10 Feb 2015

Children Learning Reading Program

Category: ReadingAdmin @ 12:26 pm

Most people do not realize that children as young as three or four are so well focused on learning the sounds and meaning of language that, if properly presented, reading is actually not that difficult. The Children Learning Reading Program uses an approach similar to that of Montessori and Phono-Graphix (upon which I base my own reading instruction). Developed for parents to use with their children, it emphasizes phonemic awareness first, because children cannot learn how to make use of letters accurately unless they first learn how to hear the constituent sounds within words.1 It then teaches children the various letters and letter combinations that can represent these sounds. None of these ideas are new, but unfortunately, mainstream education has only applied them haphazardly at best.

Whether or not you think you understand how children learn to read – and why many struggle for years – watch the first video on the Children Learning Reading Program web page (or at least the first thirteen minutes). Witness children under the age of four skillfully decoding the words of entire sentences and paragraphs without missing the meanings therein. The video goes on to criticize how schools often confuse children about reading.2 It also presents statistics that ought to make any parent skeptical about mainstream education’s ability to teach this skill.

Many parents don’t feel they have the expertise or the time to teach their child themselves. On the contrary, unless you can afford to hire a reading tutor (like me☺), if your child does not read, you cannot afford the time you will spend in the future fighting with the school system to get your child’s needs met and the anguish you will feel trying to raise your child’s self-esteem. Unfortunately, children who lag behind in reading usually lag behind in most every subject and get stigmatized as well.

I have not yet had a chance to analyze this reading program in its entirety, but from what I have seen so far, it is certainly worth a try. If you do buy it, I encourage you to leave a comment below about how well it worked for you.3


1In fact, a very strong predictor of future reading success is how well a preschooler or Kindergartener can break words apart into their individual sounds (“segmenting”) and blend sounds back together to make a meaningful word (“blending”). These skill are usually only developed well if the child practices it with mentors – teachers, parents or more advanced students. Without these crucial steps, matching the symbols – the letters of the alphabet – to the sounds will be particularly confusing. Unfortunately, the reading instruction in mainstream education jumps to the symbolic representation before some of the children have enough experience with segmenting and blending sounds. In addition, the presentation of the symbols is made more complicated than it needs to be.

2By the way, I disagree with the video’s definition of “whole language,” by which is meant a “whole word” or “sight word” approach. On the contrary, a truly whole language approach does not exclude phonemic awareness and teaching letters as representations of sounds. Rather, it encourages the child to make meaning out of the text using all the skills he has available – phonics as well as cues from syntax and the meaning of the surrounding words and even the pictures if it helps. Most schools do not use a whole language approach, even if they claim to. There are proponents of whole language who object to a predominately sight-word approach as much as the creator of this program does. They also object to over-reliance upon phonics to the point that the child gets the mistaken notion that reading is entirely about sounding words out, even if it does not make any sense. It is the meaning that tells us we have read a word correctly, and without that, the word “bread” could just as well be pronounced “breed,” while “close” would always be pronounced with an “s” sound, giving “close the door” a different pronunciation and quite possibly a different interpretation: a poetic word reordering for “the door is close by.”

3For a good book on teaching your child to read, see Reading Reflex by Carmen and Geoff McGuinness.

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