Living Stones Academy

Educating by atmosphere, discipline, and life

In love with phonics

on June 12, 2011

My son was learning to read this past year, in “kindergarten” (I say that loosely, because he was receiving special education services through the school due to his IEP . . .it’s a long story). I wasn’t going to teach reading until Year/Grade 1. But I went with it. He enjoyed it. 🙂
I was concerned about how to proceed, now that we’re starting Year 1 in the fall. I found in my files “Really Reading“, from Tanglewood, something I’d forgotten I’d downloaded. It looks excellent, and I think a great introduction . . .but that’s the trouble. He’s already had an introduction. And this system, wonderful as it sounds, doesn’t go beyond 1 or 2 sounds of each letter/diagraph. So while it would fill Term 1 with McGuffey Readers, I was completely lost as to how to proceed beyond that, while still keeping with Charlotte Mason principles. I have the flash cards from Mott Media, and the book (ABC’s and All Their Tricks), but how to teach it without resorting to boring worksheets . . .I had no leads.
I finally thought clear enough to google it. I don’t remember the wording I used, but whatever it was brought up a blog which led me to www.donpotter.net. There, I found a link to Word Mastery, a 1913 textbook for teaching reading to first through third grades. What a FIND!! I’m at a loss to know why these sorts of things go out of print.
As a CM homeschooler, it is a precious find. It is absolutely in line with CM philosophy. Here are some key elements from the section on how to teach phonics from this book:
“Two exercises a day of ten minutes each is perhaps the ideal arrangement. The exercise should never be continued until pupils weary of it. At the first indication of lagging or weariness it is time to stop.” This is exactly in line with Mason’s ideas of short lessons, teaching to train in the habit of attentiveness.
The next thing is the order in which to teach it–ear training, tongue training, eye training, word building. In other words, they don’t see the words or letters until the third step, eye training. The author says, “Eye training begins with the book, — teaching the pupil to associate
the sound with the symbol.” Charlotte Mason talks about symbols coming after the understanding of a thing.
“The number of pages taken in a given lesson must be governed by the ability of the class. Take only as many as the pupils can do well.” The author repeatedly says the pupils should do the thing well, perfectly, etc. This is exactly in line with CM’s “perfect execution” idea.
“Concert recitation is helpful to timid pupils, and it saves time; but it should be avoided until the teacher is sure that each pupil participating in it can give the sound of every consonant correctly. . . a pupil takes the pointer and indicates combinations that will make familiar words while either he or other pupils pronounce them.” This sounds like narration.
“Do not require pupils to memorize [phonetic rules]; frequent application of the principles involved will insure a thorough knowledge of them.” This is definitely how narration works, especially in regards to term end exams.

I can’t wait to implement this program and reap the results!

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