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Kjirstyn2023

Guessing words from pictures

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My almost 5yo is starting to sound out words, but he is really bad about looking at the pictures and trying to use those as clues. I don't think it's conscious avoidance of the work involved, because he'll sound them out just fine if I write them out plainly on a whiteboard or whatever, but just that he gets distracted by the pictures, and without even trying he'll see the letters he's working on and jump to a conclusion about what word it is. Bob readers in particular, because the pictures are so obviously relevant to the words on the page.

I don't mind doing a lot of sounding out via my writing out black and white words on a plain surface, but how does one combat this? Knowing him, this will be a problem even if I carefully look for other books that aren't quite as self explanatory in the pictures (which I will be doing). Any ideas? I do cover the words as he sounds them out one letter at a time, but he'll sound out "M-A-T...Mat sat!" just because the picture already illustrates the rest of the sentence that he hasn't even seen yet. 

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We did 100 Easy Lessons, which had very few pictures, and also instructed you to cover up the pictures until all the sounding out was done. It worked well :-).

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Looking through  the book first and looking at the pictures are actually an early reading strategy. Teachers call it "getting your knowledge ready."  

It amongst other things, helps the child gain confidence in their ability to read. 

 

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1 minute ago, Melissa in Australia said:

Looking through  the book first and looking at the pictures are actually an early reading strategy. Teachers call it "getting your knowledge ready."  

It amongst other things, helps the child gain confidence in their ability to read. 

 

I may be wrong, but I think phonics approaches try to discourage guessing from pictures. At least the one we used did.

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27 minutes ago, Melissa in Australia said:

Looking through  the book first and looking at the pictures are actually an early reading strategy. Teachers call it "getting your knowledge ready."  

It amongst other things, helps the child gain confidence in their ability to read. 

 

Good phonics methods do not rely on visual clues such as pictures. In fact, I would always recommend those which do not.

Signt-reading methods, however, which is what most public schools use, definitely encourage guessing from context. It is one of the many reasons that sight-reading has been such a failure over the last 60 years.

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1 hour ago, Melissa in Australia said:

I wasn't saying rely on pictures, but rather it is another aid in the very early stages of reading. 

I can only speak for myself, but generally I tried pretty hard to avoid this happening when teaching reading, even very early on. And I also think it goes with sight reading more than with phonics instruction.

Edited by square_25
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Okay, thanks! I am definitely wanting to avoid any temptation to use pictures as tools for guessing the words, which is why I asked.  Sounds like I just need to put readers away even if he is interested in them, until he gets a little further along! (We're using OPGTR, so will be easy to do if we ditch readers for now.)

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I agree that looking at the pictures is part of reading for meaning.  In addition to building confidence and experience, IMO it teaches kids to demand meaning in what they read.  Depending on individual strengths and weaknesses, it can make the difference between finding reading worthwhile or just a slog.

That said, I agree that some time spent working with phonics without pictures is worthwhile.  But that is not to say reading with pictures is not also worthwhile for different reasons.

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He's young and this is very normal for his age. I would probably use a blank index card or paper to cover the picture until he reads the words. Then show the picture as his reward. Sounding out words definitely takes lots of work. Hang in there, he'll get there!

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3 hours ago, Melissa in Australia said:

I wasn't saying rely on pictures, but rather it is another aid in the very early stages of reading. 


It's not an aid, it's a crutch and a habit that is hard to break.  It's one of the tools used by public schools in order to have something to show for their efforts; even if a kid isn't really reading it looks like he is and the school looks successful.   In reality, it's about as useful as a shovel while cooking. 

To the OP, we do a lot of reading without pictures in the beginning.  If I have to, I'll type it up myself from the book or text I want him to read.  Only after a child is reading pretty decently do I add in library books or easy readers for them to browse through.

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26 minutes ago, HomeAgain said:


To the OP, we do a lot of reading without pictures in the beginning.  If I have to, I'll type it up myself from the book or text I want him to read.  Only after a child is reading pretty decently do I add in library books or easy readers for them to browse through.

Great, I'll think more along these lines! I guess I was thinking if he's ASKING to read a book, then it's not a great idea to hold him to boring 'ole text and cause his interest to wane, but I think I'm worrying more than I need to about that.

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1 hour ago, Kjirstyn2023 said:

Great, I'll think more along these lines! I guess I was thinking if he's ASKING to read a book, then it's not a great idea to hold him to boring 'ole text and cause his interest to wane, but I think I'm worrying more than I need to about that.

