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An article in the Freedom to Learn column of Psychology Today: Children Teach Themselves to Read, by Peter Grey: Unschoolers' accounts of how their children taught themselves to read.

Peter Gray, a research professor of psychology at Boston College, is a specialist in developmental and evolutionary psychology and author of an introductory textbook, Psychology.

Cute line I just got to at the end:
"Finally, I can't resist ending with a little story about my son's learning to read. He was a very early reader, and one of the first indications of his reading ability occurred when he was about three and a half and we were looking at a Civil War monument in a town square somewhere in New England. He looked at the words, and then he said to me, "Why would men fight and die to save an onion?"


Lillian
 

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I love this piece- finally, one from a mainstream source that may impress our friends who do not homeschool!

Thanks for passing this along, Lillian. I've been guilty of sitting down with my son and asking him to read me a Bob book to keep up his reading skills. Funny, I finally stopped making him to this a few weeks ago when I realized that he just wasn't interested.

And just today he was reading a few labels to me in the grocery store- without any suggestions or prodding from me...
 

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Lovely article, Lillian. Thank you for sharing.


I admit, it's always a good boost to see a piece like this on a more or less mainstream site.

Thanks again,
Em
 

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Excellent. Thanks for posting the link, Leslie. This especially jumped out at me (and DH who was happily reading over my shoulder as usual):

Quote:
A fundamental psychological principle is that anxiety inhibits learning. Learning occurs best in a playful state, and anxiety inhibits playfulness. The forced nature of schooling turns learning into work. Teachers even call it work: "You must do your work before you can play." So learning, which children biologically crave, becomes toil--something to be avoided whenever possible.
Oh yeah... that! Nothing I didn't already know, but somehow he worded it in such a way that truly reminded me of the many compelling reasons for why we do what we do (or don't do, as it were).


The best,
Em
 

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It is a good article - and if you click on his name and go view all of his previous articles, he has some really great pieces on self directed learning, educational system, etc. I love them!
 

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"As long as kids grow up in a literate society, surrounded by people who read, they will learn to read"

I couldn´t agree more and am thankful for the info. about this article and this psychologist....especially because last night, I had a revelation with my son, who is will be 3 yrs. old in one month. We have not been teaching him how to read, nor have had the slightest concern on the matter at this stage...but ever since he was 6 months old, he became utterly fascinated with books and LOVES to look at them and have them read. We, obviously, indulge this obsession and last night, it occured to me that, not only would he finish a phrase here and there with a word or two, but that HE was essentially reading the book to ME - at least about 50% of the first half of the book - I was in shock!

Now, I know a lot of it is probably memory - and maybe he has a good one, but the detail of the language was impressive and I could clearly see that, although he might not have been truly "reading" all the words, this was clearly a step on the way to literacy that did not involve any textbook or lesson plan, but simply a genuine interest in books and the stories they told...it made me wonder if he would eventually learn to read, more or less, on his own in this way if given the time, space and freedom to do so.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
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Originally Posted by sarahdavida View Post
Now, I know a lot of it is probably memory - and maybe he has a good one, but the detail of the language was impressive and I could clearly see that, although he might not have been truly "reading" all the words, this was clearly a step on the way to literacy that did not involve any textbook or lesson plan, but simply a genuine interest in books and the stories they told...it made me wonder if he would eventually learn to read, more or less, on his own in this way if given the time, space and freedom to do so.
He very well might - his fascination with the books seems to be something that self-taught readers have in common. My son, on the other hand, was one who could probably not have initially learned to read in that way, whatever that's called (decoding, deciphering, etc.?) - and he never had any interest in the physical aspect of books when he was little. But he learned so much about everything else from listening to books read aloud and later from reading on his own. He learned about the variations of the art of weaving words into images and humor and all the amazing places the mind can travel; he learned vocabulary and grammar and composition; his mind was expanded with fascinating facts and history and concepts to think about and be inspired by. Those are other parts of reading that are so often assumed by adults to have to be taught, and it so often takes the precious experience away from the reader/learner. I wish we could treat reading as a special treat to share with children and teens instead of thinking of it as so medicinal. I get so frustrated with the notion that parents who advocate more a more natural way of learning don't care as much about their children being well educated as those who feel they need to be trained, orchestrated, and methodically forced. -Lillian
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Lillian J View Post
I get so frustrated with the notion that parents who advocate more a more natural way of learning don't care as much about their children being well educated as those who feel they need to be trained, orchestrated, and methodically forced. -Lillian
It´s sad that there are so many people willing to criticize something simply because it is different from what they are accustomed to or comforable with -
seems highly unintelligent, to me.

We are not planning on homeschooling DS, but are sending him to a school (starting anyway) based on the Summerhill model of child-led education, respecting all aspects of the world as worthy and educational. Though, I am still watchful and wary of "overteaching" - particularly at such a young age and want to make sure his natural, fierce curiosity for learning about almost anything isn´t squashed.
 

