July 27, 2011

add on to "I'm reading"

I've had a few questions as to when to start teaching how to read. Answer: whenever you think your child is ready without squashing their innate love of books.

In other words, all kids want to read. If books are a natural part of life and are cherished as an everyday activity, kids will eventually want to know what those darn words say! For some, this desire comes at 2 or 3. For others, not until 5 or 6. In Finland (where they have some of the highest reading scores in the world) they don't teach "how to read" until age 7. But what they do do (uh oh, I must have poo on the brain...) is read read read read read to their kids. Kids will pick up on inflection and certain sights words simply from hearing and seeing them over and over.

When I first started playing the letter/sound game with Avila she was so. not. interested. She would say an automatic NO every time I started to say "what sound does..." About every other day I would ask again, without pushing, and once she started playing along we made it fun. And then everything was a natural progression after that. Nothing forced - just fun and rewarding.

Avila has always picked up things quick - after once or twice hearing them. But I'm also prepared for our other children to have different needs. Maybe Max doesn't learn how to read until he's way older. But that's OK. We recognize that we don't need our kids to be super smart or the best at everything - we just want them to love learning and love life and love figuring things out.

As a teacher, the biggest thing I would recommend is to read out loud to your kids, even until they hit high school and beyond! When I taught 3rd grade, it wasn't until I started reading aloud to my kids books like "Little House on the Prairie", "Holes", and "Shiloh" that some of my most reluctant readers finally enjoyed reading again. I started doing this for fun, and when I realized the impact it was having we would add crafts and learning activities into the mix, and my kids' reading scores soared.

I'll update as we continue along in our quest for learning and once we begin more formal schooling in the fall. I'm excited to have little Avila as my guinea pig and I'm really excited to discover what I learn along the way!

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