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Mary Pride Speaks Out, Building Confidence in Reading

By Heather Idoni

Added Friday, January 11, 2008

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 9 No 3 January 11, 2008
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2008 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net

Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook!
If you like this newsletter, please recommend it to a friend!




Notes from Heather
-- Mary Pride Speaks Out
Helpful Tips
-- Sandpaper Alphabet Craft
Winning Website
-- Ace Writing with Professor Pen
Reader Question
-- Building Confidence in Reading
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

Mary Pride Speaks Out Politically for the First Time


Keeping my "notes" brief today as we have a packed-full news-
letter with lots of great replies to our reader question!

Here is a link a reader sent me -- Mary Pride just wrote this
regarding the positions of both Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul
on homeschooling.



Do you have comments to share? Please do!
Send your emails to: heather@familyclassroom.net



Helpful Tip

Fun Alphabet Learning Craft Project

"When I was very young my mother cut alphabet characters out of
sandpaper. My sister and I put them under blank paper and
coloured over them with crayon. We loved the patterned effect
of the finished words." -- Irene (HomeschoolingBOYS.com group)


Do you have an idea, experience, or tip to share? Please write!
Send to: HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net

Winning Website

Ace Writing - http://www.geocities.com/fifth_grade_tpes/index.html

Join Professor Pen for lots of neat tips for students and teachers.
Authored by a 5th grade teacher, this site has ideas and activities
to strengthen children’s writing including common errors, making
writing more descriptive, how to write a five paragraph essay,
editing, the writing process and much more. A good site for mom to
visit and then select from activities to have her children complete
on or offline.

-- Cindy - www.HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com

Last Issue's Reader Question

I have an almost-6-year-old kindergartner we just pulled from
private school and started homeschooling. He loves all of the
subjects except for reading and writing. He knows his letters
and basic phonics, but balks when it comes to reading out loud,
sounding out new words, and writing. He is VERY self-aware when
it comes to making mistakes and would rather just not try than
to make a mistake. Please help! Does anyone have any tips on
how to help build his self-confidence in these two subjects?"
-- Christin C. in PA

Our Readers' Responses

"Your child sounds exactly like my now 8 year old. I have
struggled with her in reading and writing from the very first day
that she started homeschooling. She actually prefers the more
analytical subjects like math and science. If you'll notice,
most people gravitate either to the literary arts, or to math
and science -- rarely both. When I started learning about
Charlotte Mason methods just a few months ago, I found that her
technique of using copywork and 'living' books has worked like
magic with my little girl. We copy Bible verses that she is
memorizing for church; we copy short poems that she can use to
make greeting cards for others. We do a little bit of dictation,
where I read a sentence or short poem slowly for her, and she is
to at least attempt to sound out the words and write them. The
first few days of this kind of work were very tearful, because
she didn't think that she could do it, but after about a week she
started working very happily. The copywork in itself has improved
her reading, spelling and penmanship dramatically in a very short
time. I would say that we have actually been doing this for three
months, and I have noticed that she now writes more beautifully
and even spells a little bit better than peers her age. Also, the
trick is do just a little bit each day. Don't burden the child
with too much at one time, because it seems to backfire. Don't
give your children enough to make them tired. One short poem, one
dictation, one or two Bible verses is all that we do for the day
-- and not all at the same time. If she asks me to read to her,
I will ask her to help. This means that I will read some of the
book, and she will read some. She doesn't always read more than
a page, but she has to make an effort. We don't use textbooks,
we use stories and poetry that she enjoys. Before we started
doing this, she would not even think about trying to write or
read anything independently. Now she is always trying to make
little notes for me and her daddy, grocery lists, lists of phone
numbers of her friends and family, and has learned that she can
read almost anything if she just sits down and takes it one word
at a time. I no longer pressure her, but just let her give it a
try -- and the benefits have been astounding. You can Google
Charlotte Mason to find lots of information about what I am doing.
It's not a new idea, but a very old one that would reform education
forever if the schools would give it a try." -- Laurel S.


"I would start way below his actual ability level, keep it short,
and work on topics he is interested in. Motivation and feeling
competent are key here." -- Andra J.


