*Throwback Thursday Post*
Recently, I hurt my back while vacuuming. I met with a spinal surgeon who told me that I could have surgery to try and correct the problem, but honestly at one year out from the injury his patients usually felt exactly the same whether they had the surgery or not. This reminded me of how many times I had heard that this reading program or that one was the best because it had worked for someone after nothing else had. Maybe it’s just a matter of some kids taking longer to internalize our complicated system of reading English, and the program that “worked” was just where the spinning arrow landed when fluency was achieved.
*Language Immersion: The Key to Good Readers*
Teaching Reading is a bit of a misnomer. At least in your mother tongue. It would be like saying you taught your child to talk. You spoke to your child, around your baby, and to others. You never actually took their lips to show them how to physically talk. They learned by listening to language. For the most part, it was up to them to get to communicate.
This is the most important skill and has no timetable. Parents who love a plan and a schedule should brace themselves. The more planning and scheduling makes you feel secure, the more likely it will be that you will have a kid that takes longer.
I think that in Kindergarten and first grade (hopefully before that too) the best plan is simply to immerse your child in language. Read, read, read aloud all the time. Don’t expect wiggly little ones to just sit raptly at attention (a few homeschooling catalogs come to mind here) provide crayons and paper, legos, action figures, swings, even a trampoline works. Listening doesn’t preclude movement.
Reading so much aloud will take some practice. I sometimes still get a sore throat from reading aloud all day. I have found that drinking some water or pineapple juice works well. As much as I love tea, caffeine dehydrates, and that doesn’t help you at all.
*Get Thee to the Library*
Once your child is reading at all- find them some books to read. Your library should have a set of phonetically controlled readers. Usually, these are not the best plotwise, and I like to move away from them as quickly as we can. Kids raised in a literature-rich environment will initially be thrilled to read aloud all alone, but mine soon wanted a “real story.” I ended up writing some silly sentences that continued into a story on a whiteboard.
What if you are starting late? The kid in question is 10 or 11? Even older? You’ll be amazed just how hearing stories helps literacy and comprehension.Audio books are the best way to keep your kid up on all the age appropriate literature. No one cares whether you read Harry Potter yourself, had a parent read it to you, or listened to it. They just care what house you think you’d be sorted into. Priorities, people. With late readers come to an extra sense of urgency to find their “kind” of Lit.
A note about using the library: Knowing what section you want to look in is critical. One of the things I like best about the library is the browsing factor. It is similar to the bookstore experience, only you can leave without buying anything and still go home with an armload of books. Finding the section or sections of interest will open the floodgates to literacy. Hopefully, you’ve actually met this kid that you want to help start reading. Think about their hobbies. Are they arts and crafty? Get yourself over to the DIY section (700’s) of the library. Nonfiction reading is still reading. Have a kid who streams Once Upon A Time and Grimm endlessly? Get thee to section 398.
Learn how to transport large amounts of books home from the library. You’ll either want a rolling cart or some kind of huge tote bag. I used to use a laundry basket occasionally. In most cases, it is just that easy.