Jump to content

Menu

Psychology Today: Reading Wars


Recommended Posts

I stumbled upon this article that discusses the reading war between whole language and phonics and progressive teaching in the classroom setting.

 

I found the part on precocious and early reading to be intriguing. It defines precocious readers as being about 1% of children who are reading fluently at age 4. He describes them as learning to read based on an intense interest in reading. He states they appear to learn to read by a sight/whole language approach. He goes on to say about 5% of kids start kindergarten reading fluently.

 

It got me thinking, do any early readers learn to read on their own fluently based on phonics? DD started sounding out phonetic CVC words before 4, but I doubt she could have progressed much past that without instruction. It made me wonder if kids do naturally learn phonics and teach themselves to read fluently this way. Or is phonics require dedicated instruction to learn? It seems that it would.

 

Here's the article: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201311/the-reading-wars-why-natural-learning-fails-in-classrooms

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well clearly I have spent far too much time on this board, because I would have guessed that at least 1/3 of kids can read by age 4!

I haven't read a lot about precocious readers, but I do know that some of them more or less figure out phonics on their own. 
I was surprised to read the statement that precocity isn't correlated with social class. IME people of low SES tend to not to value or engage in non essential reading, and it's not unusual to see homes where the DVDs outnumber the books.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well clearly I have spent far too much time on this board, because I would have guessed that at least 1/3 of kids can read by age 4!

 

I haven't read a lot about precocious readers, but I do know that some of them more or less figure out phonics on their own.

I was surprised to read the statement that precocity isn't correlated with social class. IME people of low SES tend to not to value or engage in non essential reading, and it's not unusual to see homes where the DVDs outnumber the books.

I was surprised by that as well and surprised that it isn't a direct correlation with IQ. although, I was from a low SES single mother household and I was a precocious reader. Reading fluently in PreK. But my mother loved books and was always reading and books meant a tremendous amount to me as a child in a difficult home. Books were my lifeline as a child.

 

DD is an early reader but not precocious.She picked up the letter sounds and then connected those to words. No instinctive sight reading. and I would have guessed the reading rate to be higher as well. But maybe it's judging by fluency. While dd can read, she's not extremely fluent yet.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have HG+ kids and while both of them started school at 5 knowing some {25 to 30] words and progressed fairly quickly neither of them could have been said to read before starting school.  In the US where some a lot of the kids are older when they start school I guess there would be more but I think I only know one to two children who really read before 5 and the earliest was still older then 4.

 

I guess if pre schools here taught academics or I had pushed they would have learnt earlier but not by themself.

 

 

Edited by kiwik
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was an early reader, and yes, I was a sight reader. And yes, that hindered me some later in life although rather than get frustrated by words I couldn't sound out I just skipped over them. One of the reasons I was sure Trixie Belden's oldest brother was named Brain, and not Brian. Oops. Hey, he was really smart, so Brain made sense!

 

None of my children are early/precocious readers. Oldest was a late reader, which we later found out probably has to do with low working memory. Middle is right "on time" with sounding out CVC sometime after turning 5. She'll be 6 in a month and is able to sound out words like "lost" "chin" etc. Lesson 22 of AAR1. But still very much in the sound out each sound slowly phase. 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had an early reader, but not a precocious one.  He started right before age 4, burned through 100EZ lessons, and was reading fluently (standard texts, not easy readers) by 5 months in.  We actually had a plan with him that we called the Stitch Project. It was a way to sequentially develop skills over the years as a means to break down text logically when he was ready.  We did the same thing with math and writing, too, and have had very similar results of jumping through steps quickly after the standard materials were put in his hands.

 

I think the author of the article focused too much on extremes and not on the middle grounds.  What about interest-led, teacher guided reading methods, like in a Montessori classroom?  What about children who slowly figured out the rules and applied them, but did so quietly so their parents thought their reading was sight method? 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Learning via phonics does imply some level of direct instruction. Very few people are willing to sit down and formally teach their two or three year old child phonics, or at least, not more than "b says b-b-b like in b-b-ball". And even if they did, not many kids are willing to go along with this at those ages, not for long bouts of time.