"He sounds just like my 8-year-old daughter. I wish I had a magic
solution for you, but I can only offer some encouragement. Stick
with it -- some people say certain children aren't ready to read
until 8 anyway. Some of my other children were late readers and
they caught up quickly. One thing that did seem to help for us was
trying to find easy reading books that she could build confidence
with. I finally bought books reprinted from the old Dick and Jane
series. I know lots of people knock these, but for us it was great
to see something she WANTED to read out loud. The vocabulary is
very repetitive, so it gave her confidence that she could get it
right. You should also do some research on learning styles. As
much as we all know phonics is a great approach to reading, some
kids are just whole language learners. My daughter really seems to
see words more as a unit than as individual letters. We have had
good success with writing words on index cards and letting her draw
a picture that she feels represents the word. We go through them
as flash cards daily and I let her use them to choose from in
completing her weekly spelling assignments (find a word that rhymes
with..., etc). Then when she encounters these words in reading,
she remembers them. I would advise patience and fun encouragement.
You might also try some fun reading software or videos. If he
realizes that you are stressing about it, the situation is likely
to get worse. He has plenty of time." -- Lori


"I have heard many parents in this newsletter talk about reading
and their children hating it. What I did for my granddaughters was
to label everything in the house. They know the names for chair,
refrigerator, door, etc. Labeling them helps to be able to see
how the letters are arranged and you can help him with the sounds
of the letters. It made the girls want to learn more, and we
weren't even homeschooling at that time! I didn't take them out
of public school until they were in 2nd and 3rd grades. I pray
for your success!" -- Jan in Missouri


"I highly suggest the book 'Better Late Than Early' by Dr. Raymond
and Dorothy Moore. In this book, the Moores explain that children,
and particularly boys, often do not develop the cognitive skills
to read fluently until close to nine years old. Although they can
sound out words individually, it is difficult for them to put words
together and read fluently.

RELAX - Read to him, read to him, read to him!!! Continue to read
aloud to him daily. If you are reading a book on his level, alter-
nate reading a sentence, a line or even a word to encourage success
and build his confidence. Have him tell the story back to you or
stop during the story and have him orally make up the ending. Let
him draw a picture from the story you are reading. Write down his
endings or stories for him. All of this will help him develop the
skills necessary for reading.

Reading will come in time. Several of my children (I have five,
ages 11-22, all homeschooled) progressed from laboriously sounding
out every word, to reading fluently, in only one school year --
usually when they were eight or nine years old. It just kicked in
and took off!

Also, do not compare your son to other children! Some kids read
at three years of age but that is not the norm. You chose to
homeschool so that your son can progress at his own pace. Slow
and steady wins the race! It will happen!" -- Ginger


"We use 'Spalding Method: The Writing Road to Reading' with much
success. My 6 year old is learning to read, but only at the pace
with which she truly comprehends the letter, encodes the sounds,
and can decode the sound in it's natural placement in a word.
This is a very thorough system and will never have a child afraid
to read aloud, as it does not require the child to read aloud until
he or she is really aware of the letters. Most reading of books
takes place in second and third grades, with true phonics (memoriz-
ing all 72 phonomes that compose the English language and their
rules for use). True phonics is rarely used in the schools, and
many homeschoolers have successfully used The Writing Road to Read-
ing with much success. I got the book off of ebay for $7. You can
use it right away with children understanding the English language
with a full comprehension by grade 4. It is a 1st-4th program."
-- Mary-Robin


"It is probable that your son's brain is not ready to make the
leap to reading at this point in time. I used 'Teach Your Child
to Read in 100 Easy Lessons' with my oldest two starting at ages
5 and 4. (20 minutes a day, all self contained in one book.)
When I encountered resistance or tears, I found that if I backed
up a few lessons that my kids regained their enthusiasm and con-
fidence, and were usually ready to move ahead by the time we got
back to the spot at which we had stopped. In the case of my elder
child, we only had to back up a couple of lessons, but the younger
(who I started early as it was coinciding with his speech therapy)
I had to go back about 15 at one point. Reading is a lot like
swimming (which I also taught for many years.) Kids just don't
have the coordination and strength to do it until age 5 or 6, and
sometimes later. Reading requires the brain to have a certain
development, which unfortunately is not as visible as the coordi-
nation needed for swimming. Go back to what he is confident doing,
then slowly work your way forward. It will do wonders for his
confidence, and your patience as well!

