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|Reading to brother and sister.|
|Writing Bible verses.|
|Click on the paper above to see a sample of Daniel's handwriting on a regular lined piece of paper. This was going to be graded when I realized my error--he's been writing on Manuscript paper for all of his writing!|
|Click on the above picture to see the difference between regular lined paper and Manuscript paper!|
When it comes to Language Arts-Reading, Writing, Spelling, and Phonics-I might be an oddball in how I instruct my children. It had never occurred to me to stick my kids' noses in a Dick and Jane reader and expect them to learn to read from it. I never liked them when I was learning how to read, so why force it on to my children? It is not exciting and fun! I know I am going to get some emails or in person conversations about this. Think about it! How exciting is the book when it says, "See Jane Run!" on the front cover? I know we can't judge a book by its front cover. Consider it, though! Would YOU read it? Probably not, huh?!
It is NOT realistic to expect a child to read one of those "blah" readers all the time. What is it that I do? :0) Iím glad you asked! :0)
When Daniel came home to school in June of 2001, he hadn't learned how to decode any words to even begin comprehending what he was reading. Here I was thinking the school had actually taught him how to read, when they really taught him how to memorize books instead! I simply began by instilling a simple rule that everyone adhered to after each meal. That was to simply go find a comfortable position and read books for 15 minutes. I didn't care if they read the pictures, read some words, looked at some pictures, and made up the story from their imaginations or if they became totally engrossed in the story. I wasn't concerned. I knew the reading and eventually comprehension would come in time. As days turned in to weeks, I began to see a transformation in Daniel. He started getting nervous about reading other larger books because he knew the words in his favorite Dr. Seuss books. He was familiar with them and he knew all the words. I sat down with him one afternoon, pulled him up on my lap and read to him from his own little Bible. After reading 2-3 stories, I asked him if there were some words in there that he knew. He knew a lot of those words, but it's the ones like Mordecai, Boaz and Nebuchadnezzar that really threw him off. I told him that sometimes those names really confused me too, but it never has stopped me from reading my Bible. I began to explain to him that when we read one book, the words in one book are the same as in another book, but arranged in a different way to make a story. We talked about how to go about understanding his Bible while not having to really "know" those long names all the time. One of the things he could do was to skip over the name until he came to the end of the sentence and then go back and read the sentence again until he understood what the sentence said. He agreed to do that and after a while, he began coming to me to tell me that he didn't know this one word, but he wanted to know what it was. As it turned out, it happened to be another one of those long names. I told him that it was Jehoshaphat and we sat down to read the story of that king together. This time though, he read quite a few of the words and I only helped him a little bit.
Now, I am getting ready for Spring assessments of his abilities. I expect that he'll be able to read and comprehend on well over a 4th grade level. He chooses to read that level of reading material on his own. He loves to read about sharks, whales, spiders, space ships, shuttles, robots, the Revolutionary War as well as a growing interest in historical figures like George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln as well as a host of other topics. Much of the time, though, he loves to read his Bible. I think I've retaped tape on the binding and pages quite a few times. He wants to know the Bible and one can only do that by being able to read and understand what one is reading.
The curriculum that we're using for Language Arts is Alpha Omega Life Pacs. It pretty much clarifies things and fills in gaps. It also provides a base for many different discussions on literature and writing, which is his mother's area of interest. :0)
I am so proud of him and his willingness to work so very hard on his school work. He does a week's worth of work in one day on most days, so we've cut down our schooling to just 4 days a week. He is definitely growing in to a young man of quality and character. For that we have no one but the Lord to thank.
As for Heidi, she is beginning to learn how words work. She loves to read and snuggle. We are using real books to teach her to read. We're also using computer games as well as a little bit of phonics flash card games. She's on the brink of discovery and it is very exciting to see her blossoming in this way. She is quite a bit different than Daniel was while trying to learn how to read. She is getting to the point where she's getting frustrated with just reading pictures. She wants to know what the words say too. I am being very careful not to have her memorize books because I do not feel that memorization lends itself to proper reading. It gets in the way of decoding and it only masks true comprehension. We take one sound at a time and we're utilizing the concepts of Teaching Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons without the structure. She does not learn well with all the structure. It's too much stress for her. We do lessons at a drop of a hat for her and that seems to be working very well for her right now. Next Fall, though, I suspect it will be a little bit different. :0)
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