Thursday, July 13, 2006

Special K's first reading lesson

Special K has asked me several times to learn to read. Before we started, she could already read several words like "ok", "no", "on" and "Deeprun Tram".

As soon as the reading books arrived, Special K wanted to read them. She read the first two books of the first set of the Bob Books. Together we read the first book of the first set of Dora Phonics Together we read the first Dora book and book 9 of the Bob books. The Dora books are way too advanced for the absolute beginning reader, but she really loves Dora.

I taught my sister to read almost twenty years ago, and the Bob books are a lot easier and more interesting than the Peter and Jane books we read. However Special and I started to have the same frustrating problem where phonics didn't make sense to Special K. They never made much sense to my sister either. Sure Special K knows every letter sound and can sound out C A T, but to get from there to the word 'cat' is a huge leap.

In reality I don't read that way and my mom tells the story of how she tried to teach me to read. "r-a-t, what's that word?" I replied brightly "Mouse!" I remember a teacher taught me to read in preschool, but I forget quite how.

I've memorized thousands of words and word chunks. On the rare occasion I encounter an unfamilar word, I never sound out the word letter by letter, I process it as a chunks. With my sister, phonics only made sense after she had learned to read as tool to learn harder compound words, not as a tool for learning to read.

I was beginning to think the same might be true for my daughter, but the Bob books are much more clever than the books twenty years ago. They have words like Mac, and Mat and rhyming words like bags and rags. After she read bags, I told her rags was very similar to bags except it started with r, and she got it.

I've heard of some other movement like whole language or some such. If I had more time and patience, I might look it up. I took a brief look at this DISTAR book, and to be honest, it looked so tedious and difficult for the poor parent, not to mention the child. You had to move your hand in a certain way. A total nonstarter for a person with a movement disorder. And each lesson didn't seem to tell a story. What's the point in reading to a 4-year-old if you can't read a story? But then I'm afraid most reading theories make me want to beat my head against a wall. "Did you bother to make it fun and exciting?" as well as fit with your theory.

But if you have any fun and exciting recommendations, please let me know.

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