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Is it okay to take a break from phonics instruction?!


Momof3plus
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Hi, My 6.5yr old son has been going through Phonics Pathways for about 6 months and we're about half way through. The thing is, he can decode fine but he's just not fluent, he's still very choppy and can read a simple work on one page and struggle on the next page. It's really beginning to frustrate both of us.

 

Is it okay to break for a month and breathe! Or will this set Ilya back more? He's my first to homeschool.

 

How long do kids usually take to complete such a programme? At the pace we're going at now it will take us another 6 months to complete the book. Which is fine if this is the usual pace but im worried he has issues or maybe it's just a developmental leap thing?!

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Yes, it's perfectly ok to take a break!  Especially if you guys are getting frustrated.  

 

That said...he sounds like he's right on track.  Somewhere around this point, fluency "clicks" for most kids and before you know it, he'll be reading on his own.  

 

Typically, at this midway point (once they've mastered decoding, but are not fluent), I add in Explode the Code.  I find students internalize decoding and words more easily when they have the ETC worksheets to work through.  At first they struggle a bit, but then they pick up and go.  Seems like, actually writing the words down makes a big difference.  

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I am glad you asked this!! I've been wondering the same thing. We're just finishing the Beginner Books of Progressive Phonics and I'd like to take a teaching break for June since we're going to be super busy, but I'm worried about losing progress as well. 

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Thank you so much sweet pea! This is exactly what I needed to hear. I've looked at explode the code and it doesn't it look great. The only problem I have is that we've been using abekas cursive handwriting programme, he's taught himself how to print in manuscript but I'd rather avoid him having to use manuscript as he's done really well with the cursive. Is there any alternative? Would dictating words to him help?

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Thank you so much sweet pea! This is exactly what I needed to hear. I've looked at explode the code and it doesn't it look great. The only problem I have is that we've been using abekas cursive handwriting programme, he's taught himself how to print in manuscript but I'd rather avoid him having to use manuscript as he's done really well with the cursive. Is there any alternative? Would dictating words to him help?

 

I'm using Spelling You See level A and can say that dictating words from the lists has definitely helped things click for my son.

 

I don't see any reason you couldn't just come up with a word list and allow him to do it in cursive on paper and save the cost of buying a book.  I will say in the beginning weeks they have boxes with the middle vowel pre-filled, but it really isn't a necessity if they're good at sounding out. 

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Yes, it's okay to take a break.  :)  We use PP as well.  With my oldest, we stopped midway as well.  He wanted to read books.  So, I let him. 

 

I'm not quite sure that we are done with PP and he's now 8.  I just let him read to me and tell him the rules as we progress.

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Yes, it's okay to take a break.  Another thought would be to take a week off and then switch things up and do some work at a slightly easier level from another program.  Progressive Phonics is free and kind of silly and fun.  You could also look at Teach Your Monster to Read (also free), especially if you and your son are using British English rather than American English.  

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Oh absolutely take a break :) Plus he is right on course. One of my twins just recently got over the sputter reading (my term for it) and is smoothly reading words now. It did just click. For him it was a stack of Dr. Seuss books from the library that made the difference. Go figure :)

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My son and I were at a similar point where the phonics was progressing but the fluency hadn't come yet, we are taking an instruction break this summer and spending a couple minutes a day just reading, so he is still practicing phonics but at a lower level to work on fluency . I'm using the I can read it books that have short stories with lots of repeated words just trying to keep it short and help him feel successful

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Much of Europe doesn't start school until age 7, because so many little boys are not developmentally ready to read until 7 or 8. My oldest was a late reader but 2 years later was reading adult novels.

 

SOME kids read earlier. SOME kids can handle the current fast math scope and sequences. But is NORMAL not to read until 7/8, especially for boys, and it is NORMAL for long division to not click until 6th grade, especially for girls. And normal is not bad; it is the MAJORITY of people.

 

A break sounds perfect. Then review when his brain has rested and GROWN. Have him do lots of running and using both sides of the body, including things like knitting. Waldorf has kids wait to start school until age 7 and spends a year knitting before really teaching reading. 

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Thanks so much everyone. I now feel a bit more at ease.

 

Hunter, I completely agree with you and I would have left him for another 6 months but HE wanted to learn to read!

 

I think we'll definitely take a break from the instruction side of things and just read some easy books.

 

Xxx

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Thanks so much everyone. I now feel a bit more at ease.

 

Hunter, I completely agree with you and I would have left him for another 6 months but HE wanted to learn to read!

 

I think we'll definitely take a break from the instruction side of things and just read some easy books.

 

Xxx

 

Awww, that is SO sweet to see, isn't it? I think you've already done the most important thing, which is helping him fall in love with books! And you're providing him with a vast vocabulary and background knowledge that will serve him well when the phonics instruction finally clicks...instead of taking a break, you could choose to think of it as focusing on different "keys" to learning to read (pleasure, vocabulary, comprehension, none of which need to be formalized).

 

I just wanted to add that for my own children, there is nothing so very effective in creating excitement and motivation surrounding any kind of thing as telling them, "Not yet. You're not old enough. You can do that when you're ___________ years old." Washing the dishes, reading, learning to play the guitar...driving the car! Especially with phonics and reading, instead of leading to tears and frustration-- I should be able to read but I can't-- this leads to triumph. "Mom said I'm not allowed to read yet, but HA! Guess what, Mom? I CAN read. This says _______!"

 

Of course, we play lots of games (I like Peggy Kaye's Games for Reading book) and I do try to (very slowly but surely, and naturally) give them the tools to learn to decode even when we're not working through a formal phonics book or curriculum.