It may help you to consider reading lessons as a separate thing than reading for pleasure. There is room for both! Both are important. During reading lessons, you can cover pictures. During pleasure reading, let him read what he wants while he enjoys the pictures.

DD14 is dyslexic but fabulous at guessing words by the context of the pictures. It was imperative that I removed the context clues from pictures and focused on phonics with her during her reading lessons. But we still enjoyed picture books together during non-school times. And I always included a lot of books of all sorts into our school day.

It doesn't have to be words only, all of the time.

Edited by Storygirl
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Just have to say shovels are very useful when cooking on a campfire. 

Also I worked in a historical bakery a long time ago where giant wooden paddles, very similar to a shovel were used for putting the bread in and out of the huge, wood heated oven. 

So even shovels are an aid to cooking in some circumstances 

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GIven that a very high percentage of kids learn to read with pictures, I don't think it's that awful of a thing.

In fact, wordless books are a thing because comprehending the author's intent, partly through pictures at that age, is so important.

I really think this is something to decide case by case.  Personally I would not deny my child the pleasure of reading a picture book at age 4/5.  I would do decoding work both with and without pictures.  But my kids are probably different from the OP's.

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17 hours ago, Melissa in Australia said:

Looking through  the book first and looking at the pictures are actually an early reading strategy. Teachers call it "getting your knowledge ready."  

It amongst other things, helps the child gain confidence in their ability to read. 

 

So yes, Melissa is right on this. However it’s best as a comprehension strategy with someone who can already read the material on the page. In decoding instruction we want to stick with straight decoding. 

So OP can cover the pictures with an index card and uncover after he read or rewrite the book into blank. 

Thing is, he should be reading Bob books after fluent (to my mind). So I agree with OP’s concern that he’s guessing instead of doing the hard work of building fluency.

You’re not typically pushing comprehension too much in the beginning. If she wants that, there are other ways to engage prior knowledge without undermining decoding. (Do you remember a time when ... etc)

What is your main curriculum? Maybe do more fluency work? I drilled both my kids. With my dd I used flash cards and with my ds Quizlet.

Edited by PeterPan
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14 hours ago, Kjirstyn2023 said:

Okay, thanks! I am definitely wanting to avoid any temptation to use pictures as tools for guessing the words, which is why I asked.  Sounds like I just need to put readers away even if he is interested in them, until he gets a little further along! (We're using OPGTR, so will be easy to do if we ditch readers for now.)

Either way. Cover pics till reads or do more fluency drills. When I worked in K5 we drilled for fluency. Some kids need quite a bit, so don’t be afraid to do it. Just short sessions, like 10 words, multiple times a day. You can drill words, phrases, sentences to fluency. My dd (very ADHD, now on meds in college ) needed more fluency work than my dyslexic ds. 

You have to meet them right where they are. Your gut was right on this, so listen to it! 😀

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4 hours ago, SKL said:

GIven that a very high percentage of kids learn to read with pictures, I don't think it's that awful of a thing.

In fact, wordless books are a thing because comprehending the author's intent, partly through pictures at that age, is so important.

I really think this is something to decide case by case.  Personally I would not deny my child the pleasure of reading a picture book at age 4/5.  I would do decoding work both with and without pictures.  But my kids are probably different from the OP's.

So as a suggestion, she could do that by covering the text, studying pictures, then covering pictures. Sure that would be cool! It’s only a problem because he’s jumping and not decoding. She probably needs to work on fluency and can get control of the impulsivity.

With my kids I wrote little books for them to read and illustrate. Lots of valid ways to work on this.

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12 hours ago, Kjirstyn2023 said:

Great, I'll think more along these lines! I guess I was thinking if he's ASKING to read a book, then it's not a great idea to hold him to boring 'ole text and cause his interest to wane, but I think I'm worrying more than I need to about that.

You might notice whether he was asking to READ them or more like saying they’re cute and wanting them read to him.

If it’s instructional time, supervise and structure for your goals. If it’s his pleasure time, hand it to him and walk away. He could “read” them on his own with pictures and later reread with you. Bob books are a fleeting stage and frankly some kids outgrow them before they’re ready to decode them.

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10 hours ago, Melissa in Australia said:

Just have to say shovels are very useful when cooking on a campfire. 