 

So yes, it makes sense to me that most children who are really reading at two, three, and even four years old are self-taught, and that therefore they didn't make much use of phonics when learning. (And then those kids grow up and just don't get why we're forcing kids to sit through all that tedious busywork they had to sit through because their stupid classmates couldn't do something really simple. I wonder sometimes if this is where a good deal of animosity for phonics instruction comes from in the education world, early readers who were super bored in the classroom.)

 

However, with regards to the article, I don't think the solution is to let every kid use this method on their own timetable.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I learned to read before Kindergarten but I think I learned via phonics.  My older sister and I loved playing school and we had some old readers around.  We had a whole 'classroom' set up with a big chalk board and everything.  She taught me phonics!  She was 9 at the time and this was her favorite game!  So I did learn early as a result.  But I think if I hadn't been developmentally ready to read, it wouldn't have happened.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Learning via phonics does imply some level of direct instruction. Very few people are willing to sit down and formally teach their two or three year old child phonics, or at least, not more than "b says b-b-b like in b-b-ball". And even if they did, not many kids are willing to go along with this at those ages, not for long bouts of time.

 

So yes, it makes sense to me that most children who are really reading at two, three, and even four years old are self-taught, and that therefore they didn't make much use of phonics when learning. (And then those kids grow up and just don't get why we're forcing kids to sit through all that tedious busywork they had to sit through because their stupid classmates couldn't do something really simple. I wonder sometimes if this is where a good deal of animosity for phonics instruction comes from in the education world, early readers who were super bored in the classroom.)

 

However, with regards to the article, I don't think the solution is to let every kid use this method on their own timetable.

 

See, and I feel the opposite, pretty much based on my little anecdote of one. ;)  Yes, I know that's entirely unscientific, but...

 

I was reading at 3, quite fluently before 5.  I'm pretty sure mom went over the sounds and shapes of the letters on blocks, but there was no formal instruction or workbooks.  I just started reading.  And I have no memory of memorizing words - the whole thing is just bizarre to me.  Why would you memorize the shape of words, when it's so easy to just sound them out???  I'm pretty sure I just figured out how to blend, and went from there, and just figured out the other sounds of the letters based on patterns.  It's the same way I reverse-engingeered most Latin/Greek roots. You know what the words mean, and figure out what the common root must mean. I'm also good with figuring out spelling rules based on pattern and etymology - and no one taught me that, either. It's the way my brain works.  Maybe I'm super-special and different from everyone else?  But I just can't wrap my head around not just some but virtually all early readers just flat-out memorizing based on shape?  It's so ... unnecessary and inefficient.  And I just don't think I'm that special.  If I could do it, I'm sure other kids do too...

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My DD was a precocious reader (was considered hyperlexic), and I'd say it was a mix. Most of her reading probably was by sight (many of her favorite books were ones she had memorized, and a lot were ones with single words and pictures), and it was those words she started picking out and putting together before age 2), but the leapfrog fridge phonics and talking word factory toys definitely helped move her to building words and decoding as well, as did Starfall, and she has read every single Dear Dragon book our library had. At age 2 1/2, she was assessed by a local school that used explicit phonics, and she was reading on a 5th grade level and was able to decode nonsense words/syllables correctly to the max of the test. So obviously, she was using phonics as well. By K age, she was reading at a post high school level with excellent comprehension.

 

In her case, she is also identified as gifted.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My youngest started reading fluently at 4.  I honestly never did figure out whether she learned more via phonics or more via sight words or what.  All I know is that it seemed to happen really fast.  She had been exposed to letters and sounds, but didn't go through a stage of slowly "sounding out."  She would use initial letters to help guess a new word, or so it seemed - but there were times when I would have expected her to guess the wrong word and she'd guess the right one.  Example:  coach / carriage in a princess story.  She never guessed the wrong word.  So maybe she really knew those words, but how?  Some of them had pretty advanced phonetic structures.

