Thursday, April 05, 2007

I give up

As you may know, I am quite frustrated with the way our local primary school is teaching my 1st grader how to read (as in, they aren't teaching her).

Two months ago, I went to the school and lobbied to get her in the after school tutoring program, hoping that it would help catch her up.

Tuesday, when I picked her up from tutoring I asked what she had learned. Here is what she told me.

"We learned how to look at pictures to figure out words."

Hopefully, all of her text books in the future have lots and lots of pictures. Does anyone know where I can get a comic book version of Charlotte's Web?


Marc said...

I feel your pain. It was at that point that I pulled my daughter out of public school and put her in private. I know that's not always an option, and I wish you luck. I suggest picking up a copy of Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Engelmann.

allen said...

Probably a better suggestion then mine which is "Why Johnny Can't Read" the last third of which consists of word lists. Still, it worked fine for me.

If you want a really terrific reason to hate whole word/language I suggest dropping by an adult literacy organization some time. You won't have to imagine how illiteracy will blight your daughter's life. Examples come shambling in every day.

If I were to level a criticism at phonics it's that phonics is inherently boring. Mind-numbingly boring. Like practicing scales by the hour on a piano.

The solution is to get off the phonics as soon as the student starts to get the drift, that the written language is a code. Once they understand that it's off to the races. Unfortunately, that sort of individualization is anathema in public schools. It takes six months to complete phonics instruction whether it takes six days or six years for a given kid.

readaholic said...

Here's something that's more engaging for the child than 100 Easy Lessons (though I swear by that too):

It's based on sound research including DI. There are lots of links there to peer-reviewsed articles (pretty technical stuff). The most important thing -- it works, kids love it, and they become enthusiastic readers. The parent needs to monitor (and providing additional practice with decodable text is good too). Headsprout teaches kids to sound out words, tells them "don't guess!" and builds fluency and orthographic memory. It's pretty reasonable too (comes with a moneyback guarantee-- how many ed products do that?). My nephew, a struggling second grader (scored at the kindergarten level in middle second grade) came up to third grade level in only two months. He just didn't know how to sound out words and was trying to do all those stupid things they are teaching your daughter.

Try it for 30 days, you've got nothing to lose. The customer support is excellent too.

Jim said...

I've got an even better suggestion: pop in an Electric Company DVD. The old public television series is now available on dvd and to my surprise, my kids love it! They think it's a blast.

It is chock full of phonics-type lessons that are appropriate for K thru 2nd grade. For better or worse, they'll never get the songs out of their heads either. Just like mom & dad never did ;)