Also I worked in a historical bakery a long time ago where giant wooden paddles, very similar to a shovel were used for putting the bread in and out of the huge, wood heated oven. 

So even shovels are an aid to cooking in some circumstances 

Now I keep shovels for bonking my kid, like hello, get in line. 😂

But seriously what y’all are highlighting well for op is that there is skill in teaching reading and that she can continue to read and grow as an educator. Some kids slide right into it and some will need more tools. Like shovels, haha. I’ve had to do a lot more reading about teaching reading for my ds than I did for my dd. Sometimes we end up buying out the hardware store! 😁

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1 hour ago, PeterPan said:

You might notice whether he was asking to READ them or more like saying they’re cute and wanting them read to him.

If it’s instructional time, supervise and structure for your goals. If it’s his pleasure time, hand it to him and walk away. He could “read” them on his own with pictures and later reread with you. Bob books are a fleeting stage and frankly some kids outgrow them before they’re ready to decode them.

Yeah, the way reading clicks, my youngest outpaced BOB books before I even pulled them out of storage.  My eldest needed the practice up to about halfway through, and then bang.  Fluent and not interested in BOB.

In retrospect, I wish I had left a lot more of our books within reach of the kids to use as they pleased.  We had many that we never used due to the unexpected way the kids progressed.

I love the idea of giving them the words to read and illustrate.

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I’m clearly not a reading expert, my sample size being very small. But 1DS was happy to go through the curriculum exactly as written. 2DS is not like his brother, and has to do everything his way. So he took that box of books with 4 or 5 pictures of objects that started with the same letter upstairs one day. And he sat there, figuring out the words based on the first letter and the picture. And that was it. He declared himself a reader, and he’s never looked back. 
So I think there’s value in being open minded about right ways and wrong ways, while striving for the end goal.

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I have noticed that my kids all do that when they are learning to read. I think it is helpful in comprehension and figuring out words above your level later, but when they're first starting out, I remind them to read the word that is in front of them a lot. I'm on my fifth child now with reading, and they have all done this. (Well, maybe not my first, but she just sort of knew how to read at 3 or 4, and I didn't really do a lot of explicit instruction.)

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On 10/17/2019 at 1:10 AM, SKL said:

GIven that a very high percentage of kids learn to read with pictures, I don't think it's that awful of a thing.

In fact, wordless books are a thing because comprehending the author's intent, partly through pictures at that age, is so important.

I really think this is something to decide case by case.  Personally I would not deny my child the pleasure of reading a picture book at age 4/5.  I would do decoding work both with and without pictures.  But my kids are probably different from the OP's.

Some kids will learn to read no matter the method. But brain research has pretty definitely shown that phonics is the best method and using cues such as pictures can be detrimental in the long run for kids who don’t easily pick up reading. Not surprisingly, most schools in the US aren’t using research proven best practices.

https://www.apmreports.org/story/2018/09/10/hard-words-why-american-kids-arent-being-taught-to-read

https://www.apmreports.org/story/2019/08/22/whats-wrong-how-schools-teach-reading

Edited by Frances
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On 10/16/2019 at 3:36 PM, Kjirstyn2023 said:

Okay, thanks! I am definitely wanting to avoid any temptation to use pictures as tools for guessing the words, which is why I asked.  Sounds like I just need to put readers away even if he is interested in them, until he gets a little further along! (We're using OPGTR, so will be easy to do if we ditch readers for now.)

You can put pieces of paper over the pictures.  I have seen too many remedial students who are extreme guessers and worked so hard to stop their guessing habits that I cannot recommend any practice that leads to any guessing habits at all.

A good decodable that you can't guess the words from the pictures are the I See Sam readers, free to print:

http://marriottmd.com/sam/

The Blend Phonics readers have no pictures. Blend Phonics page:

http://donpotter.net/education_pages/blend_phonics.html

Direct link to books, large font, lot of pages:

http://donpotter.net/pdf/bplitebooks.pdf

Smaller font, a lot less pages to print:

http://donpotter.net/pdf/bplitebooks_small.pdf

Edited by ElizabethB
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On 10/17/2019 at 7:45 AM, Melissa in Australia said:

Looking through  the book first and looking at the pictures are actually an early reading strategy. Teachers call it "getting your knowledge ready."  

It amongst other things, helps the child gain confidence in their ability to read. 