 

She didn't go through a phonics program until she went to school, which was way after it would have made any difference to her.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I taught my kid sister to read when she was 4.  I used phonics readers initially, then added sight words later.  I am not sure whether she would be considered a "precocious reader" since she didn't teach herself.  She did learn very readily.  Just had a really good recall of what she'd seen and heard.  I am not sure I'd say she was "fluent"; it depends on how you define fluent.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I do have one other anecdote of a young child reading phonetically.  My mom taught ESL kindergarten.  She had a kid in her class one year from Russia.  She had learned to read in Russia before she left (so, around 3?) - in the Cyrillic alphabet, of course  Her family had spent a year in Italy before coming to the US, and she had puzzled out the Latin alphabet as it applied to Italian.  When she came to my mother's classroom, she was able to sound out English words based on what she knew of Italian phonics, even though she spoke no English and had no idea what she was reading.  My mother figured this out while she was reading picture books to the class as they sat on the floor, and this girl crawled up to the book she was holding up and started reading ahead of her.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Precocious readers aside, there are always going to be kids who launch into reading faster with sight words, and some who launch faster with phonics.  My eldest was such a slow decoder that sight words were more effective for her.  Despite all the warnings, she developed into a pretty good reader - not wow, but very solid.

 

I've read that kids with dyslexia really need a phonics approach.  Not sure if that is always the case though.

 

I think both "methods" should be introduced together and whatever takes, takes.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think both "methods" should be introduced together and whatever takes, takes.

 

I disagree. I think when it comes to reading instruction, teaching "both methods" is bound to cause confusion.

 

But I just can't wrap my head around not just some but virtually all early readers just flat-out memorizing based on shape?  It's so ... unnecessary and inefficient.  And I just don't think I'm that special.  If I could do it, I'm sure other kids do too...

 

Oh, no, I think I was unclear. I'm sure many precocious readers are reverse engineering phonics, as you put it. But they're not learning via phonics, if that makes sense. They memorize a group of words based on shape and frequency - sheesh, I'm pretty sure we can teach pigeons to do that! - and then from there they realize that "if bad means 'bad' and big means 'big' and ball means 'ball', I bet b makes the sound b!" and then they apply that to more words.

 

But they're not learning via phonics, exactly. They're applying phonics after the fact, and then using it to kickstart a little more learning.

 

She would use initial letters to help guess a new word, or so it seemed - but there were times when I would have expected her to guess the wrong word and she'd guess the right one.  Example:  coach / carriage in a princess story.  She never guessed the wrong word.  So maybe she really knew those words, but how?  Some of them had pretty advanced phonetic structures.

 

My younger kiddo, who is dyslexic, did that when she was learning to read. It was remarkable. I actually remarked on it, before I realized that she really couldn't write and needed help. She couldn't read a sentence like "the cat sat on the mat" without a lot of help, but if you wrote "the elephant strolled down the avenue" she would be word perfect. I'm not actually sure how she did it, and I have a sneaking suspicion that she still does it sometimes, which is why her reading ability vastly outstrips her writing ability. She has VERY good coping skills. (This is also why it was hard to get her help in school. She does read very well - fluently, and with a lot of expression. If you're not paying very close attention you won't hear how she mumbles every word she can't immediately recognize or guess from context. Her inability to spell is harder to explain away, but boy, did the schools ever try. Not the teachers, who knew what they were looking at, but the people holding the hoops you need to jump through to get extra help in that area.)

Edited by Tanaqui
  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I disagree. I think when it comes to reading instruction, teaching "both methods" is bound to cause confusion.

 

Not really.  You introduce mostly phonetically-spelled words, do the phonics, then use the words repeatedly in a story.  Some of the kids remember the repeated words by sight, others keep sounding them out as long as they need to.

 

Eventually don't we all read by sight?  When you read a novel, you don't sound out the words, do you?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

DS was a precocious reader as well, he was sight reading by 2 and reading fluently & phonetically by 3.  I taught him the phonics because I had taken a Montessori class that touted the virtues of phonetic over sight reading.  I think he picked up some of it on his own, but I definitely helped him crack the code.

Edited by Runningmom80
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not really.  You introduce mostly phonetically-spelled words, do the phonics, then use the words repeatedly in a story.  Some of the kids remember the repeated words by sight, others keep sounding them out as long as they need to.

 

Eventually don't we all read by sight?  When you read a novel, you don't sound out the words, do you?

 

I think someone recently shared an article on this board that said adults do read phonetically, just very quickly.  I didn't read the whole article, so I can't comment further.  It was within the past couple of weeks.

