Monday, May 04, 2009

Teaching children to read

I'm way behind on e-mail but this note caught my attention because I've been teaching my daughter to read this year...
I have a 6 year old boy we adopted last year. We were told he had a mild learning disability. He is able to associate letters to pictures, such as g for a picture of a girl, and j for jeep/jellybeans etc. but is unable to tell me the name of the letters. He is able to copy the letters without difficulty, and they are not backwards. It is very frustrating because I don't know what to do. Do you have any suggestions or programs that may be helpful? Or maybe there is a name for this, so that I could research it some more. He started kindergarten in PS because we thought that he couldn't receive speech therapy only, but when we found out that we could have speech and HS we took him out. The school told us that his IEP made him eligible for the use of the resource room, but when I tried to set up a schedule for this, that would work for us, they said that they could not accommodate our time. The resource teacher was supposed to call once a month to check on us and didn't call all year. We finally decided to go to a private speech therapist and withdrew him completely. I don't want to put him back in.

PS. There has to be a way for me to teach him.
I read your blog often, and went to your seminar at the cinncinati convention because i appreciate your views and your experience that you share.
I'm not a reading expert, but from personal experience I have found that knowing the names of the letters is not necessary to teach a child to read and in some cases may actually be a hinderance. Given that your son is already associating letters with a particular sounds and writing the letters, I'd say keep reading good books to him and add in a few other activities to go along with the book you're reading. Mastering letter names, phonics lessons, and learning to read is not the ultimate goal for me, learning to love reading good books is our goal.

I'm a big fan of Five In a Row for the early elementary years because the picture book they include are engaging for both the parent and the child. Other excellent choices are Jeannie Fulbright's science series and Ann Voskamp's A Child's Geography. All of these curricula guide the parent and equip them to to teach the child in a very natural way.

There is a lot of pressure on parents to make sure their child is learning to read by a certain age. This is unfortunate because it puts needless stress on the parent and can create a very tense home environment for the child. All of my children learned to read at different ages, some very early and others a bit later. But they all eventually learned to read and more importantly love reading.

You son blessed to have a mom who cares so much and wants to do the very best for him. Given that he's only been in your home a short time, my advice is to relax and enjoy your son. Reading will come over time. Love him and learn with him and you can't do enough to screw him up. Hard to believe but from personal experience it's true.

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