Saturday, 1 July 2017

"How do I get my child"

"How do I get my child "

"Help! My child is (under 7) and won't spell out/sit and read/write things down!"

Well there's your problem! You are not teaching reading! Not that that is something you need to sit and force a child to do (all your going to do is get a fight). If you want to encourage your child to read you need two things. Books and time. I don't remember teaching my daughter to "read" we just always had books, everywhere. She would copy me and her Dad looking at books. It wasn't something we worried about.
Stories and reading were a huge part of our bedtime routine (I kind of really miss it now she 15!) and I would tend to stop on a cliff-hanger! I found this would make her excited to go to bed (and hear the story) and it would also mean I caught her under the covers with a torch reading, because she wanted to know what would happen.
You do need GOOD books (I can only think of two books that had anything to do with Princess we ever owned) well written and crafted, slightly gross or scary stories, stories with lots of adventures.
Our favourite was The 13 and 1/2 lives of Captain Blue Bear. This actually an adult book, written in the style of a children's book. In terms of reading aloud it's NOT easy and you look silly (which is always a bonus) but if you have fun with it they do.
We also loved Terry Pratchett, Lemony Snicket and Neil Gaiman (his Graveyard books hit the mark with my spooky loving daughter). 

What is reading? 

Reading at it's heart is pattern recognition. It doesn't matter HOW they learn (phonics just never worked for us because English is NOT a phonetic language.) We learn to recognise patterns naturally. What is safe, what isn't, what is edible, what isn't. As such if you add a word to a thing, and they see what it is, they will learn pretty quickly that the cookie jar, has the word cookies on it!
The basic understanding that this set of shapes means X will happen but some folks brains are wired to do it later than others. It's worth bearing in mind that in the most successful academic countries do not even begin to teach children until they hit 7 years old.
This is because of brain development. Before that they are learning a HUGE amount about the world in this primary expression: play. 
Now my daughter was reading very young, but not because we "made" her. It was something she wanted to do. I wasn't happy with how they were teaching her words at school so we would play word games at home (a home-made version of snap with words). We kept it light and fun, while her tea was cooking. 
There is another kind of reading. Reading where you are creating a story, a movie in your mind populated with the people written on a page. It is satisfying and emotional, it is uplifting and allows you to see and in worlds you have never experienced. It fosters empathy, heroism (if you have never been seen some be really brave, or strong, or overcoming how do you know you can?) and kindness.
It is deeply important because it the imagination is a muscle that requires practice to use.
Some never experience this. They simply are not wired to.
Some people never had really good stories (women and girls in particular have a real lack of decent books) or were told it was "boring" or pointless to read like this. I get told I am "strong" a lot by people, and I genuinely believe that is because I read a lot. Most of my protagonists I read growing up were strong men, and I put myself in the stories with them. I wasn't a damsel, I was a battle-gruff knight on a horse, not complaining about the rain.  Reading changed how I viewed the world, and myself.
If you foster a love of this kind of reading, the other kind just sort of follows along. Grammar, spelling and writing structure also come with it. 

Home education is far too important to be taken seriously.


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