 

I think a combo of both types of teaching is needed,memorizing high frequency words really helped my twins!

Edited by Runningmom80
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not really.  You introduce mostly phonetically-spelled words, do the phonics, then use the words repeatedly in a story.  Some of the kids remember the repeated words by sight, others keep sounding them out as long as they need to.

 

Ah, that is not what I thought you meant. I completely misunderstood what you were getting at here!

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not really. You introduce mostly phonetically-spelled words, do the phonics, then use the words repeatedly in a story. Some of the kids remember the repeated words by sight, others keep sounding them out as long as they need to.

 

Eventually don't we all read by sight? When you read a novel, you don't sound out the words, do you?

Wouldn't this still be phonics? I agree that we shouldn't through out either method. As you said, some kids learn much better by sight. My DD seems to be a rule follower and for that reason phonics works well.

 

I saw the same article about adults reading phonetically, just decoding fairly. So perhaps the child taught phonics who reads fluently right away, is actually decoding quickly? Isn't that just gaining fluency? That's what I count as fluency as well. And when someone tells me that their child is "reading", I take it to mean they are reading fluently. While DD Can read many words, it's still slow and not fluent. I don't know if I'd say she was reading due to This.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree that the author is focusing on extremes.  She implies that kids taught via sight words will generally not be able to read story books for years.  I do not believe the statistics support that.  Most kids can learn fairly quickly via either method.  That is, within a year or two they will be able to read most kiddy materials.  There will always be some kids who are slower than that and some who are faster, regardless of method.  Even in the same family.

 

Another point.  It may depend on where the kid's pre-reading strengths are.  My slower reader had pretty significant vision problems, and was slow to recognize printed letters.  But her comprehension skills were above average.  She did well with well-illustrated, controlled-vocabulary stories such as those by Margaret Hillert.  These books helped her to remember the words and grow her vocabulary despite the fact that she had to see a word many times to remember it.  It was much more motivating for her to read the stories, using comprehension skills, than to plod through "sounding out" non-engaging text / drills.  And as the blog author notes, motivation is probably the biggest factor in early reading progress.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you are talking about reading a passage or page from any book without knowing what the words mean, my kids did that just by playing with the leapfrog caterpillar and the leappad very early. They intuitively blend from knowing the sounds for the letters of the alphabet.

 

They both hate the phonics readers so they went from reading billboards to reading close captions on news to story books and poetry. Our local public schools have ability grouping for reading so it wasn't an issue at school for them.

 

My boys started german at 5 and 6 years old. They could read without understanding and even spell correctly after the first few lessons on german pronunciation. Their german spelling was better than their english spelling.

 

My oldest is a natural speller while my youngest needed a little direct instruction but much less than the spelling curriculum the public school used.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I stumbled upon this article that discusses the reading war between whole language and phonics and progressive teaching in the classroom setting.

 

I found the part on precocious and early reading to be intriguing. It defines precocious readers as being about 1% of children who are reading fluently at age 4. He describes them as learning to read based on an intense interest in reading. He states they appear to learn to read by a sight/whole language approach. He goes on to say about 5% of kids start kindergarten reading fluently.

 

It got me thinking, do any early readers learn to read on their own fluently based on phonics? DD started sounding out phonetic CVC words before 4, but I doubt she could have progressed much past that without instruction. It made me wonder if kids do naturally learn phonics and teach themselves to read fluently this way. Or is phonics require dedicated instruction to learn? It seems that it would.

 

Here's the article: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201311/the-reading-wars-why-natural-learning-fails-in-classrooms

 

Actually it says five percent are reading fluently by first grade, not by Kindergarten.

 

I didn't learn to read with phonics. I taught myself at four (no idea how, things are pretty fuzzy that far back, lol). I had to go through phonics in school, but I was reading fluently before then and so was pretty bored through the years of phonics instruction. 

 

Dd was reading fluently by four to five. I don't know when the exact instant of fluency occurred so I can't tell you which fancy label she gets. ;)  I taught her letter sounds and how to blend CVC words periodically from three to four because she asked, but then when we got to silent e words she didn't want to do any more so we stopped. Then, a few weeks later, she just sort of started reading everything in the house. Her fluency improved pretty rapidly without any further teaching on my part, and by five she could read just about anything I put in front of her. She can spell anything, too. Her spelling instruction is pretty much just me giving her a list of spelling words to write down each Monday and then sorting out any homophones she might have mixed up.

