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the process of learning to read

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At what point does learning to read through phonics instruction necessarily become similar to whole language instruction in the child's mind? Clearly, when we read, we don't sound out each word (does a ; or a : go here?) we recognize the words because of familiarity. Does true fluency mean that the individual has become familiar enough with words (or parts of words, in the case of new words that can be deciphered through patterns) that they simply recognize them?


On a personal note, when does this start to happen for the average (which means nothing, but if your kid was obviously behind or advanced, this wouldn't apply to them) child? I don't have any concerns about dd, I'm just interested in the process, since this is all new to me. Dd is preschool age, knows letter sounds well, and made it clear she could understand the concept of blending two weeks ago when I showed her how to do it. I am now teaching her how to read. :001_huh: I find it interesting that she can blend, knows the sounds, but each word must be sounded out (of course). When she can start reading her Bob books fluently, will it be because the words have become sight words to her? I'm just trying to grasp what her brain is working toward, with the understand that sheer repetition is what will get her there when she is ready (right?).

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I don't have a proper answer to your question, but I understand where you are at.

My dd was at the "I know the sounds, I understand the blend concept" phase for what feels like a decade, but she is finally getting it. She turned 6 in October and is a completely average kid.

My ds was reading well at 5...not due to any of my efforts. That's just him.


I heard a mom say that teaching reading is like painting a house with a crayon.


I think she's right!


It'll come....don't worry! Sounds like you're doing a super job :grouphug:



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Not sure at what age this happens, but it is a process. I suspect it is different for every child. The consistent practice of blending does eventually become automatic. Once that happens, reading consistently helps it to become easier and more fluid and eventually the brain remembers by memory. I'll never forget the day my son said "Mom, I didn't read that but I knew what it said." He was as surprised as I was. I started to teach him in kindergarten and this happened about a month ago, in 1st grade. I would say he it about average and it was a little bit of a struggle at first. Another thing that always surprised me was that when we began to get frustrated, we dropped it for a week and when we came back to it with a fresh mind, it seemed to just click. Teaching your child to read is one of the most rewarding experiences in you homeschooling journey! Enjoy your time together!

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I'll never forget the day my son said "Mom, I didn't read that but I knew what it said."


I love this! :D


I don't want this question to distract from my OP at all, but as a secondary thought, did you refrain from practicing anything other than CVC words, such as consonant blends, until they had reached this level of fluency? It seems very confusing to me that they are sounding things out letter by letter, but they are expected to remember that some letters don't work that way when placed by another letter, or when augmented by an e at the end of the word.

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We actually started off with ordinary parent guide to teaching reading. It blends word from the end to beginning. for example: at plus n,s,p is nat, sat, pat etc.. This really confused my son and the blending was like pulling teeth. So, we switched to sing spell read and write and they blend from the front. ba be bi bo bu and so forth. After he got the blending... I could not stand the format of SSRW (more like loathed it!) so we went back to OPGTR and used bob books. So I guess you could say we did only blending for a while. With my youngest, I started at the beginning of this year( PreK) with The Reading Lesson and it does a wonderful job teaching blending with very short lessons. Perfect for squirmies! In retrospect, if I had started in this book with the older one first, he may not have struggled as much. We also use the bob books for the younger one, but he is definately a faster learner that my 1st grader was at this age. I think when he is done with TRL we will go to OPGTR because it goes beyond second grade reading level and is very thorough. I hope this helps you. I've been where you are and does eventually fall into place.

Edited by MyLittleBears
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Reading is not about sight words or even sounding out words but the process of making sense of the written code we use to represent our language. As an adult we read by sight words and by using meaning to construct understanding of what is being said in text...of course a child can't do that...so we use phonics and sight words to help them construct meaning a word, then sentence, then story at a time. When a child discovers the magic of reading is the meaning and joy of understanding a story for them selves that is reading. Phonics is a very valuable skill to help children get to that point...and then from there we use phonics to help when ever an unknown word it used in text.

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At our house it just seemed to magically happen overnight so I'm not much help in terms of analyzing what happened developmentally. One day she was sounding out every word, and the next she wasn't. We're working through OPGTR and we're at around lesson 125 and she started reading more fluently when we were around 110. She was around 5 years and 4 months when it happened. Seriously though, I think each child is going to be unique with this. She still freaks out a bit when confronted with multisyllabic words. I just view it as a lifelong journey that we're all in together. I'm still encountering new words at 34 :001_smile:

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It actually appears as though they aren't sounding out words, but I think they still are, just very rapidly.


If you look at brain scans of good readers vs. dyslexic students, good readers process words on the left side of the brain, the side where sounds, language, and linear things are processed. For dyslexics, they process words on the right side of the brain, the side where wholes and pictures are processed. There are articles showing changes in the brain with fMRI with dyslexic students remediated with phonics, and their processing moves from the right side of the brain to the left, although there is some residual activity on the left side. (The use of nonsense words might help further reduce this residual activity on the left side!)


I have also timed my remedial students in how fast they read lists of words. I have compared words they have read to words of a similar type but different words, and found no difference in time.


(For example, if I work for 10 minutes teaching them cat, hat, map, nip, sit, etc. then test them on how fast they can read a list of words that includes these words, and a list of words that has different CVC words like mit, lap, men, etc. their reading speed is improved in both cases but no faster if the list includes the specific words taught or not.)


My remedial students also initially slow down in their reading speed as I introduce nonsense words, but when I retest them after a few months, their reading speed is improved from when they started and as a bonus they are reading much more accurately!


Here are a few articles about brain changes with dyslexic students, the second has great pictures:






Here is another article, "10 Year of Brain Imaging Research Shows the Brain Reads Sound by Sound,"



Edited by ElizabethB
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