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I LOVED this article! My husband laughed because I am a teacher trained in "language and literacy"... basically teaching kids to read. However, I have always doubted that I could teach children to read. I know I have the ability to identify some reading problems/obstacles, and I have the ability to help students overcome them. That said, I have always wanted my main job to be guiding children into a
of reading rather than just being able to read. Being able to read is an essential skill in life. I get that. I think most people (with the exception of people with various reading disabilities) will learn to read naturally. What teachers/parents/adults need to do is help those who read enjoy it! Bring on the graphic novels/magazines/novels/instruction manuals/cookbooks... whatever gets them into it!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
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Originally Posted by briansmama View Post
I love this piece- finally, one from a mainstream source that may impress our friends who do not homeschool!

Thanks for passing this along, Lillian. I've been guilty of sitting down with my son and asking him to read me a Bob book to keep up his reading skills. Funny, I finally stopped making him to this a few weeks ago when I realized that he just wasn't interested.

And just today he was reading a few labels to me in the grocery store- without any suggestions or prodding from me...
Oh, yeah - been there/done that. Here's an excerpt from an article I wrote years ago about my own journey:

"When we started homeschooling, I soon found, to my great surprise, that my son was rapidly learning things on his own that I couldn't have dreamed of. I had thought I'd be a good teacher, what I hadn't realized was that he would be his own best teacher.

One day, for example, we started out on a long drive in the car, and I handed him some little books I wanted him to read to me while I drove - Little Bear, and Frog and Toad books. We hadn't been "working with reading" for a while, and I was getting anxious about it, so I thought we could make good use of the time on the road to "catch up." He was disappointed, and said he'd planned on reading his Nintendo Power magazine on the trip. I insisted that we needed to "work on" his reading. We went back and forth. If my anxiety had been registered on a meter, the needle would have been banging on the high end! We were "behind." I wondered what had ever made me think we were capable of homeschooling? Finally, he whined, "Well, can't I just read you my Nintendo Power?" Anxiety rising, and assuming he was just looking at pictures in that magazine, I called his bluff with, "Fine! You do that!" Well, he did. He opened the book and began to read long, relatively technical passages with multi-syllable words. He had taught himself to read beyond the Little Bear, and Frog and Toad, level because he wanted the information he could find in books that required more advanced reading. By the way, I've heard a number of other moms share almost identical stories.

And that's the way it works - our minds learn easily from our natural inner pursuit of knowledge. I saw that dynamic demonstrated for the rest of our homeschooling years. About the time I'd start to wonder how best to provide ways for him to learn a subject, I'd turn around and find that he'd already learned it. I read to him a lot - wonderful books that we both loved - and provided lots of stimulation, interesting materials, and fascinating field trips. Rather than being a teacher and lesson planner, I was his facilitator."
Lillian
 

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Thank you for this. I needed to read this as I've been going through a time of self-doubt, worried that my only 6yo child is getting behind because he's not reading fluently yet. I've posted this to FB and sent it to several family members.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
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Originally Posted by MarineWife View Post
Thank you for this. I needed to read this as I've been going through a time of self-doubt, worried that my only 6yo child is getting behind because he's not reading fluently yet. I've posted this to FB and sent it to several family members.

Here's another thread that should be very encouraging:
"I have a 7 year old non-reader" support group

Lillian
 

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I'm usually pretty good at keeping things in perspective. At 6yo, he's still so very young. He has plenty of time to learn to read. I think two things happened that started to make me worry. First, he went through a pre-reading spurt over the summer when he began to recognize certain words and could read some things. Then, it seemed to stop. For several months now he hasn't been interested in reading very much. Second, all of his friends his age are in school now and being taught to read so to all the other families he's behind. I think he feels behind sometimes, too, because he asked when he'll get to go to school and wants the phonics books his best friend has.
 

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We don't unschool (we do homeschool, just more structured), but my 7 year old taught himself to read. And add, subtract, and multiply. (When he was five, he announced at the dinner table that 3 sausages, 2 times, was 6.) Every time I try to teach him something, he says, "I know!" And he does!
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by sioleabha View Post
We don't unschool (we do homeschool, just more structured), but my 7 year old taught himself to read. And add, subtract, and multiply. (When he was five, he announced at the dinner table that 3 sausages, 2 times, was 6.) Every time I try to teach him something, he says, "I know!" And he does!
My ds has definitely learned basic math on his own. I have never sat down with him and tried to teach him such concepts. He just figures it out. It's so amazing and exciting and fun to realize he's done that. Even my dh, who was initially apprehensive about homeschooling and completely skeptical about unschooling, now brags about it to his friends.
 
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