 

I don't think she uses sight words exactly, because while she can't recite all the phonics rules, she can tell me which sounds different digraphs make, break words down into sounds, sound out completely new words, etc. Like someone else said, she uses phonics but figured it out on her own.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Definitely depends primarily on the kid but also the environment and the instruction method IMHO.  Kids are different.  They have different strengths and weaknesses, different interests, etc. even within the same family.

 

And IQ may help in many instances but it is NOT an indicator of definitely able to read early or definitely not able to read early.  There are a lot of gifted dyslexics that did not learn to read early.  

 

I think people in the education industry (and the media) frequently keep looking for magic bullets or a specific method that is the be all and end all of reading instruction for all kids, but frequently fail to realize that we are not tires manufactured in a tire factory.  Some kids will need more of one type of instruction or exposure and others will do better with a different balance.  Trying a cookie cutter one size fits all approach for teaching all kids how to read seems to miss out on the crucial fact that we are individuals and human beings, not robots you can program.

Edited by OneStepAtATime
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My oldest was a precocious reader - taught himself before age 4.  Other than discussing the sounds that letters make, we really didn't do reading instruction... just read to him a lot.  But he surprised us by knowing how to read.  My friend (who was a reading instruction specialist in her former life) has a daughter who learned the same way.  We called it "reading by magic."   We just don't know what clicked and why. If you asked my son how he knew what that word was, he would say "I just know."  We had to go back and teach phonics in a formal way to help with spelling. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was a precocious reader, and it has hindered me since I never learned phonics.   They taught a little phonics at my early elementary but only to kids who couldn't read.   If I've heard the word before but never seen it, I've absorbed enough phonics to match it up and come out with the right word.   But, brand-new words?   My pronunciation makes people laugh.  I have been banned from reading Jungle Book because DH can't stop laughing at me.   I was really into myths as a kid, but I can't discuss it because my pronunciation of the gods makes me look like an idiot.  

I am extremely anti-sight words. 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

See, and I feel the opposite, pretty much based on my little anecdote of one. ;) Yes, I know that's entirely unscientific, but...

 

I was reading at 3, quite fluently before 5. I'm pretty sure mom went over the sounds and shapes of the letters on blocks, but there was no formal instruction or workbooks. I just started reading. And I have no memory of memorizing words - the whole thing is just bizarre to me. Why would you memorize the shape of words, when it's so easy to just sound them out??? I'm pretty sure I just figured out how to blend, and went from there, and just figured out the other sounds of the letters based on patterns. It's the same way I reverse-engingeered most Latin/Greek roots. You know what the words mean, and figure out what the common root must mean. I'm also good with figuring out spelling rules based on pattern and etymology - and no one taught me that, either. It's the way my brain works. Maybe I'm super-special and different from everyone else? But I just can't wrap my head around not just some but virtually all early readers just flat-out memorizing based on shape? It's so ... unnecessary and inefficient. And I just don't think I'm that special. If I could do it, I'm sure other kids do too...

I agree. Phonics makes sense to me. DD started blending phonics sounds first as well. She just seems to understand that the letters "HOT" each blended together on the bottom of a rubber duck to spell "hot". She sounded it out fairly easily and has progressed from there.

 

I can't remember learning how to read. I just remember being able to while still in preschool.

 

My semi-related question is when would you consider a child to be reading? DD can sound out simple phonics words (CVC/C), but I don't know if I'd consider her "reading". Maybe in my mind, a child is considered reading when it's more fluent. But I'm probably wrong! I was also not the parent to consider my child walking until they were using that as their primary means of mobility.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I learned to read before Kindergarten but I think I learned via phonics.  My older sister and I loved playing school and we had some old readers around.  We had a whole 'classroom' set up with a big chalk board and everything.  She taught me phonics!  She was 9 at the time and this was her favorite game!  So I did learn early as a result.  But I think if I hadn't been developmentally ready to read, it wouldn't have happened.  