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Give yourself permission to take a break whenever the going gets tough. We take a break from math most every year in January - just need a break. When teaching reading, we take breaks intermittently - everyone needs it. If a subject is going rough or I'm butting heads with my child, I will often say you have to finish whatever has been assigned, but then I step back and reevaluate - is it too hard, what is hard about it, do we just need a break or do we need to change something. 

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Waldorf says some really goofy stuff, but some of their developmental checklist stuff was so unbelievable spot-on for my oldest, that it is almost creepy.

 

In the early 1900's, there was a huge push to chart developmental readiness. So much of what CM, Waldorf, and Montessori are given credit for was just COMPILING current methods and ideas, some COMMON and some a bit rarer, but still not of their own imagination.

 

I have so enjoyed reading teacher manuals from the 1700's through the early 1900's and watching the change in methods and ideas. This big picture makes what is currently fashionable seem like a blip in the larger context. In general, as a whole, I personally believe we did a better job with primary education 100-150 years ago than we do now.

 

When I suffered some brain damage years ago, was when I started reading all the brain development stuff, and the emphasis on using both sides of the body in a rhythm. I think all the walking I have to do did help to heal some of the brain damage. Many of the students I come in contact with have some brain damage from head injuries and overdoses. It is just habit now to included rhythm of some type into the curriculum and daily living suggestions. The brain is an ORGAN, first and foremost. 

 

It has been interesting to watch my own damage and recovery and to go from not having any learning disabilities to now struggling with some. I was talking to my social worker yesterday, that I figure what I have now is all I'm going to get back. The damage interferes with my ability to teach, but it has also made me a better teacher for some students.

 

At this time of year, for those stuck little early readers, I recommend lots of just running around. And LISTENING to others reading. And maybe some of those 2 handing drawing exercises in New Augsburg Drawing book 1, and some knitting.

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What I found with my DS is after the break he came back more confident. I had books out that he could decide and read on his own if he wants during the break. He ended up reading those a lot to himself and became very fluent in his reading and beyond where we had left off. This has happened twice with two different kids. And then they were ready to go again after a few weeks and fluency was much better from there on.

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Yes! My son, who will be 7 this month, had also struggled. He can decide, but struggles with putting words into sentences. He's also choppy, great for a few words, messing up on the next few.

 

We took a four week break (hope to start back next week), and he is reading everything!! Road signs, menus, book titles... He is doing so well, I'm excited to see how he does when we pick up his phonics book. I told my husband I think a break is what he needed!

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My children are little but . . . Sure you can take a break.  We take breaks all the time at our house.

My experience thus far: Toddler learns letter sounds  LONG BREAK  

 

Preschooler learns to read one syllable words, but isn't ready for sentences or for two-syllable words.  LONG BREAK (This is where I am with ds4.)

 

Child suddenly can read a short sentence.  We quickly jump forward in reading ability learning to read sentences & multi-syllable words.  But the child is easily intimidated by stories that are too long, that have too much text on the page, that have too small of text, that use a funny font etc.  So LONG BREAK  Also child reads like a depressed robot.

 

Child suddenly can read normal picture books.  This is where I am stalled with ds7.  He isn't able to track paragraphs in beginning chapter books, but he can read fairly complex picture books in terms of vocabulary & sentence structure.  It all boils down to amount & size of text.  

 

I assume some day my ds7's eyes will magically learn to track small, dense text and the world of literature will open up to him.

 

My advice, yes take a break.  Just have him read a little every day.  You read a ton.  It will all work out.  

 

 

 

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I really appreciate all your replies. I've shown him all the early reader books that I know he can read and left them out for him. He is starting to read things when we're out and about. Just today at the supermarket he said "does that say week?". I read a lot to him anyway so maybe I'll do some shared reading with him of fun books he chooses.

 

I'll post back and let you know how we get on! Xxx

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OP, do you guys read the Bob Books?  They are great for beginning readers.

 

Of course, a break is fine.  Everyone gets into a rut once in a while.  Go for a change.  But I would suggest keep on reading EASY stuff.   Read for pleasure.  And keep reading to the child on your own, so he can just listen and enjoy.  Fill his head with beautiful language in these early years.

 

No two kids are the same.  My DS took about a year to finish our phonics primer, while DD is flying through it.  You'll be fine!

Edited by bluejay
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I took a break in phonics when my son became frustrated. When we started back up, it all just clicked and was easier. Sometimes, a change of pace is all that is needed to clear the mind and get back on track (even in young ones)

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Keep us updated!

 

I really love threads where we talk about topics other than an expensive and bulky and PIA to use piece of curriculum.

Tips on teaching a 5 year old to knit? Or sew? I used to knit! But it was 25 years ago so I need a refresher myself. :) Ds wants to learn how to sew (superheroes need awesome costumes ya know!) and this seems like it might be a step towards that! (And he'd be a toasty warm superhero. :) )

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What I found with my DS is after the break he came back more confident. I had books out that he could decide and read on his own if he wants during the break. He ended up reading those a lot to himself and became very fluent in his reading and beyond where we had left off. This has happened twice with two different kids. And then they were ready to go again after a few weeks and fluency was much better from there on.

This is what I found as well. My dd always made gains after a break

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I would take a break from phonics instruction, but not reading practice.

Spend a month doing daily reading from books that are "too easy" for him. 

 

Let him write, blend and read the easiest of words. 

 

I've had the best luck downloading readers from around the internet, rather than relying on the "easy readers" at the library.

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Tips on teaching a 5 year old to knit? Or sew? I used to knit! But it was 25 years ago so I need a refresher myself. :) Ds wants to learn how to sew (superheroes need awesome costumes ya know!) and this seems like it might be a step towards that! (And he'd be a toasty warm superhero. :) )

 

I'd start a new thread for this question. I think it will make a great thread!

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