Totally agree with Melissa.  But I do think that those of us down under don't focus so tightly on phonics when kids are learning to read. I have a friend who is a reading specialist and she teaches kids to use all sorts of clues to help them learn to read -- phonics of course but also things like semantic expectation.  I think that kids who are enjoying the process of learning to reading are more likely to put in the effort to learn to do it.  Pictures are a part of the joy for little kids.  I would NOT cover them up.

Ruth in NZ

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3 hours ago, lewelma said:

Totally agree with Melissa.  But I do think that those of us down under don't focus so tightly on phonics when kids are learning to read. I have a friend who is a reading specialist and she teaches kids to use all sorts of clues to help them learn to read -- phonics of course but also things like semantic expectation.  I think that kids who are enjoying the process of learning to reading are more likely to put in the effort to learn to do it.  Pictures are a part of the joy for little kids.  I would NOT cover them up.

Ruth in NZ

 

Well, honestly, very few schools focus on phonics in the US, either! But as people said upthread, there's actually good evidence that phonics instruction is more effective. Yes, some kids can learn with the picture cueing, but overall it's less effective (even though, of course, there are kids who will learn to read whatever you do, including no instruction whatsoever.) I think one of the problems with using visuals is that for some kids, you will teach them that interpreting pictures is part of reading, which means that they'll both have to work extra hard to read and focus on the wrong thing. Then you'll have to unteach them to actually get them to read later, which is pretty inefficient. Actually, this reminds me of how we teach math sometimes... where we inadvertently teach systems and models that aren't at all what we meant to teach, but which are implied by how we actually spend our time teaching. Communication is hard work! 🙂

As for the joy of reading, I don't think reading is very fun at the beginning, just like any other skill one isn't very good at! We make sure to read lots and lots to our kids, so they still think reading is a fun activity. For us, reading lessons are a fairly small fraction of our total reading time, thankfully. And also, I've found that the ability to sound out all sorts of words is actually quite empowering for my kids, even before they can read whole sentences or books. 

The way we deal with picture books, by the way, is that I will ask my kids to sound out just a few words on a page when we're reading. I'll also try to make sure they aren't the words that are cued by the pictures. That works well for us to make sure that the child is focused on the letters and not on trying to decode using the pictures, and it also keeps reading together fun. 

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20 minutes ago, square_25 said:

 

Well, honestly, very few schools focus on phonics in the US, either! But as people said upthread, there's actually good evidence that phonics instruction is more effective. Yes, some kids can learn with the picture cueing, but overall it's less effective (even though, of course, there are kids who will learn to read whatever you do, including no instruction whatsoever.) I think one of the problems with using visuals is that for some kids, you will teach them that interpreting pictures is part of reading, which means that they'll both have to work extra hard to read and focus on the wrong thing. Then you'll have to unteach them to actually get them to read later, which is pretty inefficient. Actually, this reminds me of how we teach math sometimes... where we inadvertently teach systems and models that aren't at all what we meant to teach, but which are implied by how we actually spend our time teaching. Communication is hard work! 🙂

As for the joy of reading, I don't think reading is very fun at the beginning, just like any other skill one isn't very good at! We make sure to read lots and lots to our kids, so they still think reading is a fun activity. For us, reading lessons are a fairly small fraction of our total reading time, thankfully. And also, I've found that the ability to sound out all sorts of words is actually quite empowering for my kids, even before they can read whole sentences or books. 

The way we deal with picture books, by the way, is that I will ask my kids to sound out just a few words on a page when we're reading. I'll also try to make sure they aren't the words that are cued by the pictures. That works well for us to make sure that the child is focused on the letters and not on trying to decode using the pictures, and it also keeps reading together fun. 

I agree with it not necessarily being fun at first. My son was raised in a very language rich environment and always loved books, words, basically anything verbal. He had an extremely advanced vocabulary. But he didn’t like learning to read at first. So we did only short lessons each day, and he still was read to for hours every day and he also listened to lots of audio books, plus lots of conversation with adults. And once he caught on and became a fluent reader, there was no stopping him. He was constantly reading everything.

I feel pretty strongly that many public schools in the US are failing kids because they are not using research proven best practices for teaching reading or almost anything else. And it’s the kids who don’t have extra help or support at home or parents who can afford outside intervention that suffer the most. It’s possible to get kids very excited about books and reading, but also teach them using best practices, even if the results are a bit slower and less fun at first.