 

That is how my husband learned to read, and my personal opinion is that this is the ideal method.   DH's sister had infinite patience because she really couldn't care less if he learned to read.  It was about playing school.  It started when he was a baby and she'd prop towels around him because he couldn't sit upright yet.  He was still a better student then her dolls.  

 

The only problem came later.   DH's sister is lazy, and she had DH read out-loud her assigned reading.  There is a large age gap so he was reading high school assigned reading in first grade.  He still hates to read out loud.  He is an excellent reader though.  

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I learned to read before Kindergarten but I think I learned via phonics.  My older sister and I loved playing school and we had some old readers around.  We had a whole 'classroom' set up with a big chalk board and everything.  She taught me phonics!  She was 9 at the time and this was her favorite game!  So I did learn early as a result.  But I think if I hadn't been developmentally ready to read, it wouldn't have happened.  

 

You're in good company! That's how Marie Curie learned to read as well! Her sister was having a tough time with reading, and so decided to make the unpleasant chore of practicing her reading a little more fun by "teaching the baby".

 

And that's probably the only way early readers get dedicated instruction in phonics. Adults don't usually have the patience.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm pretty sure I just figured out how to blend, and went from there, and just figured out the other sounds of the letters based on patterns. It's the same way I reverse-engingeered most Latin/Greek roots. You know what the words mean, and figure out what the common root must mean. I'm also good with figuring out spelling rules based on pattern and etymology - and no one taught me that, either. It's the way my brain works. Maybe I'm super-special and different from everyone else? ...

I do wonder if that's how some phonics based readers would naturally learn? Although I think intuitively knowing phonics rules is not the norm. I don't see how my dd could intuitively know more complex r rules than blending. Even though she learned to blend on her own, I couldn't see her figuring out more complex dipgraphs and such.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I do wonder if that's how some phonics based readers would naturally learn? Although I think intuitively knowing phonics rules is not the norm. I don't see how my dd could intuitively know more complex r rules than blending. Even though she learned to blend on her own, I couldn't see her figuring out more complex dipgraphs and such.

Really, it's not that hard. Phonics programs make it so super-complicated. It's not, not even in English. I was so thrilled to come across Reading Reflex / Phonographix when teaching my own kids, because that makes perfect sense to me. No rules to memorize, 'silent' letters, or learning arbitrary blends like they're some special case. Just learn the sounds and blend. Yes, sometimes sounds can be represented by more than one letter, but that's really not that hard, is it?

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Really, it's not that hard. Phonics programs make it so super-complicated. It's not, not even in English. I was so thrilled to come across Reading Reflex / Phonographix when teaching my own kids, because that makes perfect sense to me. No rules to memorize, 'silent' letters, or learning arbitrary blends like they're some special case. Just learn the sounds and blend. Yes, sometimes sounds can be represented by more than one letter, but that's really not that hard, is it?

That sounds like what I do with Ordinary Parents Guide. I don't necessarily teach the "rule" so much as teach the application of it. We don't drill rules or exceptions, we just read them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was an early reader, reading fluently when I started K just weeks after my 5th birthday.  I may have done some sight reading but I was in a montessori preschool and remember using some sort of phonics based reader set.  Oldest DD is a sight reader despite my teaching her using phonics programs it is just so easy for her to memorize words.   She knows the sounds but she only uses them when its really a new word that she can't figure out from context.  She drives me batty.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I truly do not know the difference between these methods, and I haven't made it my business to learn because ds learned in school and dd goes to Montessori school and they are instructing there. I don't fully understand the benefits of early reading instruction since I did not go to school or learn to read until 6 and managed fine

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

In general, I think that learning skills is sometimes a slog and sometimes easy.

 

Personally I learned to read pretty easily.  But I was WILD to do it.  I remember looking at print over and over, hoping that I would recognize an unfamiliar word this next time, before I knew how to read much at all.  I loved stories and being read to.  Once I learned to read, I don't think I really looked hard at anything but books for years.  

 

But learning lengthy methods in arithmetic, and math facts, was really a slog for me, mostly because I was bored by the facts and didn't like physically writing, so long division or multiplication of many-digit numbers was very tedious to me.  

