Teaching Phonics and Reading is Fun and Oh So Easy! (It Is! Let Me Explain!)

At this time of the year some parents are being informed their child will likely be “retained”. That is a difficult message for any parent to hear. As a tutor, I can honestly tell you this is sometimes necessary, and sometimes not. As a result more and more families, including professional teachers, are turning to home schooling. Today’s schools cannot produce high school graduates who can compare favorably in knowledge and skills with the 8th grade graduates of the 1900’s.

Reading is the most important element of a child’s education. It is a precursor to every other subject. My elementary school teachers, avoided phonics altogether choosing to teach word recognition. As with most children who do not learn phonics. reading was difficult, and not enjoyable. I made good grades, but it took lots of extra effort on my part. It was not until adulthood that I learned phonics. I was amazed at how suddenly I advanced in my reading abilities. It is no wonder that most parent educators are very apprehensive as they first begin teaching their child to read. However, given a little knowledge, and the right tools, I guarantee you it is far easier than one might first expect. So let us begin that process in this article.

Learning Styles

Thirty Eight percent of children are “hands on learners” (Artisan Personality). Unfortunately, the school system does not effectively teach to this large group. They are often falsely labeled as Dyslexic, Attention Deficit or problem children. My oldest grandson was this personality type.

At an early age, he was eager to learn anything to do with hands on action… like riding his bike. Bumps and bruises did not deter him. He simply picked himself up, and went for the toy again and again until mastered. He showed a great degree of intelligence in this manner. However when he entered school, things appeared to be different. He took no interest in formal sit down learning. Like so many, he concluded: ‘if I cannot do something with it, it is a waste of my time”. One can learn more about this personality type in the book: “Please Understand Me II” by David Keirsey. He describes the “Artisan” personality as action oriented, and people who bring excitement to their relationships.” Churchill and Patton were of this personality type. In other words, these children are not unintelligent, dyslexic or ADD. On the contrary, they are very intelligent. It is the method of teaching that is lacking because it is not designed for action-oriented attention.

In third grade, I was visiting this grandchild in his class. He was taking a written test, and answering multiple-choice questions. He correctly did the first three, and then proceeded to mark the rest without reading them. I said to him, “doesn’t the teacher want you to read these?” “No, he replied, she doesn’t care.” Because he did not act up, this continued to repeat itself causing his mother to have to catch him up every summer. Finally, his mother removed him from the school system, and began home schooling.

In the School system, it is not uncommon for these action-oriented children to be held back every other year. I have been given such children at mid-term because the teachers had given up on them. Simply by changing the method used to teach them these kids catch up with their classmates, and graduated on time.

Sadly, the repeated failures of hands on learners are typical. If this is your child’s story, early learning curriculum needs to be action oriented.

Luckily, for my Grandson his mom found the answer. However many of these children reach adulthood without reaching their full potential because they believe themselves to be “not as smart as others”, which is so far from the truth, and is the biggest travesty of all.

We recommend learning be presented as play for young children because this the most natural way for them to learn. However the “Guardian Personality” adapts earlier than most to formal learning which is the most common method taught in public schools.. Likewise, the Guardian parents/ teachers prefer to teach in this manner. All children need to be gradually acclimated to “formal learning”. (Note: One may learn more about the Guardian personalities and others in the book, “Please Understand Me II” by David Keirsey). My Granddaughter is of the “Guardian Personality”. At a very early age she desired to help, and was enthusiastic about pointing out and following the rules at the frustration of her brother. My point here is that all children are different, and the school system does not usually consider this when they teach like one size fits all. We do not have to repeat that same mistake in the home school environment. Rather than deciding that a child must learn to read at five years of age, let them reveal to you their learning timetable and style.

For example, let me tell you a story about my second grandson. Koty (“Analytical Personality”) has never attended public school. His mother home schooled him from day one. She read to him regularly, and it was a fun time for them both. Once he learned his ABC’s she tried using flash cards to teach him phonics, which is a very unnatural way for most young children to learn. It quickly became a chore for both. I reminded her of a game I use to teach children to read. It changed everything. Koty quickly learned his phonic sounds, and begged to play more often than his mother desired. He was able to read the early reader books. He even sounded out difficult words like Premium at local gas stations as they played games of reading words while traveling. However, he had no desire to pick up a book and read by himself. Having read the book “Better Late than Early” by Raymond & Dorothy Moore, his mother continued reading to him. At the age of eight, he picked up a book, and asked his mother to read it for him. Not having the time at that moment, she declined. Impatient to wait for her, he began reading the book himself, and had an insatiable reading appetite thereafter. Within six months he was reading at a fifth grade level. We highly recommend the Book, “Better Late than Early” because it explains how important it is to adjust to a child’s natural tendencies rather than making him/ her fit into a square peg of our own design.

Whole Brain Teaching Verses Left Brain Teaching

The Conventional Method (workbooks, flashcards, lectures..sit down at a desk work) teaches to the left brain, and reaches about 45% of the children. However Whole Brain Teaching (“Total Physical Response”) teaches to all the learning styles by involving as many of the senses in the learning process as possible. With this method, children learn faster, retain more, reduces stress, and drop out rates decrease by 90%. It also improves the health of the brain making it a good method for those with learning disabilities.

As A Home Educator Can You Teach Your Child To Read?

It is a common belief that in order to teach reading one needs to have a teaching degree. In the 1900’s many teachers did not have high school diplomas, and the education was better than it is now. Alas, there is no magic: If you can read, you can teach children to read. Of course the right tools, and information are the key to success.

Important Notes:

(1) I t is important for your child to associate reading with phonics as soon as possible. Once they learn their first 8 sounds, they should be able to read their first early reader. As soon as they learn 6 more letters they should be able to read their second early reader… so on and so on.

(2) Many children learn some of their phonic sounds incorrectly causing them to be slow readers, or unable to blend the sounds to from words. As a tutor, I have found this common with computer phonics games, and in public schools. So it is important for the educator to make sure the sounds are learned correctly.