Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Phonics Help!?

David’s post about teaching and jargon reminds me of my own immediate problem with my 1st grade daughter. We have reading contracts (which means that I have to sign off on the fact that she has done at least 15 minutes of reading each night). This is fine and we have been plodding along in the assigned readers without any real problem for months now. But because of her dilligence we are now at a level of reader that is beyond her phonics abilities and it is taking too long and getting frustrating for her. So I began combing my files for phonics programs or worksheets to help her over the bump. Nothing that is readily available is very good or what I’m looking for (blending sounds, word families, etc.). I don’t want a game or a gimmick--just plain old worksheets with lessons about the way letters work.

So I sought counsel from teachers. I’m telling you that I have a Master’s degree in political philosophy and I’d say that I’m reasonably competent in the English language. What kind of language are teachers using in their literature for each other? I have a catalog from a company that is supposed to be "fantastic" but I can’t read it. I tell them that I want to buy something to help my kid with reading and I’m willing to pay good money for it--but apparently you have to have a decoder ring or know the secret handshake! If anyone is a good teacher out there who knows something about this and can speak/write normal English, please guide me! Thanks!

Discussions - 3 Comments

Have you looked at the homeschool web sites? There are quite a few phonics programs, the Spalding method has nice flashcards, Alpha-phonics is pretty straight-forward. There are books for dyslexics - I am not suggesting your child is dyslexic, just that the books are very good for finding another approach to teaching reading, and often teach by syllable or word-families.

The Bob books are very good, and fun, perhaps as an adjunct to your current readers.

If your child is putting sounds together to make words, you are making progress.

I would also suggest the homeschool websites (and catalogs). Most of this stuff was written by parents for parents, so it doesn’t need to resort to jargon and edu-babble.
This website might have what you are looking for:
beginning reading

I played two or three games with my brood (I’ve taught five of our seven how to read thus far).

With one I just used a whiteboard and marker or a metal cookie sheet and magnetic letters. I’d make a word in a word family the child should know, and then change the first letter and have her read it. Then it would be her turn to change the first letter (or blend) and have *me* read it. Later we’d change the ending sounds. They enjoyed trying to stump Mom, and they enjoyed being the ’teacher.’ They never realized they had to do more work when they had to form the words for me to read because they still had to sound things out to figure out the words to use to stump me.
Nonsense words were allowed, they just had to be words that could be sounded out.

I also wrote lists of words in each new word family on index cards, along with a handful of cards like ’I, a, be, is, was.

I’d pick a few cards and make a short sentence of them (we usually did this on the floor) for the child to read. Then it would be her turn to choose some words for me to read.
The product was never great literature, but my kids enjoyed it. We started with very short sentences and then would go back and forth making new ones that added to the ’story.’ We had silly stuff like "The fat cat did sit on Dad’s hat. The hat is flat. Dad is mad. Run, Cat! The cat hid in a vat." Then we moved on to words with digraphs and diphthongs.

I would suggest my (ever expanding) Aamzon Listmania lists on homeschooling (meant for Christian homeschooling, but applicable for a variety of situations) here, here, and here.

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