 

The trouble is, it's impossible to know what is going to be a slog for whom, so we have to have a multiplicity of tools in our toolbelts to teach kids for whom it is a slog while simultaneously engaging kids for whom it is easy.  I think that in many respects old school teachers who were trained to teach in multigrade classrooms were better at this than most modern teachers.  Since oldtimers always had some students being actively taught and others quietly occupied, they were far better equipped to also handle kids of the same age who were at different grade levels of learning.  That is a skill that we need to return to.  I enjoy reading teaching manuals for one room schoolhouses because they are full of stuff like this.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I learned to read early (I don't think I was quite a precocious reader, but it was early enough that I don't remember not being able to read, or the learning process), and nonetheless received phonics instruction in early elementary school, which I'm sure was helpful in progressing my reading fluency and certainly my ability to actually SAY new words I came across in reading.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

By that definition, I was a precocious reader.

 

I think a lot of kids do learn by memorizing the words and then slowly learning to apply phonetic meaning to them. I know that's what I did. I mean, by the time you've memorized cat, sat, bat, fat, hat, mat, and rat then you've found a pattern and can apply it to pat and even words you might not know like vat or nonsense words like gat. That's a super simple example, but I can say with some confidence that's what I did in preschool and kindy and by first grade I was reading longer books. In kindy they held me back and wouldn't let me read the longer books. I remember in part because I was mad about it.

 

I really like Peter Gray but I think his conclusion that kids just will learn to read out of school eventually by using whole word approaches is just nonsense.

 

However, I do think some elements of whole language (not whole word) can be used alongside phonics in the classroom. A lot of the philosophy behind whole language thinking is to not punish kids for trying to memorize on their own and to let them encounter books and do their own imagined writing however they wish and to encourage that sort of playful, you're really in charge, you can do this, reading is natural approach to learning to read. There's no reason that can't sit side by side in a *good* classroom with doing actual phonics work.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't remember not knowing how to read.

 

My parents actively tried to discourage me, because they thought it would make me too different from the other children and I would have trouble in school.

 

They were right, but they weren't the kind of people who could have homeschooled in the early '70s. They did enroll me in a correspondence school as a teenager, but that's another story for another thread.

 

My mom says she used Give Your Child a Superior Mind, which was written by the author of 100 EZ lessons, to afterschool my older sister. I remember handmade phonics flash cards made with pencil and index cards and there was simply no way she could keep me from butting in while she tutored Sis.

 

I was not an easy child and she had a lot of other problems. She finally figured out that the only way to keep me occupied while she tended to her other responsibilities was to let me play with her typewriter.

 

I completely pulled the wool over Sis's eyes when she said she was too old for imaginative play with stuffed animals by telling her that we should be "famous writers" when we grew up. Within an hour, we had picked up the same game we had been playing with our toys only we used pencils and binder paper instead of stuffed animals.

 

None of my children were hyperlexic and I'm glad, but I do have fond memories of the books that were my best friends during my odd childhood and I read them aloud.

Edited by Guest
Link to comment
Share on other sites

<snip>  but I do have fond memories of the books that were my best friends during my odd childhood and I read them aloud.

Books were my best friends, too.  I was bullied at school and there was tension in the home, so I would escape into books.  That was the best gift my 4th grade teacher gave me.  She read to us every day and I grew to love books!  I still take a "reading vacation" when I've been dealing with some really tough stuff. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Books were my best friends, too. I was bullied at school and there was tension in the home, so I would escape into books. That was the best gift my 4th grade teacher gave me. She read to us every day and I grew to love books! I still take a "reading vacation" when I've been dealing with some really tough stuff.

That's how books were and are for me. They were my escape from a tough childhood. I too still find the most solace in stories that take me away from daily stressors

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great article! S taught himself to read at 3. At some point, I showed him briefly how to blend (like in 5 minutes with a Sandra Boynton book), but he got the rest. Interestingly, he actually had quite limited oral language at the time, and some pretty significant deficits in receptive language (he has autism). I think he developed much of his receptive language through reading (not sure how that worked). But, he also developed much of his more complex oral language after he learned to write well, and for about six months he could write much better than he could speak. He was really interested in letters and words at 2 and 3-he had a thing about cars at the time, and he eventually figured out that dh and I knew what the cars were by reading the letters on the back. He actually lost interest in reading in school around Grade 2 after he stopped progressing through the readers (he couldn't do the reading comprehension questions though he could decode everything). Anyway, he obviously is not the typical precocious reader, but I assume he must at least have some phonetic comprehension since he really didn't have a ton of language. We did read to him all the time. However, he spells by sight (almost perfectly) and he typically won't sound out new words (though lately he seems to be able to, because he never asks for help.) 