 

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I'm not a primary school teacher, but my understanding of NZ's approach is to do a whole language, immersive experience with an overlay of phonics for the first year.  This allows about 80% of kids to learn to read by age 6 (school starts here ON your 5th birthday, so you enter mid-year). This makes reading fun and kids have no sense of failure even if they can't actually read (just cueing on the pictures or just telling stories but not reading).  Then in the second year, Reading Recovery teachers like my friend take over and work more intensively one-one with the remaining 20% or so of students who need a more explicit instruction. This is publicly funded.  One-on-one instruction goes on for about 9 weeks I think.  For those small percentage of students who still can't read, there is an additional program whose name I forget.  My friend who is a RR teacher is quite skilled and works with all kinds of kids from those just not getting it, to those with serious learning disabilities. Seems to work pretty well here to get all the kids reading, and the majority of them learning to read with little effort. 

Edited by lewelma

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1 hour ago, lewelma said:

I'm not a primary school teacher, but my understanding of NZ's approach is to do a whole language, immersive experience with an overlay of phonics for the first year.  This allows about 80% of kids to learn to read by age 6 (school starts here ON your 5th birthday, so you enter mid-year). This makes reading fun and kids have no sense of failure even if they can't actually read (just cueing on the pictures or just telling stories but not reading).  Then in the second year, Reading Recovery teachers like my friend take over and work more intensively one-one with the remaining 20% or so of students who need a more explicit instruction. This is publicly funded.  One-on-one instruction goes on for about 9 weeks I think.  For those small percentage of students who still can't read, there is an additional program whose name I forget.  My friend who is a RR teacher is quite skilled and works with all kinds of kids from those just not getting it, to those with serious learning disabilities. Seems to work pretty well here to get all the kids reading, and the majority of them learning to read with little effort. 


My older daughter was in kindergarten in the US for a year, and it doesn’t sound too different from what you’re describing. I have to say I wasn’t super impressed with the level of fluency after a year of instruction (their curriculum involved making books, and they had to read them out loud to the parents, so I got to hear them read.) So when you say “reading by age 6,” it’s hard for me to know exactly what it means. I assume the level of reading varied quite a bit even in the group who in some sense “got it.” And you’d need to show me data to convince me that this worked better than phonics. I looked into the data at some point before teaching my older girl to read, and whole language instruction is basically unsupported by data.

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43 minutes ago, square_25 said:


My older daughter was in kindergarten in the US for a year, and it doesn’t sound too different from what you’re describing. I have to say I wasn’t super impressed with the level of fluency after a year of instruction (their curriculum involved making books, and they had to read them out loud to the parents, so I got to hear them read.) So when you say “reading by age 6,” it’s hard for me to know exactly what it means. I assume the level of reading varied quite a bit even in the group who in some sense “got it.” And you’d need to show me data to convince me that this worked better than phonics. I looked into the data at some point before teaching my older girl to read, and whole language instruction is basically unsupported by data.

Whole language in isolation. yes.  But NZ uses a mixed whole language/phonics approach. I am just getting a sense from this thread that it is phonics 100%. That is the research, and that is what you should do. And based on my discussions with my RR friend, that is just not the whole of it.  Kids expect a verb in a sentence, they expect the words to match the pictures, they expect grammar to match how they talk. It not *just* decoding individual letters into sounds in isolation that goes on in the brain.  And I would also argue, that research from different traditions will give different results.  My guess (completely unsupported) is that different countries will come up with different research and different results. 

I taught my older boy with Bob books at the age of 5 for about 2 months, and then when he saw the NZ readers which are more whole language, he asked to read them.  There was a LOT of give-it-a-guess, way-too-hard-words-to-sound-out, but super-high interest topics in those readers.  He kept at them for 3 months because they were FUN, and then he asked to switch back to the more advanced Bob books.  *He* could tell it was time to master the phonics because *he* could understand its purpose and how his lack of knowledge was holding him back. We we went back to phonics instruction in isolation for 2 more months, and then he was done. Harry Potter all the way.  🙂  For me as a homeschool educator, interest is key to a young child's enthusiasm and motivation for a difficult task, and whole language books are better for that for sure. 

