Friday, November 13, 2009

Teaching Preschool Reading - Phonics vs. Sight Words

This is just the first post in a series I'll be posting about reading instruction.

The first couple years of homeschooling involve a lot of reading instruction. I know some homeschoolers who focus on nothing but reading until their child hits 1st grade. I can honestly say that even with a BA in English and four years as a reading coordinator for a tutoring program, teaching reading to my own child was the hardest thing I've done.

I've taught other people's kids reading basics and studied different theories and methods on reading instruction, but when it came to my own kid I hit a wall. In fact, I slammed into the wall, passed out, and didn't quite know what was going on when I came to.

My son was very difficult to teach when it came to reading instruction. I focused mostly on teaching phonics, and while he did learn how to sound out words well, he just could not get down the fluency. I was frustrated. He was frustrated. I think the alphabet was frustrated. I bought the Headsprout program, hoping a different type of instruction would help. He liked completing the program, but his reading was the same.

It wasn't until I started reading instruction with my daughter that I realized where I went wrong with my son. I didn't combine phonics with sight word reading. I'm fully convinced that the best form of teaching reading is to combine phonics instruction with sight words. I call it the "sightnics" method. Just my own little term for it.

Basically Avlyn and I study four sight words at a time. The current set is the words A, An, And, The. This is actually our first set of words, and I will probably do one more set before we get busy with the holidays. After our sight word study we do a little phonics teaching. Right now we are still on consonant sounds.

At first I felt like I failed my son. But after talking to his first grade teacher a couple years ago and hearing her say that he had a wonderful grasp of phonics, I knew I did something right. I just didn't know how to put it into action so I could teach him how to put it into action. I can't go back, but I can rectify the mistakes I made with him so that my daughter is a fluent reader by first grade.

If you're a first year homeschooler, remember that you will make mistakes as you navigate the waters of reading and math instruction, but you will learn from those mistakes and continue learning all through your homeschooling adventure. Happy Homeschooling!

1 comment:

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