 

I do know a family of precocious readers who have definitely been taught phonics (I watched their mom start before they were two) and they also went to Montessori at 3. Now, they are precocious at everything, and while everything has been taught as far as I can tell, they certainly learn much faster and more easily than most kids their ages. Their mom also spends a ton of time on early learning activities. They are very quick, attentive, and well coordinated, and I expect all have pretty high IQs. But most very early readers I know (like my sister and my husband) were like the author describes-interested and self-taught. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not really.  You introduce mostly phonetically-spelled words, do the phonics, then use the words repeatedly in a story.  Some of the kids remember the repeated words by sight, others keep sounding them out as long as they need to.

 

Eventually don't we all read by sight?  When you read a novel, you don't sound out the words, do you?

 

 

I think someone recently shared an article on this board that said adults do read phonetically, just very quickly.  I didn't read the whole article, so I can't comment further.  It was within the past couple of weeks.

 

I think a combo of both types of teaching is needed,memorizing high frequency words really helped my twins!

 

Yes, there is recent brain research that we are reading all the letters/letter teams really fast, with our brain working in parallel.  Here is the post where we discussed that, with links to the research.

 

http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/579026-brain-research-shows-adults-read-words-by-sound-not-sight-just-really-fast/?hl=%2Bbrain+%2Bresearch&do=findComment&comment=6733031

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was a precocious reader, and it has hindered me since I never learned phonics.   They taught a little phonics at my early elementary but only to kids who couldn't read.   If I've heard the word before but never seen it, I've absorbed enough phonics to match it up and come out with the right word.   But, brand-new words?   My pronunciation makes people laugh.  I have been banned from reading Jungle Book because DH can't stop laughing at me.   I was really into myths as a kid, but I can't discuss it because my pronunciation of the gods makes me look like an idiot.  

I am extremely anti-sight words. 

 

Watch my spelling lessons, and if you need more repetition, my phonics lessons.  Learning with the nonsense words should help you.  The spelling lessons take 2 hours to go through and teach all the phonics in the 10 hours worth of phonics lessons, just very fast.

 

http://www.thephonicspage.org/On%20Spelling/spellinglessonsl.html

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Older is dyslexic and younger is a natural reader IMO.   No way older would ever learn to read by whole language.  And yet I can completely see, watching younger, how people came up with the idea of whole language -- but really as the article states younger didn't learn by any whole language 'methods'.  She just 'grokked' reading.

 

BUT to address a main point in the article, older also grew up in the same literate home (lots of books, lots of reading out loud, lots of seeing parents read) -- and she was extremely interested in reading.  But it never helped her read.  That took a lot of that systematic teaching the author dismisses (which I did not start early because I thought it was just taking a little longer than normal :glare: ).

 

My personal thought is that 'whole language methods' just mimic what it looks to watch a natural reader instead of actually mimicking what is happening inside their brain that is allowing them to grasp reading.   And saying, well, just let them do it when comes naturally as the author says, is making the same mistake. 

 

It's kinda like when a random teacher complemented me on the way I interacted with younger when she was very little -- as if it were me that was saying 'all the right things" when I knew that it was younger that made me sound like a great parent.  I knew that because no one would have ever complemented my interactions with older - yet I certainly worked hard to talk a lot to older as 'you're supposed to' -- but that was actually work, it never flowed like it did with younger.

Edited by LaughingCat
  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My siblings and I were all reading by K and we were taught by our grandmother who was a teacher. It was phonics based. My youngest was reading at three but she had a front row seat to us teaching her older sister. She just picked it up easily and quick. She needed a bit of help with long vowels but she is one who picks things up after being told after one time. It was still phonics based. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...