If after reviewing things are not progressing, get his eyes checked.
You mentioned that your son doesn't like writing, which can be an
issue of not having the motor skills necessary to hold and move the
pencil (my son also has these issues - no interest in drawing or
writing unless I push it - and is getting occupational therapy to
help.) When you get his eyes checked, see if they can check to see
if he is tracking well - eyes are a fine motor skill, and some kids
need extra help to get the eyes tracking together so that they can
read the words on the page. (The eyes may be able to handle a
single letter, but are unable to focus long enough to do a whole
word.) Good luck, and remember that despite that the schools cur-
rently want all kids to read in kindergarten, many are not reading
until the end of first grade." -- Cheryl


"Kristin -- May I call to your attention the reading and writing
issue? Not all children are ready to read and write at 6. Relax,
he will read when he is ready. As parents we want the best for our
children. We also have it in our heads that our child might get
behind. When he finally starts to read (unless there is a reading
barrier like dyslexia) he will quickly 'catch up' with those who
read at his age. You may also be surprised that he can actually
(and this a strong possiblity) teach himself to read.

If your child likes music and likes to sing, I would suggest the
program 'Sing, Spell, Read and Write'. They learn sounds and
rules by singing them, and there are nice visuals, rewards, etc.
as well. Children are drawn to music and it helps them relax and
learn rather than simply memorizing and then trying to read. It
worked well with my daughter. She reads very well now, and started
to read with expression in 1st grade.

Be sure to read to your child, with expression, as he looks at the
book as much as you are able. This may spur an interest in wanting
to know what some words mean. I wish you much success."
-- Debra in TN


"We've homeschooled since 1991, graduating 3 so far. In my humble
opinion, instead of focusing on having your son try to read, spend
the remainder of this school year and through the summer reading TO
him. Help fire a love of books in him. Help him to want to spend
time with books/Bible. Then, next year, when he is older, slowly
begin sounding out again. Maybe you'll see that again, he's not
ready. Be patient and above all, keep reading to him. It will
'click' when he is developmentally ready." -- Linda in OK


"Keep learning fun and easy for little ones. Play games, give lots
of encouragement, break things down into small steps and practice,
practice, practice. Help him to be successful. If you do formal
lessons, always begin and end lessons with something he enjoys
doing and can do well. Keep lessons short and simple and stop
before he gets tired. You have a lot of time to cover the basics
if he already knows his letters and sounds at age five.

Peggy Kaye’s books have lots of fun games for learning that only
require a few items you probably already have in your home.

Many little boys do not like writing. I use Learning Resources
magnetic letter tiles on a whiteboard with my little ones to prac-
tice spelling. Only require a little bit of writing at a time and
make sure he knows how to form his letters properly. If you rush
little ones they will develop bad habits that you will have to
break later on. I know this from personal experience! Don't be
afraid to give support where he needs it. He will write when he's
ready. I didn't think my son would ever write but now he loves to
write in cursive!

When you practice reading, choose books with a high number (about
90-95%) of words he already knows, or choose high-interest books
and only have him read some of the words. Pick out some words he
knows and point to them and have him read when you get to them in
the text. Rhyming books work well for this. Or alternate reading
sentences with him. It can be daunting for little ones to have to
read an entire book. If you work a little at a time, he will even-
tually read whole books, but it may be too much right now.

I have a six-year-old daughter who does not like to make mistakes.
I have to give her a lot of encouragement to stick with her lessons
sometimes. I am careful to introduce things in small steps and
make sure she can be successful. I have to remind her that we
learn best from our mistakes! She likes to practice on her own
instead of being in front of me. So I provide her with lots of
lined paper and pencils and give her access to the computer. She
likes to play games at www.starfall.com. She also has a 3x5 file
box with alphabetical dividers that we have filled with 'special'
CVC words, at least one beginning with each letter of the alphabet.
She enjoys typing the words on the computer.

