Thursday, 3 February 2011

Leaping and Jumping with Literacy!

We do, quite literally move in fits and starts with learning to read in our house; Since I began teaching Eve phonetic sounds at the age of 3 and a half I have been trying to find 'the best way' for her! I started with pure Montessori activities but it didn't quite sit right with Eve... to do the activities it was very 'one on one' and she didn't respond well to that. I like the principles of Montessori though so have cobbled together a few different approaches and she is flourishing at the moment! I hardly know where to begin really but I'll try.

I looked for a long time for a progressive phonic based reading scheme that would give Eve the opportunity to read an entire book (eventually) without having to ask for me to read words that were not decodable. Oxford Reading Tree are widely used but I find that they are too daunting and rely too much on the child deducing the content of the book by looking at the pictures. Now I know it is an important part of reading for young children, taking cues from the illustrations but Eve tended to 'read' entirely from the pictures rather than the words and became very frustrated with the words that she couldn't blend.

I am very pleased to have found Read Write Inc by Ruth Miskin that I will post about soon but suffice to say it is perfect for our needs and as a bonus, costs pence per book. It is, of course, designed to be used in schools but I have adapted it for home use and am using a variety of manipulatives, Montessori activities and worksheets for the new sounds introduced in each book.

As a consequence of this Eve is really enjoying the variety and enjoying success too. She is picking up new blends and digraphs really quickly and confidently applying them to reading the 'set' book. I am delighted that this is so successful, but even more delighted with the general effects. Eve is finally using her writing to do things like making 'worksheets' for her little sister, writing cards and letters, and has plans to write a story too! We have made a date to raid the stationary shop on Friday to buy an appropriate notebook for Eve to use as a dictionary. She has been struggling with remembering 'sight words' and when I mentioned today that words like 'and' and 'the' were very useful for when she wanted to write things for herself, and if she kept them in a notebook it might help her remember, she was very enthusiastic and set to writing the list above, using the words in the back of one of the Ruth Miskin books as a guide.

I'm thrilled because this is what I wanted for my daughters. In educating them at home I wanted them to be able to discover the delights of language for themselves and at their own pace. For it to actually BE a discovery and a joy rather than a forced thing, like the sentence writing homework sent home with her school-attending peers.  It has been hard to keep the faith though and hard to be patient and wait for this to happen, but tiny little literary rainbows like today boost me no end!

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