My younger son who has dysgraphia could not actually understand phonics. I gave up on this approach after about a year and a half of intense effort (30 minutes per day, consistently year round). We switched to whole language at that point just with phonics dabbling.  At the age of 12, he was reading Count of Monte Cristo but he was still learning to master how letters connect to sounds so that he could spell. At TWELVE, we were still working on spelling the top 100 words.  If I had stuck with phonics only, he would not have read until years later. This would have held him back, and would have withheld his greatest passion - reading.

These are just one-off kids, and of course the research is about the *average* kid.  But when you are homeschooling, you don't have to just use the *average* kid data and research. You can *adapt* to what your ONE kid needs. That is the beauty of homeschooling. 

Edited by lewelma
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Yes, of course the ability to redirect is the beauty of homeschooling :-). And if phonics really isn’t working, I’d try something else. But starting out with approaches with known issues seems like borrowing trouble.

Anyway, I’m not sure I have much else to contribute without us actually starting to dig into the data, so I’ll bow out :-).

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12 hours ago, square_25 said:


My older daughter was in kindergarten in the US for a year, and it doesn’t sound too different from what you’re describing. I have to say I wasn’t super impressed with the level of fluency after a year of instruction (their curriculum involved making books, and they had to read them out loud to the parents, so I got to hear them read.) So when you say “reading by age 6,” it’s hard for me to know exactly what it means. I assume the level of reading varied quite a bit even in the group who in some sense “got it.” And you’d need to show me data to convince me that this worked better than phonics. I looked into the data at some point before teaching my older girl to read, and whole language instruction is basically unsupported by data.

 

Reading in Kindy starts at the beginning, with holding the book in the correct orientation. An educator would call that student an 'emergent reader'.    ime Reading is defined by a kinder as independent reading..they know enough to look at a word, and with no help, state what the word is.  

Under the DRA system, these are the (pre common core) goals: http://rsd407.org/curric/elemglance/readingbenchmark/DRA-BookLevelChart.pdf

and descriptions: https://www.lcps.org/cms/lib4/VA01000195/Centricity/Domain/8916/DRA_Text_level_Descriptions_2011.pdf

Guess and check using cues from the illustrations fades fast from the expectations.  G&C becomes comical when the instructors won't place by instructional need, as often the students have vocab that is much more precise than the text word that the illustration theoretically supports (ie the instructor doesn't have the resources as spelled out in Level A - sentence structure similar to child's language).  One thing that people forget with guess/check is that its helping the child segment the printed word by listening....is the crayon color word brown or blue?  if I say the word, can I match the sounds I hear at the beginning and end of the word and figure out the printed word correctly...its not solely guess and check, there is some reasoning that is supposed to go on.  Rather difficult in a noisy 25 child classroom with several adults and medical issues to get that point across to all students.

 

Edited by HeighHo

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19 hours ago, lewelma said:

I'm not a primary school teacher, but my understanding of NZ's approach is to do a whole language, immersive experience with an overlay of phonics for the first year.  This allows about 80% of kids to learn to read by age 6 (school starts here ON your 5th birthday, so you enter mid-year). This makes reading fun and kids have no sense of failure even if they can't actually read (just cueing on the pictures or just telling stories but not reading).  Then in the second year, Reading Recovery teachers like my friend take over and work more intensively one-one with the remaining 20% or so of students who need a more explicit instruction. This is publicly funded.  One-on-one instruction goes on for about 9 weeks I think.  For those small percentage of students who still can't read, there is an additional program whose name I forget.  My friend who is a RR teacher is quite skilled and works with all kinds of kids from those just not getting it, to those with serious learning disabilities. Seems to work pretty well here to get all the kids reading, and the majority of them learning to read with little effort. 

Unfortunately, in the US, there is wide variation in approach not just from state to state, but even within a state in different school districts. My state just released school report cards, and there are schools where fewer than 10% of kids are reading at grade level (third grade is the earliest this would be officially tested and reported). The frustrating thing is that schools are regularly changing approaches and curriculum, but rarely basing those choices on research backed best practices. Which means that whole groups of kids are left behind during all of the experimentation.

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12 hours ago, square_25 said:

Yes, of course the ability to redirect is the beauty of homeschooling :-). And if phonics really isn’t working, I’d try something else. But starting out with approaches with known issues seems like borrowing trouble.

Anyway, I’m not sure I have much else to contribute without us actually starting to dig into the data, so I’ll bow out :-).