We've been homeschooling for five years and I'm still learning
myself. Give yourself some slack to make mistakes, too!

I hope this gives you some ideas!" -- Jenn


"Our town has a reading program at our local library, called 'PAWS
to READ'. It allows emerging and reluctant readers to sit with a
trained therapy dog and it's handler and practice reading out loud
to a dog! The dogs are wonderful and non-judgmental. My 9 year
old son, who loves dogs more than people, has been attending the
program for 1 year, and has made amazing progress where nothing
else seemed to encourage him. If you have a Therapy Dog program
in your area, you could suggest such a program, or even if you
know of someone who has a mild-mannered dog, perhaps you could ask
the owner if they and the dog would sit with your child and listen
to him read aloud. The dog owner can help sound out words or
explain the meaning of a word if asked, but the main idea is that
the child is reading to the dog. The sessions are just 15 or 20
minutes each, and the child chooses any book to read. Or if some-
one likes cats, maybe that could work too - or even a hamster or
guinea pig! The idea is the child doesn't feel self-conscious
reading to an animal." -- Shelley in Ontario, Canada


"My advice is this -- give him success. Get books for him to read
in which you know he knows all the words or their are only a few
he does not know. I do not know what curriculum or program you
are using for language/phonics but especially this young he needs
to see that he can do it and he may need a break from the pressure
of reading and phonics altogether for a month or so. It is ok if
he doesn't learn everything this year. You have many more years
ahead of you to teach him.

Secondly, I suggest making your lessons short, no matter what you
are doing. If you child knows he only has to work on his reading
for 15 minutes and then no matter what he has gotten accomplished
he will be done, he may be more willing to try and more willing to
work on it. You need to make it fun! Try getting a beginning
reader from the library on a subject he would like -- maybe base-
ball or some other sport or a science topic like snow, etc., or
you choose a pile of books from the shelves at the library that
would be on or under his reading level and tell him to choose two
or three he would like to take home and read.

Thirdly - Make sure you read to him everyday! Read books that are
way above his own reading level so he can enjoy listening to things
he cannot read yet. It will bring you both pleasure and it will
give him an idea of what is out there that he will be able to read
for himself in the future. Try 'Farmer Boy' - one of the Little
House books but about Almonzo, Laura Ingals Wilder's future husband.
My boys love it (the farm, the great things he gets to eat, the
horses, the trouble he gets into...) Read the classics, read pic-
ture books, read non-fiction (history and science) -- read, read,
read to him.

As far as writing goes I suggest copywork. Start with one sentence
a day. Type or write out exactly what you want him to write and
just have him copy it. Use anything you want -- short scripture
verses, lines from the books you are reading, favorite passages
copied one sentence a day. You need to give him success!

Kindergarten, and all of the early elementary school years, should
be fun and laid back. I suggest reading Charlotte Mason Homeschool-
ing books, not the originals at first but books written about her
work. (My Library has some of these, maybe yours does too.) Do
read the originals later if you get interested in Charlotte Mason

Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola
A Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison
More Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison
For the Children's Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay

or try these web sites:

Charlotte understood children (and parents by the way, even though
she was never one) and her method of schooling is very relaxed and
natural and unburdening. We love it.

I hope these suggestions and the other ladies' suggestions will
help you enjoy homeschooling your son and that he will begin to
enjoy reading someday, too. It may not be for many years -- take
it slow and be patient and give him a love for learning and a great
relationship with you, his dad and any siblings above all!"
-- Debbie P. - homeschool mom for 17 years

Answer our NEW Question

"I'd like to ask other homeschool moms if they think that prepar-
ation for the PSAT and SAT are really beneficial. I have a thick
practice book to 'improve' your SAT scores, and vocab cards for
the PSAT, but these methods always seemed to me to miss the point
of testing what the student knows. And the books look like they
take so much time away from the child's school work. My oldest
has just taken his PSAT, and I'm wondering if I should make study-
ing for the big test one of his regular subjects for awhile. Is
there anyone who has experience in this test-taking business?"
-- Elyse W.


Do you have practical advice and/or an opinion to share with Elyse?
Please send your answer to: HN-answers@familyclassroom.net

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