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

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Phonics changes the structure of the brain - enhances intelligence

I was about to put this article in the Education News section, but decided that it was far to good to have it rotate out of my blog, so here it is. It was written by Shannah B Godfrey and published in the Examiner.com. I often put articles from this source in the Education News section and would recommend its Family and Parenting section to anyone with school or preschool aged children.

A research team headed by scientists from the esteemed Yale School of Medicine announced in 2004 a particularly significant finding for children who have trouble learning to read. It was reported by Gilbert Zarate in the Brownsville Herald: http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/opinions_more.php?id=61072_0_11_0_C

The focus of this study, as much of the writing on this topic, is on how to assist struggling readers. While struggling readers show us what the critical issues are, children who are not struggling will be able to learn much more, much quicker, if they are also given exposure to the best teaching practices. Unfortunately, as is commonly the case, teachers leave good students to fend for themselves on the mistaken assumption that they don’t need help.

Mom and Dad can and should do things at home to enhance their child’s learning and intelligence.In the words of the reporter:“The study reported that the brain function of poor readers actually changes to resemble the brain function of “good” readers when they have been taught to read through instruction that is direct, systematic, and focuses on the sounds and letters that make up words, the meanings of words, and helping children read accurately and quickly.

"Using functional MRI scanners, researchers were able to document that effective reading instruction not only improves reading ability but actually changes the brain’s functioning so children can read more efficiently. These struggling readers were taught to read using a comprehensive reading program that focused on systematically teaching phonemic awareness, phonics, reading fluency, vocabulary and spelling and, as a result, formed new and lasting neurological connections and pathways in parts of their brain that regulate reading ability.
"We know that almost every child in America — whatever race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic level — can become a strong and confident reader when taught through a comprehensive approach grounded in systematic, research-based instruction. And we know that scientifically based reading instruction can be successfully implemented in all schools — whether urban, suburban, or rural.

"Unfortunately, the reality today is that nearly 40 percent of fourth-grade students are unable to read at grade level. While many policymakers, educators and parents are enthusiastic about teaching children to read, not all schools and school districts are implementing instruction grounded in scientific approaches that have been proven to increase reading skills. Despite what we know works, not all schools have put in place carefully developed, comprehensive reading programs that include research-proven instructional practices. This is a travesty.
"We know that reading instruction for struggling readers must be explicit, systematic, and allow sufficient time for student learning. We also know that the reading curriculum should include the five critical components that are fundamental to learning to read — phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and reading comprehension.”

So if the scientific evidence strongly proves that phonics instruction re-maps the brain for the better, why does the educational establishment, for the most part, continue to ignore the data and teach ineffective reading (and math) methods? Part of the answer may be found in the lobbying and monetary influence of textbook publishers, who follow fads for personal gain rather than true research results. Part of the answer may be found in the egos of some educational people pushing their own theories and agendas. Part of the answer can be found in the inertia and ennui of large government entities, schools, to resist change.

Whatever the factors, it is clear that parents must not let their gifted children be left to fend for themselves in school. Parents can follow the best practices of phonics reading instruction (and math instruction) with their children at home to ensure a great foundation for success.
Gifted children need exposure to many types of learning to be well-rounded. One of the best programs for kids is scouting. They start as young as 6 years and go until age 18. Scouting gives your child a sense of accomplishment. Being able to claim the rank of Eagle Scout on a résumé is a prestigious thing. To find information for a scout troop near your home, go to the Boy Scouts of America office near you. In the Kansas City area it is Council 307 – Heart of America Council, Boy Scouts of America, PO Box 414177, Kansas City, MO 64141. Phone: (816) 942-9333. http://www.hoac-bsa.org/ Girl Scouting will be discussed in the next article.
Author: Shannah B Godfrey

Shannah B Godfrey is an Examiner from Kansas City. You can see Shannah B's articles on Shannah B's Home Page.

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