mentioned here seems to have drawbacks when used exclusively.

I know my oldest would really love a book like tankgirl73 mentioned. While sounding out words is not her strong suit, she LOVES books like workbooks (as long as they are presented more like puzzles). In fact, she first started wanting to learn to read when she decoded a secret code puzzle (jokes) and wanted to read the answers. "Secret code" puzzles are perfect for her because they help slow her down and focus on each letter. Otherwise, when she reads a book and sees an unfamiliar word her eyes move too far ahead and she skips over letters and sounds.

I don't remember learning to read. I remember not knowing, then knowing. But I had two older sisters and a Fisher Price school desk toy and we would play school. DH learned at school in the 60's when Dick and Jane still was common. (I think the Dick and Jane stories are based around word recognition.) He can't spell to save his life. He struggles with what I find easy, but then he has a mind that works more mechanically, and he is good at visualizing shapes and is a natural artist. And try as I might to visualize, I can't keep some things in my head like knots or chess moves.

So, maybe whole language is to blame for your husband's troubles, tg73, or maybe he's like my husband.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post

But I had two older sisters and a Fisher Price school desk toy and we would play school.
We had that desk toy growing up... and still do. My daughter LOVES it.

Quote:
DH learned at school in the 60's when Dick and Jane still was common. (I think the Dick and Jane stories are based around word recognition.) He can't spell to save his life. He struggles with what I find easy, but then he has a mind that works more mechanically, and he is good at visualizing shapes and is a natural artist. And try as I might to visualize, I can't keep some things in my head like knots or chess moves.

So, maybe whole language is to blame for your husband's troubles, tg73, or maybe he's like my husband.
Yeah, I've never been convinced that it's the entire problem for him. But his lack of abilities in certain areas means he's no fan of the public school system, so he's always been super-supportive of homeschooling! :)
 

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I teach my students to read by using decoding words lists.  Give the student a list of sight words and then have them use highlighter pens to highlight the small sounds within the word.  eg., candid = highlight 'can' in one color and 'did' in another color.  The child then reads the words by reading each color unit.  Using this decoding method creates confident, fluent readers in a very short time.
 

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Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post

Phonics as a skill is necessary. Phonics as a SYSTEM is is not necessarily necessary to learn how to read. Phonics is how we deal with unfamiliar words. My daughters, which I posted about above, are both learning to read. DD1 sounds out unfamiliar words, but she mostly uses word recognition as she reads. And that's how we read once we've learned how. We don't sound out words, we know them by sight (only unfamiliar ones do we sound out). Some kids, especially if they are read to frequently, can easily learn by this method. Others learn differently.

The debate seems to be between different systems, but I wonder more about how many kids would teach themselves to read if given the chance? Yes, I've heard of more than a few of these who put off reading until 10, but both of my girls (and they are not alone) are learning to read without systems or curriculums or tests or spelling drills. We read good books, and we read them all the time. When we visit Grandma, SHE reads to them a lot. How many other kids could learn this way? (um, am I in the homeschooling forum? or the learning forum, I forget?)
DD1 was my first homelearner. Despite my attempts to remind myself not to worry, I was a little concerned about her "delayed" reading. DH was even more worried about it, and he did put on some pressure. This year was the key - she just really got into it over the last 6-8 months (she turned 8 last month). However, it's my opinion that our attempts to teach her through a mostly phonic based approach backfired badly. She hates English and thinks it's an incredibly stupid language, because of all the exceptions to rules, homonyms, silent letters, and combinations that make no sense to her from a phonics perspective (eg. "ight", "ough", etc.). I wish we'd focused more on whole language initially, as she's been more resistant to reading than I ever would have believed.

DS2 seems to do pretty well with a mostly phonics based approach, but he's teaching himself, and I honestly don't know exactly how he's picking it up - could be more whole language based, but I'm not quite sure.

And, I know I was reading when I started kindergarten, and that nobody knew it. But, I don't remember anything about learning to do it, so I have no idea which system I used for myself.
 
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