Search & Win


This is a picture from a couple of years ago.  Jor Man is reading to Campster out of a book about Sharks.  She really looks up to him, and admires his reading.

I remember my mother helping me to learn to read.  There was a phonics program offered through the Chicago Tribune called "Shortcuts to Reading", and my mother read it with me.  When I went to kindergarten I could already read.  So could Cathy Harris and another girl named Carole, who later went to Catholic school.

The school wanted to put a gifted program into place.  From my morning kindergarten class, the three girls were asked to come back in the afternoon for first grade.  I went to Kindergarten in the morning and first grade in the afternoon.  It was 1970.

By the end of the year, we three had completed not only the kindergarten work, but most of first grade as well.  The first and second grades had a combined class, so we just stayed in that class for first grade, and finished second grade in that year, also.  Cathy Harris was promoted to third grade.  My parents decided not to allow me to "skip" second grade.  So I took second grade again that next year.  No matter.  At that point, I still loved school and loved learning.

I would go home every day and "teach" my little brother what I learned in school.  He was brilliant and an eager learner - so I convinced myself that I must be a fabulous teacher.  And so my love affair with teaching had begun.

When it came time to "teach" Jor Man to read, I was undaunted.  After all, I had taught my brother to read when he was three and I was five - so how hard could it be?  We worked our way through Phonics Pathways (a wonderful phonics program), and he was reading at a fourth grade level by mid year of first grade.

By the time Campster was "of age" to begin reading, I had a slightly different philosophy - I was no longer willing to force a child to sit by me and read for 10 minutes a day against their will.  I must admit - Phonics reading, while I think by far the best way to learn to read, has its moments when the child may become frustrated.  And the parent (that would be me!) failing to realize that learning to read now seems easy to me - but is still like learning a foreign language (Russian, anyone?) to the child - gets impatient.  Time to set the phonics aside!

Reading is fun!  When it stops being fun - it is torture for parent and child.

I have been much less diligent and heavy-handed with helping Campster to learn to read than I was with Jor Man.  And somewhere along the way, Sher Bear has gotten very excited about reading.  She will get out her phonics book (she prefers the smaller, Abeka phonics books that a friend gave us) and read to herself for fun - even on weekend.

So where Jor Man was reading chapter books by age 7, Campster is still sounding out three letter words. And Sher Bear is nearly caught up with her.  Hmmm.  How do I feel about that?!  I suppose it could be far more convenient to practice with both of them at the same level!  I guess I worry about Campster's self esteem if Sher Bear reads better than she does.

Campster says that she wants to read - and we have a long talk about it.  She doesn't think that she reads yet because she doesn't read chapter books to herself (like Jor Man).  But I explain that she does read.  And I tell her that if we work on Phonics Pathways everyday for 10 minutes, by her next birthday, she will be able to read chapter books, too.  She doesn't believe me.  She asks Jor Man.  Thankfully he concurs with my assessment.  Campster asks me to please work with her every day.

I wonder how long this will last?  Already I see a marked improvement from just several days of consistently working on her phonics.  I hope she begins to feel the progress and we gain some momentum from that.  But there will always be moments that are more challenging or require "toughing it out" to get to the next level.

Wish you were here!

1 comment:

Bill Allen said...

What if phonics isn't the answer? How long should a parent keep pursuing the phonics approach to learning to read? Is there an alternative approach to phonics? These are just a few of the questions that have caused parents to seek a style of learning that best suits their child’s strength or aptitude for learning…3-D learning.


Btw… I gave you a bookmark and a link on my blog at

Btw… I gave you a bookmark and a link on my blog at

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