Friday, January 15, 2010

Do you read me?

So I have been thinking about topic a lot. My son who turns five at the end of this month is a budding reader. He is showing signs of getting ready to read and looks forward to story time every night. He knows some sight words and sometimes tries to sound things out. It is what I have been waiting for. I am so excited for him to discover all he can through reading and share in my love for reading.

I have always felt like ages 4-6 is a natural time for children to learn how to read, but lately there has been some buzz about teaching children to read earlier. There are even programs being sold by infomercials to teach your baby to read. From the infomercials I have watched, this program proposes that the earlier you introduce reading, the sooner and the easier it is for the brain to make pathways and connections for reading.

To off set that, my sister-in-law who is an orthodox Waldorf educator has introduced me to a school of thought focused on NOT encouraging children to read until 6 or 7. She says that teaching children to read at an earlier age can compromise physical and organ development.

I have a 16 month and like I mentioned before, an almost five year old. I wonder...should I really be teaching my baby to read or not encouraging my older son to read?

I have no special degree in education or child development, so up to this point I have just stuck with what I know. I  have tended to lean toward the middle road between the parties. My theory is to read to my children and let them tell me when they are ready to read. I have a friend who was teaching her 4/5 year old to read and while doing so, her 3 year old picked it up too. She wasn't drilled, especially prepped...she was ready. I believe reading should be fun and not forced or discouraged. But...what do you think?

I would like to open this up to discussion.

Please let me know if you have used the Your Baby Can Read program? Did you like it? Why?

Do you delay reading in favor of physical development? Why?

What are you thoughts on reading and teaching reading? 

What methods have you used to teach reading? 

Do you have special ways to teach reading to a child who may not naturally like it? Have you had a child like that?

Thanks for your input!


Jessie said...

I am a big fan of letting your child dictate what they learn. My older daughter loves to learn new things, and has absolutely thrived on education. My younger daughter, on the other hand, is much more physical, and interested in hands-on activities. I don't think we can say one way or the other is better for everyone, because kids can be so different, even within one family.

That being said, I have used the Your Baby Can Read program (Usborne books used to sell it, and I was a consultant), and I really liked it. My oldest daughter has always picked things up quickly, so we were constantly searching for new things to teach her. We got the program at Christmas, when she was about 20 months old, and by the time she turned 2, she was "reading" probably 50 words. She started to lose interest with the actual program (and I had another baby, so less time to work with her) shortly after her birthday, so she stopped memorizing new words. We did, however, continue to read to her, and encourage her to notice the similarities between words, which is really where the program focuses, and as a result, she can actually sound out words when she wants to (she's almost 4 now, and is more and more interested in this). I don't want to push her, because I want her to naturally develop a love for reading, so we just read to her when she wants it, and encourage her to read things on her own, as well.

We've tried a few times to start the program with our younger daughter, but like I said, she is a much more physical child, and doesn't have the patience to sit and watch a show most of the time. We'll try again in the future, I'm sure, but as it is--I am more than happy to let her learn things in other ways, as she isn't even 2 yet.

On The Go Family said...

I'm with Jessie -- what's worked best for us is letting our kids call the shots on when they are ready for certain tasks. Our 5-year-old (turned five in Sept) started recognizing certain sight words toward the end of her fourth year and now at five and a couple months, she can read almost anything. There's no more spelling words in front of her or passing notes because she can decipher it all!

Our 3-year-old is a boy and is much more physically-oriented. He's not as into letters and numbers as his sis was and isn't doing any writing yet (though our daughter was writing her name by about 3.5). I haven't pushed it with him. He's a lefty, so I figure handwriting will be harder for him, and he's just not into it right now. But he is much stronger at puzzles (doing 50-60 piece puzzles already), and better coordinated with large motor skills than our daughter was at this age. They simply have different interests. We'll wait 'til our son shows interest before we start to push the reading/writing any more.

Universitybabe said...

