Thursday, March 21, 2013

Teaching Reading: I Happened Upon Some Tricks

Jonathan is in Year 2 for school and is reading a variety of readers for reading practice. His favorites to read are stories like Frog and Toad and Mouse Soup. He also reads a little out of one schoolbook each day, the line he will write for his copywork (as well as the rest of the sentence in which the line is contained), and any math instructions.

Right now in the rotation of main reading selections, he is in the Delightful Reader . He's reading the extra practice sentences which contain word-family words that come from the main words he learned during lesson time the previous two years when he mastered Rain, The Dogs and the Fox, etc. He finds the disjointedness of the practice sentences unsatisfactory since the contents of the sentences are often separate from one another instead of making story. To solve this problem, I began to give him a short background story before he read each sentence, explaining any words along the way that might be unfamiliar to him. So for a sentence like

"Use this to hook the squid." 

I ask him if he's ever seen a picture of a squid and to describe it for me. Then I might tell him that a father is out in a big boat teaching his teenage son how to catch deepwater fish (I have no idea if squid is a deep water animal or if you can catch it with a hook, but Jonathan will be sure to ask such questions and we can look up really interesting q's later if he wants to). Then I say, "As the father is teaching his son, he gives him these words of instruction....." 

And then Jonathan happily reads the sentence. This does not take as much time as you might think, since the background info can be as silly or involved as I want to make it, and it makes the time enjoyable for both of us. 

Phoebe is doing Kindergarten work this year. She's been an interesting child, she has. She can be fairly hyper, and if she happens to decide she doesn't want to do school that day, she's a tiny bit of struggle to work with. There are several ways we work with her attitude (which I won't get into here), but for reading, I happened upon a way to help her pay attention to the sounds in the word and put them together. She struggles with wanting to look at me to see what I will say or look around and just guess. 

Right now we're working through the section in Delightful Reading with short vowel words, long vowel words, and a few blends. She also sounds out her copywork words before copying them. What I discovered to be helpful was using a pointer (a pencil suffices or we might make a special pretty one so as to be fancy). I have her point to each sound while I say the sound. Then I take the pointer and point to each sound while she says the sound. Then she can take the pointer and slide it across the word to blend the sounds together. I think the action and using an extra device makes her have to look at the word and also gives her hands something to do while looking. 

As teachers and parents, you all realize how tough some problems can be to figure out. Your child is stuck, and you can't find a way to help them get past the issue. Sometimes you happen upon a solution seemingly out of the blue. At these times I thank God. He made our brains to figure out stuff like this, and I think He also cares enough to send us ideas if we need them. No worries. If He takes care of the birds of the air, our teaching issues can be unraveled with His help as well. 


  1. Lanaya, what you said in your last paragraph is so true. If we believe that teaching our children is something God has put on our heart then He will give us the wisdom we need to get the job done. Sometimes the temptation is to panic and invest in more resources when the solution is something quite simple & right beside us.

    1. Very true. It takes some trust, which isn't always easy.