So, you’ve arrived here full of enthusiasm and have decided to either help your child with his/her reading or to Home School full time. And you’re looking to find the best Early Reading program. Nothing wrong with that!!
However, you really need to know some of the problems you may face. We could call this “What parents don’t know about teaching their child to read because they’ve never had it explained”.
Before you start you might like to read this….
Millions of American children get to fourth grade without learning to read proficiently, and that puts them on the high school dropout track. The ability to read is critical to a child’s success in school (and) life-long earning potential……..
Anne E Casey Foundation
We asked you the question, “Why do you think that one third of all children in the US fail to reach the minimum standard of reading by Grade 4?
We'll tell you and how to avoid your child becoming one of the poor- reader statistics.
There’s a lot to read here but it provides a comprehensive explanation of why there is so much reading failure in schools throughout the world today. None of what follows is difficult to understand and there will be some ‘lightbulb moments’ for you along the way.
One answer is to look at the method used to teach children to read today, whether at school or home schooling. Many years ago, Phonics was the method used to teach reading in schools – the same Phonics method in use today.
The problem was that the academics of the day found that, despite their best efforts, up to 30% of children left school with a low standard of literacy. Sound familiar? Well, nothing changes. So, to overcome the problems of Phonics, the Whole Word method (also called Look and Say) was introduced.
Fast forward another few years and the academics found that the Whole Word method also had a failure rate of around 30%. So, it’s back to Phonics again, and would you believe it – the same literacy failure rate is now endemic yet again.
Regardless of the spin educational authorities put on literacy statistics, in almost every report on early childhood reading 30% of children fail to reach the minimum standard of reading by Grade 4.
Leaving aside problems not related to teaching its simply because one reading teaching method doesn’t suit all children.
Phonics is the method that has been reintroduced into schools today, but the problem with Phonics is that it focuses totally on the sounds of the letters. But English is a difficult language, where many ‘rules’ don’t work. The English language is a mix of foreign words – French, German, Latin etc which don’t conform to any pure Phonics method.
What’s more, the academics don’t tell you why it doesn’t work but keep pushing Phonics as the way, and the only way, to teach your child to read.
So, with 30% of children failing to reach a minimum standard of reading by Grade 4, clearly Phonics as the only method being used to teach children to read is not the answer.
Furthermore, of the 70% who do learn to read using Phonics, many of them will struggle.
Here’s a simple example of what we’re talking about.
Take the word ‘bow’. It can mean ‘bow’ as in bow and arrow.
It can also mean ‘bow’ as in bowing to the King.
It’s the same word but two totally different meanings and pronunciations. Very confusing for the early reader.
Take the word ‘bough’ of a tree, (‘bough’ which is pronounced as in ‘cow’). Why then is ‘cough’ pronounced ‘koff’ and why is ‘tough’ pronounced ‘tuff’.
Tough, cough, bough – three words with only one letter changed and yet all three are pronounced quite differently.
What’s more, none of these words can be solved phonetically by the early reader.
It’s generally accepted that to read reasonably well a child should know 100 Sight Words. A term many parents will have come across.
This is an example of a block of 100 Sight Words which your child will need to know to become a good reader –
I like the said and am can see look at Dad is Mum in are come no up here we went for a it you big my to on so looking two three go going after new have take an did your today he was were this she yes down came then where some they all looked not his when little that there it’s but one saw into away with do got could would will their me by get what as her our them very make next had of too call from out back has him live put now about made time us old other off because last over
BUT look at the table again….
26% of these Sight Words (identified in red) that a beginning reader needs to know to make progress can’t be solved using early Phonics ie sounding out each letter and joining the sounds to make a word. Furthermore, 20% of them (identified in green) can’t be solved using early Phonics until the child has learned the rules related to these words.
Using Phonics as the only method to teach children to read, where 26% of the most used words in early reading can’t be solved using that method is incredible and yet Phonics is the method which is being re-introduced throughout the world today.
So what is the alternative?
Whole Word (Look and Say) was another method used prior to the present version of Phonics, but that, too, failed the same number of children for different reasons, so it’s back to Phonics again today.
Let’s stop there for a moment.
Using Phonics or Whole Word as the main methods to teach children to read will fail many children!!!
Both Whole Word and Phonics are very valuable tools used together but, used on their own, neither method will teach all children to read. The result is that by using either method alone contributes to the 30% failure rate by Grade 4.
So let’s talk about the Whole Word method.
Whole Word is the method you’re using to read this without thinking about it. That’s because it’s a more natural and much faster way to read and communicate.
However, for the beginning reader, it involves remembering individual words to read whenever they’re seen. Unless this is done systematically, introducing one or two new words at a time and then giving lots of practice in reading them, many children in the Early Reading stage will struggle to remember so many words.
There are two other recognized methods that, put into the Phonics/Whole Word mix, give many more children the opportunity to read successfully.
One of these methods that we use in our Program is called Reading-For-Meaning which really supports the other two methods.
When we read text, we do so to get meaning or information from it. Problems arise if your child can make the sounds of the words but doesn’t expect to gain anything meaningful from the text. Using a wholly Phonics or Whole Word method tends to lead to this. What your child reads remains a series of disjointed sounds or individual words eg
Take the following sentence:
“The cat sat on the mat.”
As an adult, you’ll get an immediate picture of a cat sitting on a mat.
However, a child who is used to decoding all words using just Phonics doesn’t know how to interpret that simple sentence. All s/he knows is that c-a-t s-a-t o-n m-a-t is a disjointed series of sounds, and the real meaning of the words, and therefore the sentence, is lost.
She/he can’t recognize that c-a-t represents a cat. A child using just Phonics must then be taught to read meaning into a sentence.
As your child progresses through our Program we also use another method called To-With-By.
This method has fallen out of favor today but it is perfect for parents to teach their child to read. It is a 'fail safe' method which really works. This is how I used it when teaching to my class of little ones.
\Using the Stories in the Program, the parent –
Reads the Story to the child.
The parent then reads the story with the child.
Finally the Story is read by the child without assistance.
There are two positive things that come from following this method. The child feels good about his/her ability to read the Story successfully and the parent can check that the child has learned the skills taught with the Story. Used in conjunction with Whole Word, Phonics and Reading for Meaning your child has the best opportunity to learn to read.
At this point you can probably see why no one method will teach every child to read, but using a combination of the four methods will give every child the opportunity to read successfully.
There’s nothing wrong with any method if used with the other supporting methods, but on their own they fail a great many children.
So, the question you’re probably asking is, why don’t the education authorities use the four methods if these four methods we use are so good?
The answer is ‘cost’. It would be far too costly to -
· train every teacher to teach all four reading methods
· far too costly to provide the resources for teachers to use
· far too costly to provide the teaching material for each method
· far too costly to train teachers to teach small groups
Be aware! Phonics is the answer to every education authority’s dream. Simply get the whole class to chant the letters and sounds. No costly individual teaching and fewer resources needed.
However, parents who Home School full time and those who simply want to help their child learn to read have a priceless advantage.
They can choose to use all four methods in our Program and start their child on the way to reading success.
Our Program is designed to be easy for Parents to understand and use with their child. We deliberately avoid using jargon. There is nothing in our Program which contradicts or conflicts with established teaching methods. We simply use all four recognized reading methods together as a seamless package making it much easier for young readers to understand. If you have followed what we have explained so far then you will have no difficulty in using the Program when it comes to actually teaching your child.
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