Nov 1, 2011

I am a big fan of phonics. In the how-to-teach-reading-wars, I side firmly on the side of phonics. I have spent many hundreds of dollars and hundreds of hours studying phonics, whole-language, The Spaulding method, The Charlotte Mason method, the Hopkins method, and a gazillion other methods.

I love phonics…but they don’t always work.

I taught Blythe phonics when she was three and four. She could look at any letter and tell you what it said and what the rules were governing that sound. But reading was still an enormous challenge for her. It took years for reading to become easy for her. YEARS.

Keziah picked up on reading easy as pie as I was teaching and reteaching Blythe. I don’t remember ever sitting down and teaching her to read. She just read.

Then there is Fisher. I don’t know what to do. Not only does reading not make a lick of sense to him, neither does phonics. He can’t remember from day to day what the sounds are. He can’t sound them out. His brain doesn’t make sense of the shapes OR the sounds OR the words OR any of it.

He loves bugs. He loves numbers. He loves pretend play. He loves digging and running and climbing and laughing and discovering and building and legos. He loves me to read to him. He loves painting and drawing and making music.

He is completely overwhelmed by reading.

Today for the umpteenth time we relearned mat, cat, sat, hat, rat. He spelled them out with his moveable alphabet. He read them to me. He cried. He said “This is not helping!” twenty or so times. His friends are reading and he is not and we are both frustrated. I want to infuse him with confidence and courage. I want to make it easy for him. I want to take away the pain and embarrassment I know he must feel.

All I can do is love and teach and try new ways of helping the information stick in his brain.

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  1. Have you tried ZooPhonics or another kinesthetic approach to phonics? When I was teaching first grade I found that it often helped with the kids, especially the little boys, who just didn’t click with other phonics methods. I don’t know if they have a homeschool version or not, but I’m sure there is something similar for homeschoolers. You could even make up your own having him help you create an animal or creature for each letter.

    • tracy

      Yes, we have done a lot of animal things…snake for s type of things. It just doesn’t click. I’ll keep trying though…thank you for the suggestion.

  2. me

    Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons? I love it and it’s working for my nephew who is developmentally, a LOT like Fisher.

    • tracy

      I have not used 100 Easy Lessons…partly because I have about 20 different teach your child to read programs and haven’t wanted to buy another one (surely something in my house will work with him!) and partly because I don’t like the bolded and combined letters…but maybe I should give it a shot. Are you using yours right now with K?

  3. They have 100 easy lessons at the library in IF.

  4. me

    Yes we are – but I didn’t know they had it at the library. Worth a shot to get it and at least see? It’s scripted but of course you don’t have to say what they want you to say (I think some of the scripting is overkill). They ease the child out of the bolded letters and combined sounds (and all the other pronunciation guides) very gradually. At the end they’re reading regular text and it has a great ‘what next’ section w/ book selections.

  5. LaPriel

    I have always wondered how well this method works.

    • tracy

      Yes, we have that book…and many, many others. Thanks for the suggestion though!

  6. LaPriel

    Did you like it? Is it a good program that I might want to have on hand?

  7. Rachael

    Tracy- have you seen the starfall website? It’s a lot like Charlotte Mason’s lesson plans for sight words and such. Do you think Fisher might enjoy something like that?

    • tracy

      I haven’t seen it, I will check it out!

      • Debbie

        There is a step before some children can master phonics called phonemic awareness. The Barton System (very expensive) deals directly with it and has a small test on their site to see if your child could use their system. (Their demo videos are worth watching I learned things about open and closed syllables I didn’t know and it’s so hands on.)

        I actually went to a week long training for learning about phonemic awareness and trained in a currculum for older students that hadn’t progressed with their reading called LANGUAGE. I have a book of exercises to use. If Fisher can manipulate sounds, then this isn’t the problem. But for Tyler and Natalie this was extremely helpful. Your welcome to look at it if you want. Examples: Say map without the /m/, change the first sound in jazz to /h/, say a word that rhymes with “pick” etc…

        • tracy

          Yes, I have been working on phonemic awareness for a long time with him…thank you for the suggestions though!