Why am I Writing this Blog?

I am very concerned about the growing level of illiteracy among our children. This blog is for parents who are homeschooling, parents whose children are falling behind at school and they don't know how to help them, teachers who would like to bounce ideas off an experienced teacher or get ideas to help student with problems. I will do everything in my power to help anyone in the areas of reading and writing.

In this blog I'll be using the original English spelling forms, so please make allowances if you're American or have been taught the American spelling form.

Please be understanding about the advertisements on the blog. It gives me the opportunity to earn a little to add to my pension.

Related links for teaching training, lesson plans and worksheets:

Fantastic Free Video series on how to teach handwriting:
by handwriting expert Nan Jay Barchowsky
by handwriting teacher Matt Nisjak

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: http://www.handwritingebooks.com/
101 sheets of lower case and 101 of upper case letters, plus a bonus book on numbers and another on words for $5.95 for the lot - A great bargain.

Information on Education and Homeschooling
EducationBug: Education Directory - articles, directory, newsletter and profiles on schools

Free Worksheets:
Eastside Literacy
First - Schools

Lined Handwriting Sheets:
Handwriting For Kids

Making Handwriting Sheets:
Handwriting Worksheets
Ed Helper

Videos About Teaching Handwriting:
Teachers TV

Free Lessons and Ideas:
The Electric Company
First 55 Come Alive
Literacy, Families and Learning
ESL Partyland

Ed Helper - Spelling
Ed Helper - Reading Comprehension
Ed Helper - Vocabulary
First - School
Sites for Teachers
Sites for Parents
Clipart for Worksheets
The Teacher's Corner
Teaching Made Easier
School Express

Membership Sites:
Ed Helper
Reading A-Z
ELSIE: Reading 0-6

Inexpensive Handwriting Books
Staidens Homeschooling

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Teaching Reading and Writing when Concepts have not Developed

Teach the basics. That's the really important thing. If your child hasn't developed the concept of sounds linking together to form words and can't even seem to hear the sounds within a word, you concentrate on giving her the basic tools that she can use when the concept does develop.

Teach the single sounds of the alphabet (please teach her to write Q as 'qu'). This means teaching the sounds themselves not the names of the sounds. If she watches Sesame Street, she'll hear the names of the sounds. It's important for her to realise that each sound has both a name and a sound, but it's the sounds that we use when sounding out words. The vowels a,e,i,o,u are the exception. It's fine at this time to teach her that the sounds are formed into two groups - consonants and vowels. To remember the vowels I often use this sentence - A E IOU $5 (Ay E I Owe You $5).

As you're teaching her the sounds, begin to teach her simple words on flash cards. As you teach each one, sound it out for her. It's great if she can learn the sounds eg. run = r-u-n. When the concept clicks in, she'll have all this great information behind her to use the concept immediately and she'll feel so CLEVER.

At the same time, teach her to write each sound. Please make sure that she is forming her letters in the right way. When she's forming the letters, it's important that she start at the right point and finish at the right point. Firstly, it will be clearer to read. Secondly, if she doesn't do this, she will have to relearn the correct method of forming the letter, before she can progress to cursive writing. Letters join together in only one way and if she's not beginning and ending them at the right point, she won't be able to join the letters together properly later on.

In learning to write the sounds, repetition through supervised practice is the key. Immediate feedback for the child is essential to correct any errors, even little ones, before they become habit. Many children will want to write their letters in the way that is easiest for them. They don't see the value of doing it in a particular way. As long as it looks right in the end, they don't see any problem.

The intervention must be as she's writing the sound. If she's not watched carefully during her practice, she may revert to what's easiest for her. If the correction is done later, three problems will be encountered. There will often be no way to tell which way the letters have been formed. Every time the student forms the letters the wrong way, that habit becomes stronger and harder to break. The student will feel that she is being punished unfairly when she has to rewrite the lesson.

Once that's done, progress to teaching the sounds made up of more than one letter, such as the 'oa' of boat, the 'ay' of day, the 'ai' of mail, etc. As you teach these, introduce three or four letter words that have these sounds. On flash cards, write the word and underline the diagraph (sounds of more than one letter), so that she learns to see the diagraph as one sound. She'll get used to the look of the sound and it will help later with spelling.

Lastly, when you read books to her, make sure she can see the page and, as you read, follow the words with your finger. It will help her to realise that stories are made by puting words together. That's another concept that needs to develop.

I hope this isn't too much information at once. Just take it one step at a time. It's important that both your student and you are relaxed. If you're uptight, she will be as well and it will severely limit her ability to take in information. If the atmosphere becomes tense, take a break. Go and get the mail together, have a snack, play with the dog for five minutes - anything that will relax the situation.

Don't push on if she get's really upset because she's not understanding - all parents know the signs with their own child. Go on to something else and come back to that particular thing, when you sense that she's able to cope with it again. Put it off till the next day or the day after, if that's necessary. There's no rush.

One last point. Make jokes, say outrageous things, have a good laugh. Laughter is a wonderful relaxer and when your student is relaxed, her mind is more open to learning. It also helps her to look forward to the times. Try to put aside the time to give her your whole attention. Make it your special time together and in between teaching certain things have little chats with her about her day. Tell her something that happened to you. It's a great opportunity to bond.

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