Another resource for teaching reading

Posted by  | Thursday, January 12, 2012  at 7:17 PM  
I thought I'd pass along another great book on teaching speech, spelling, writing, and reading. (Please know that I think this is just one of many great resources and I am just going to explain why I have found it helpful for instructing Karis; I definitely do not think that it is the only or best way! But I am excited about it...)

As I've researched homeschooling, I've become more and more convinced that a Classical Education will be the best fit for our family. I am planning to enroll Karis in a Classical Conversations co-op next fall for kindergarten and I am trying to research it as much as possible before then. While reading The Core by CC's founder, Leah Bortins, I stumbled across a recommendation for The Writing Road To Reading by Spalding and immediately knew I wanted to read it! I had already noticed that Karis could spell better than she could read at that point... every school day we played with her magnetic letters and I started asking her to sound out a few words to put on her board and was surprised that she could actually do it! She has since figured out reading a bit better so the gap is not quite as large, but back when we first started school, she could spell most short vowel-sound words I gave her but could not read at all. So I purchased The Writing Road to Reading and read through a lot of it over Christmas break. It really made sense to me. Basically, the book instructs how to teach handwriting by using spoken phonograms, which in turn teaches the child to read. As you introduce a phonogram, you explain exactly how to write it, how many sounds it can make, and any rules that go with it. There are just 70 common phonograms in the English language and after mastering those, the child can figure out how to read almost everything! A key point is that spelling should be taught from the spoken word... children who only copy words do not progress as quickly because they often rely on visual recall alone and do not have to think through the rules of spelling. With the Spalding method, new words are always learned by studying the phonetic sounds of the spoken word.

When we started back with our schoolwork after Christmas, I decided that we would learn these phonograms and their rules before proceeding on our path with The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading. Karis can't really do the writing aspect very well yet (she wasn't at all interested in handwriting last fall so we are just now starting handwriting), but she loves to put new phonograms on the board and learn their sounds and rules. We have only done about 6 days of phonograms and I can already tell a great improvement with the words she can read. Because she is learning the rules for each sound a phonogram makes, she can immediately figure out most words containing those phonograms. For example, many reading programs keep children in the short vowel sounds for a while and they are limited in what they can read. After our first day when Karis learned the rules for all 3 sounds that "a" could make, she immediately could read words containing the long "a" sound as well as the "ah" sound. I found so many more words that she could read in our normal books than I did the day before. As she is sounding out words in her books, I ask her questions about the rules for the sounds and she can actually tell me. For example, I asked her why the "a" said its name instead of the short vowel sound and she could tell me that it was because it came at the end of a syllable. A bonus is that I am really learning a lot about English as I teach her! Some of these rules I never learned but they would have really helped me in school.

I still think that The Ordinary Guide to Teaching Reading is a great resource and we will probably go back to it for further reading instruction after learning the 70 phonograms, but I also plan to continue to utilize the Spalding method and its lesson plans to teach Karis handwriting and reinforce the correct rules of spelling.

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