OBJECTIVE: TO HELP CHILDREN NOT ONLY LEARN THE MECHANICS OF READING AND WRITING, BUT TO HELP THEM LOVE READING AND WRITING
"We both read without being taught. No power on earth could have kept us from ferreting out the momentous secrets that lay between the cover of books. We never heard that there was an alphabet that had to be learned before we could read. We played with out letter-blocks and picture-books quite by ourselves, and presently divined the relation between the spoken and printed words. Thrilling two-line tales in large type with explanatory pictures proved the necessary missing link, and then with one intrepid leap of mind we seemed to land in the heart of a book. There might be a few puzzles in it, a few questions to ask, but we could dig out the story quickly enough, you may be sure of that!
"In this way books grew to be a vital part of our life. Books, books, books! There was always plenty of time (incredible statement!); therefore books before breakfast, after playtime, before bedtime, between-times."
(from My Garden of Memory, the autobiography of Kate Douglas Wiggin, best known for her Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. The 'we' refers to Kate and her little sister.)
Dr. Brad Wilcox Speaks at EETC 2012
John Milton, who gave the world Paradise Lost, rejected the idea of school compositions, calling it "forcing the empty wits of children to compose themes, verse and orations, which are the acts of ripest judgment, and the final work of a head filled by long reading and observing."
"Wouldst thou write a living book thou first must live."
"I know of nothing which so tends to accuracy of thinking and self-expression as the writing habit. It increases one's vocabulary and one's facility of expression. The very act of writing a thing tends to fasten it upon the memory, to impress it, to clutch it in the mind." --Orison Swett Marden
X: Survey of American Literature (pp247-362)
Poetry can be an enjoyable gateway to reading. I remember one of our daughter's First Grade teacher taught the class to read entirely through poetry. Every few days they would be given a page with a poem written on it which the teacher had helped the children to love by reading it aloud together, and then they illustrated the page. At the end of the year, they had a keepsake book of poetry. You can use the Mother Goose rhymes in the same way. Let your little ones watch you form the words from left to right, saying the words out loud as you write. Then let them illustrate the pages. This becomes a personal first reading book.
The truth is, for many children who are immersed in stories, storytelling, and poetry as children, reading happens as naturally as speaking. I've read about and met many people who say they cannot recall ever being taught to read--they just did it! The important thing is to never force it. Some children are ready to read at a very young age. Other children develop later. Both are normal. You'll find a lot of articles backing up the idea if you do a Google search.
Just a word on spelling. OK, maybe more than a word. It seems as though the world is divided between those who can spell and those who can't. I am one of those people who can look at a word and determine if it's spelled correctly or not. I never had to study for spelling tests. Yet, I had friends who could practice and practice and practice and still miss the words on the spelling tests. Thankfully, spell check is a wonderful tool for the spelling challenged. There's no shame in using it! There is a story of Robert Louis Stevenson in this month's Stories of Great Writers book that reveals he was a horrible speller. But that didn't prevent him from sharing his huge heart with the rest of the world. So, if your child struggles with spelling, take heart! He is in good company. Don't stress over it.
Why Stevie Can't Spell -- A professional writer sets out to find out why he can't spell. An insightful read.
There are spelling programs out there, but most children learn to spell through copy work and writing. I wouldn't give them random spelling lists... if they're able to learn by a list, let that list be of words they have misspelled in their writing.
Rachel deMille (a familiar name to many moms in this group) has had good success with this little book.
My mother had/has the most beautiful penmanship. Her 95 year old eyes are fading and her arthritic hand is shaking, but she still carefully crafts everything she writes. When I was a little girl, I'd notice that when she was talking on the phone, she'd pull out a piece of scratch paper and start drawing circles and lines all over it. I was fascinated by it and copied what she was doing. Even today, I find myself doodling with the same circles and lines. Well, when I was looking for some penmanship books for fun in the old classic books, the first one that popped up was the Palmer method. And when I opened it up, there were all the familiar exercises from my child-hood! After all these year, I finally understand what these doodles were all about. If you've ever wanted beautiful penmanship, and are willing to craft the art, I'm sure the Palmer method will get you there. Here's the book I found: The Palmer Method
Here are the top 6 handwriting picks of Jamie Martin at Simple Homeschooling.
From the Life of Beatrix Potter
"If you really want to write, why don't you start with a journal?"
From the Story of Louisa M. Alcott
"The Alcott children were encouraged to keep diaries in which they wrote down their thoughts and feelings and fancies, and even at [a] very early age Louisa's journal was a record of deep feelings and of a child's sacred emotions."