I'll bow out too. It is not like I am some big whole language advocate, but I do feel that in some homeschooling circles, it is Phonics 100% even when kids hate it or are in tears.  I just wanted to help newbies realize that they can teach reading in many ways.  There is no failure in scrapping intensive phonics for techniques that work better for your individual child. 

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We pushed through on the words-on-the-whiteboard plan, and...I'm just totally laughing, kids are such nuts. He insisted on writing out the words HIMSELF (he's 4; I dictated the spelling to him) and THEN sounding them out, and he had no problem getting excited about it in that context. Now he's all thrilled he can read, and I'm just over here like-- aren't 4yo boys supposed to STRUGGLE with writing?! And this is your preferred way of processing phonics?!  Kids. Always something up their sleeve.  😅

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I don't think anyone doubts there is value in teaching phonics.  But for most kids, it is not necessary to teach it in a complete vacuum.  For many kids, a program that is all work and no play will create hurdles rather than prevent them.

That said, I do think it is possible to develop a program that is fun and phonics-intense at the same time.  I don't think the go-to "phonics readers" do that very well though.

I spent many years of my life "developing" fun phonics systems / books which I never published.  Maybe I am just a frustrated old bat.  😛

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On 10/19/2019 at 4:26 PM, lewelma said:

 Pictures are a part of the joy for little kids.  I would NOT cover them up.

Ruth in NZ

 

The suggestion doesn't keep kids from experiencing that joy--they get to see the pictures as soon as they read the page. It's just to help them focus on decoding instead of ignoring decoding and guessing based on pictures. Many kids don't need that strategy. But kids like the child of the OP who isn't decoding and IS guessing based on pictures--covering them temporarily can be a big help.

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My daughter had a lot of trouble decoding. She was an extreme guesser. Glancing at the picture while reading for her was bad. She'd just cycle through every thing in the picture or use it as an excuse not to decode. She struggled with every aspect (I suspect she has some auditory processing stuff going on) for a long time until one week it clicked and she went from 0 to 60.

My son is more natural at phonics. I personally (and have read several articles on it) feel blending is kind of awful and not intuitive. You can make the c-a-n sounds, but it's very hard to make that leap to "can." It doesn't actually sound like can at all. B blends much better than sister did, but c-a-n still doesn't immediately bring to mind a can. I have actually seen his reading take off with the use of simple readers as his confidence grows and he gets tons of repetition. I can try to get him to blend c-a-n into a word for 30 minutes, or he can sound it out and then glance at the picture, see a can and be off. He never "guesses" and there can be many items on the page, not just a can. He can make the connection from the sounds he is saying to the item on the page and is off and away. 

Both my children have learned to read through a solid phonics program. I understand phonics and help them use phonics strategies on unfamiliar words even as they grow. But one benefited from being able to check the pictures and one did not. Children are different - disregarding a method without considering that is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

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2 hours ago, MerryAtHope said:

 

The suggestion doesn't keep kids from experiencing that joy--they get to see the pictures as soon as they read the page. It's just to help them focus on decoding instead of ignoring decoding and guessing based on pictures. Many kids don't need that strategy. But kids like the child of the OP who isn't decoding and IS guessing based on pictures--covering them temporarily can be a big help.

He is not even 5. I would suggest the joy of books for a bit longer and then try again with phonics. There is no hurry at age 4. There is no hurry at 5 or even 6.  From my point of view, the *love* of reading is way more important that reading at 5 rather than 7. I would wait.

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11 minutes ago, lewelma said:

He is not even 5. I would suggest the joy of books for a bit longer and then try again with phonics. There is no hurry at age 4. There is no hurry at 5 or even 6.  From my point of view, the *love* of reading is way more important that reading at 5 rather than 7. I would wait.

I teach my kids early (so far, before 4 for both kids, but they are both at least somewhat accelerated) so that it feels low stress and low stakes :-). That’s been working well for us, anyway. And we read a ton to them while we work on phonics, so at least for us, it’s been unrelated to that joy.

 

2 hours ago, Sk8ermaiden said:

My daughter had a lot of trouble decoding. She was an extreme guesser. Glancing at the picture while reading for her was bad. She'd just cycle through every thing in the picture or use it as an excuse not to decode. She struggled with every aspect (I suspect she has some auditory processing stuff going on) for a long time until one week it clicked and she went from 0 to 60.

