In most cases, learning how to read is a hodge-podge endeavor leaving children with no clear way to achieve success and feeling inadequate and frustrated. Learning how to read is too important to be discouraging.
Don’t take my word for it. Ask any kindergarten teacher the sequential steps for learning how to read. Don’t blame the K teacher. It is a curriculum problem, but it needs to be fixed.
Think of it this way:
If a child can’t tell you what they are supposed to be learning in a way you can understand, they don’t know what is expected of them.
If they don’t know what is expected, how can they work to achieve it?
This is a common occurrence. See what one kindergartner experienced:
“I wanted to read before I even began kindergarten.”
I was saved by Hanson Reading and the Phonics Chart System that Lynne Hanson created, but first I have to tell you what happened to me.
When I turned five during the summer before kindergarten, I couldn’t wait for school to begin. I wanted to read so badly. My brother and sister could read, and my mom and dad told me that when I began kindergarten I would begin to learn to read too. You can imagine my disappointment when the first day of school ended and no one even talked about how to read.
The first experience I had reading was in a giant-sized book. The teacher told us that we were going to read this book. I didn’t really know how to read it, but the teacher read to us, and she would ask us to think of a word that began with the first letter, and we could look at the pictures and guess what the word was. We were pretty good at guessing. So now I knew how to read.
Wow, this was so exciting. Now, I could read to Mom. The teacher gave us books to take home and read. Mom told me the book was a little hard, so she would read part of the book, and I was to sound out the words that she wanted me to read. I knew to look at the pictures and guess at the words, but Mom said, “Sound the words out.” I didn’t know what “Sound it out,” meant, but it was evident that I should know. I didn’t think to ask her how I should sound it out.
Reading wasn’t as much fun as I thought it would be. Mom said that I was to read one letter at a time, and I would be reading in no time, but that didn’t seem to work very well. Mom told me not to worry. She said that this word and that word didn’t follow the instructions the teacher had taught me, so it wasn’t my fault. I didn’t know what Mom meant, but Mom said that I knew short vowels. I didn’t remember reading any short ones. The vowels I knew looked the same size as all the rest. I thought, “I don’t think I like reading.”
The teacher sent home a pack of “sight words”. She asked my mom to help me memorize them. Mom told me that after I learned these words I could read. Mom told me these words were the same ones on our classroom “word wall”. I knew the 1st few words on the word wall. We always started reading from the top of the word wall, and I knew those words, but when Mom flashed these word cards, they were all mixed up and, I didn’t remember them well. My mother seemed a little exasperated with me, so I didn’t like the “sight words“ much either.
I wasn’t doing very well on the flash cards, but I was getting better on the word wall. I could remember the whole 1st column and almost all of the second column. Now, I could read. I ran home with a new book that was an “easy-to-read” book. The print was big and there wasn’t much print on each page, so this book should be easy. I started to read to Mom. When I didn’t know a word, my mom told me, “You should know this. It’s on the word wall,” but I couldn’t remember it. Mom told me that English was crazy and, I’d just have to remember.
Reading was so confusing. I didn’t know what to remember and what to sound out. I knew I had to sound out some words, memorize others and look at pictures to figure out what the words were. Now, my teacher told me to look for rhyming patterns and “chunks” at the end of words. I guess chunks are like the big chunks in peanut butter. The teacher said these were “reading strategies”. I didn’t really know what to do first, second, or third, and it seemed that every time I tried, I was wrong. The teacher told me that I needed to work on fluency; other children were faster readers! How did they do it?
I didn’t know how to be a fast reader, so I looked at the pictures more and got a little better at telling the story, but my mom said that I was not really reading, and she was concerned. The teacher said I would catch on and not to worry. I think something is wrong with me, and they don’t want me to know. I don’t want to read anymore!
Now, for the rest of the story……..next week.
Best to you from Lynne Hanson