My 6 year-old can now read pretty good in both English and Dutch except for the complicated words or the ones with silent alphabets. I am a proud mother:) For her own sake I am happy she has found a new world in books. In this post I am retracing our attempts at learning to read and write, because I am in a bit of abc soup with my lil one.
What I Did
What I’d done with Big G, at home, since she was all of 2 years old was picture books, a tattered alphabet book, and www.starfall.com. She picked up the alphabets quickly, and learned to write them too. We started with the capitals and then the small ones. Though I am told that now the children are taught small letters first and then the capitals. Then we were in limbo for a while with our learning attempts as lil G came into our lives and we all had our adjustments to make. We got back to the blackboard only after a longish gap – once Big G was settled with our return here and at ease with school and the language here. A friend of mine had mentioned using Jolly Phonics to teach reading to her daughter, but I resorted to Reading Lesson.
First I had to familiarize myself with English alphabet phonetics. Then sit with Big G who caught on faster to the phonetics then we started with some practice sheets we had downloaded from the Reading Lesson website, only the free stuff, mind you. There was also this entire list of Dolch words which we worked on now and then. For the reading practice I did not have any set of easy-to-read books or Big books etc, blame my lack of preparation. We started reading with a story-book 3-Minute Jungle Tales- which contains about 100 or so 10- 12 sentence stories on animals. We sat with a pencil and split long words, reminded her of silent e’s, kept re-visiting starfall for reference and thus plodded on. I think we took about a good 6-8 months to learn reading.
Starfall – the paid site, has a lot more exercises for reading and basic maths and I highly recommend it. In the beginning, the reading was a bit forced, even to a child who love’s books and stories. But soon, she instinctively got the feel of reading and persevered in her way. Reading my grocery list, peeking at a book I’m reading, TV programs, small words, everything was a step towards gaining confidence.
In school here, they don’t encourage writing or reading or even identifying alphabets till the age of 6, equivalent of 1st std in India. Then children start with writing their names, and reading small 2-letter sets like uk, el, an, moving on 3-letter ets uil, ijs, and then to 4-letter sets koek, reus, pijn, and so on. Accompanied with reading, writing and dictation. In the 6 months that Big G has completed school the full abc is yet to be taught but I guess most kids pick it up along the way.
Now if only all I did worked with lil G who at this stage is what I call – Kala Akshar (in a nice way, of course). And who runs away at the slightest attempt to coax her into learning a’s and b’s. At 3.5 she can say the abc song, count till 20 with a couple of prompts…….and that’s it. When pressed she will reluctantly identify A or B, sometimes the M, N, Ws, but for the rest I get a shrug, and absolutely no interest to know. I have some more tricks up my sleeve, some fridge magnets, making alphabets with fingers which generates more interest than anything else, adapted flash cards, and old faithfull starfall too. She loves to play teacher-teacher at home, so maybe use that too. Could be hit or miss:)
I would be interested in knowing how you taught your kids the abc and reading. I realise I am talking about two different issues here – identifying alphabets, and reading. Please do share your methods and success stories.
Cross posted at: www.wrenwarbles.blogspot.com.