A couple of things I have found. A child can only learn what they have the patience to sit for. So I maximize on their 2 or 3 minutes. Sometimes we do letters, sometimes sight words. sometimes we just read. I once told a friend that I parent very intentionally. When I do something I usually have two or three or more reasons for doing it. When you read test the kids (Believe it or not in first grade they will be asked if they recognize when words, and pictures are upside down.) Repitition is HUGE. If books (most kids books do) have a line, phrase or sentence that is repeted stop and let the kids fill it in. Point to words as you read them to show that the letters and words have meaning. YOu can increase that to having them read the single leter words. Use comprehension questions to build reading skills. More ideas if you want them;-) As for me and my 4 kids, They absorbe things like water. When they started recognizing letters I started playing games with three letter words. Then, I figured there was no reason they couldn't start helping me read scriptures. I buy each of my children a blue Book of Mormon and give them a colored pencil. If they know a few and are ready they hunt out sight words. If not that ready I let them hunt out letters. Once they are coloring about 1/3 of the words in a verse we start from the beginning and read one verse at a time--them reading the words that have been colored (sometimes I need to remind that they do know that word) and me reading the rest to them. When the kids seem pretty solid on what they do know (words or letters or even most of a verse) I increase it by one more. I have really liked this because they get their scripture time like mommy, plus when we go to church on Sunday they are not just idly coloring or playing with pictures they are concentrating a little harder and focus a little more and disrupt a little less.
Now, a note. It is an often quoted theory in school that kids will all even out between 3rd and 5th grade. Those that come reading will be in about the same place as those that don't know their letters. So there is no hurry. If all you do is get them to recognize the letters in their name you and they are headed in the right direction. I don't force my kids to sit and learn to read but I don't think there is anything wrong with encouraging and even initiating a desire to read. Reading makes other learning more accessable so it is very important to me and there are opportunities to read all around us in the community. Unless a child has been severly critisized in reading attempts I have not found a child who won't like reading something that they are interested in. It may be comics, it may be science text, it may be fiction or non fiction, it may have lots of pictures or no pictures but if you can clue in to the likes of your child they are usually pretty open to opening the book. If they see how much you love reading they will wonder what is so cool about it that you like it so much. (My first (5) is reading most things, my second (3) is almost as far as the first because she wanted to do what #1 was doing. My third, (2) is working on letters he can draw a T and an a but he is still working on recognizing letters. My baby (9 months) is just getting time to share the stories that we read aloud and play with the books that we leave out for him. As an elementary teacher one of my biggest suggestions is get the books into their fingers. If that only happens when they are on your lap fine. But don't let them grow up strangers to books.

Megan said...

My husband and I tried the Your Baby Can Read DVDS, but after the first disc, Lucas lost interest. He didn't want to sit still and watch the DVD, so we didn't push it. However, I do try and read to him every day. He generally picks a couple of books and we sit down and read them. I think, like what has been mentioned, that your child will tell you when they are ready to be pushed to read. If they are recognizing letters and sight words, then it probably is time to really push them in their reading.

Raylynk said...

I graduated in FCHD...I had many classes on early childhood and also worked in the preschool up on campus (I learned wonderful ideas from many great teachersup there). You definatley do not want to teach your baby to read in a formal matter, and videos being one of them. You just integrate books, letters, and other word related items into daily life. Reading to your child is excellent, having books and magazines in your childs play area is great, label things and read them to your child, letter stamps, letter magnets, letter die cuts, newspapers etc. are a good way to let your child explore letters..they can use them to make art and other fun things. Make a journal with your child (ages 3&up) write what they want you to write in them and then read it back to them. Label their art if they want. Put different writing utensils (there are so many) and paper in their play they can make menus, lists,etc. Reading and writing go hand in hand. These are all ideas to build the foundation of reading. Then when it comes to the time that your child is showing you that they want to can go for it. Reading is suppose to be fun, not work. If you start to early you can frustrate your child and burn them out before they even get to school. People think the sooner your child is educated the better off they will be, this is so not true (gimmicks to make you buy their stuff). Children learn through play, so we really just need to let them be kids. Here's a good book that might help you on this topic: Einstein Never Used Flash Cards by Kathey Hirsh-Pasek, Roberta Michnick Golinkoff and Diane Eyer. I heard Kathey speak at a early childhood conference and she was great! I hope this helps:)

JeriLynn said...

I used to sell Usborne books, which was one of the first to sell the Your Baby Can Read program. I have met a woman with five children, four of which did learn to read with that program. However, she started it basically right away-- before the baby had a choice to look away from the tv.