My son is more natural at phonics. I personally (and have read several articles on it) feel blending is kind of awful and not intuitive. You can make the c-a-n sounds, but it's very hard to make that leap to "can." It doesn't actually sound like can at all. B blends much better than sister did, but c-a-n still doesn't immediately bring to mind a can. I have actually seen his reading take off with the use of simple readers as his confidence grows and he gets tons of repetition. I can try to get him to blend c-a-n into a word for 30 minutes, or he can sound it out and then glance at the picture, see a can and be off. He never "guesses" and there can be many items on the page, not just a can. He can make the connection from the sounds he is saying to the item on the page and is off and away. 

Both my children have learned to read through a solid phonics program. I understand phonics and help them use phonics strategies on unfamiliar words even as they grow. But one benefited from being able to check the pictures and one did not. Children are different - disregarding a method without considering that is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

 

As a note, 100 Easy Lessons actually explicitly teaches blending. My favorite thing about that program is how thoroughly thought out and tested it is, and the blending teaching is totally one of the things I would have never thought of myself but works really well. (I’ve actually had to modify it slightly for both kids — my younger girl, in particular, needs more time to master the look of a letter than the program gives her — but I love how thoughtful it is about what kids struggle with.) 

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30 minutes ago, square_25 said:

I teach my kids early....

I love that we both said we would bow out.  Haha. We just can't help ourselves. 🙂

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1 hour ago, lewelma said:

I love that we both said we would bow out.  Haha. We just can't help ourselves. 🙂

It’s hard to stop talking, isn’t it??

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19 minutes ago, square_25 said:

It’s hard to stop talking, isn’t it??

Always.  There are so many interesting conversations happening on the board right now. Too bad I'm about ready to go into busy tutoring season with final exams in 3-4 weeks. 

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3 hours ago, lewelma said:

He is not even 5. I would suggest the joy of books for a bit longer and then try again with phonics. There is no hurry at age 4. There is no hurry at 5 or even 6.  From my point of view, the *love* of reading is way more important that reading at 5 rather than 7. I would wait.

True, I forgot he was 4, LOL! I would only work on it if the child was asking at that age☺️

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4 hours ago, lewelma said:

He is not even 5. I would suggest the joy of books for a bit longer and then try again with phonics. There is no hurry at age 4. There is no hurry at 5 or even 6.  From my point of view, the *love* of reading is way more important that reading at 5 rather than 7. I would wait.

Also, I personally feel most young children are generally exposed to much richer language and vocabulary through conversation with adults, audio books, and being read to than they will get from reading on their own. So I opted to devote significant time to these activities and saved reading instruction until six, almost seven. Another plus of being able to tailor homeschooling was that at that age and with the background of a very language rich environment, it took very little time to reach mastery.

And it’s yet another thing I hate about recent trends in public education in the US, trying to teach reading during preschool rather than just immersing children in a language rich environment and doing very basic letter recognition and sounds. Research has shown significant gaps in vocabulary levels and word exposure in children from different socioeconomic backgrounds when they start kindergarten. And that gap is not helped by wasting time trying to teach 3 and 4 year olds to read in public preschools. It’s addressed by exposing kids to the wonderful world of books and language in every way possible. Way back in the dark ages when I went to school, we weren’t taught to read until first grade, and I don’t recall either anyone really struggling or anyone being able to read before that.

Edited by Frances
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On 10/20/2019 at 4:26 PM, square_25 said:


My older daughter was in kindergarten in the US for a year, and it doesn’t sound too different from what you’re describing. I have to say I wasn’t super impressed with the level of fluency after a year of instruction (their curriculum involved making books, and they had to read them out loud to the parents, so I got to hear them read.) So when you say “reading by age 6,” it’s hard for me to know exactly what it means. I assume the level of reading varied quite a bit even in the group who in some sense “got it.” And you’d need to show me data to convince me that this worked better than phonics. I looked into the data at some point before teaching my older girl to read, and whole language instruction is basically unsupported by data.

By age 6 my son could read things like the Beginners Bible, the big print Zac Powers Books, Magic treehouse books etc.  He was at the advanced end though.  The standard was green level PM readers.  Ds12 was about a year ahead I think but that is still not bad given that most kids start school not knowing the full alphabet.  The only weakness I have seen is the kids who seem to be OK for the first couple of years but are actually dyslexic (we need another sweep and more investment there) and kids who are hovering at the minimum with a lot of effort who could really use more help.  Most kids will learn to read whatever method you use.  Some need particular methods and some will need long term support.

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