Saturday, January 2, 2010

All, Ball, Call, Wonderific, You're Terrific!

"How do you train your kids to speak English?"

My children blink back effortlessly at the question when other parents are suddenly caught off-guard by their fluent English.

Uhmmm, I begin. I want to tell them I just speak English. I don't train anyone, and certainly don't train my children to speak any language. I talk to them, and they talk back. But before I can even muster an answer, Tasneem swings out Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss and reads three pages without hesitation.

"How do you train your children to read?" Their curiosity heightens.

I don't, I don't, I say. Thinking is sometimes a slow process for me. I just read with my children, I tell them. But it's not a good enough answer. They want to know what programme I use, which preschool curriculumn I follow and what is the fastest track to having their children reading too.

I have read about different methods. But they don't have much impact on me because I have tried out flashcards and such, but using them has just gotten a tad stressful for my liking. And not to mention, flashcards create clutter in this already cluttered house. So I just read with my kids.

I have read of other homeschoolers who have never thought their children to read. Their children just WATCH their parents read and observe their love for books. In the end, these homeschoolers do read in the end, even as "late" as the age of 9. Yep, they are the infamous "late readers," but the difference is they read because of their love for books and a strong interest in learning through reading.

Other children, even at the baby age of 3, who go through reading programmes, have to endure the stress of being labled (think: slow, late, clever, average, B+, not as good as Sara J), in reading and depending on their lable may either cherish their quiet evenings with books or resent the thought of reading all together.

So I discarded those programmes, and my endless search on the internet to keep my 3 year old en par with her preschool comrades and just enjoyed reading with her. This was over a year ago. Then one day...

"Mama, what's this word A-L-L."
"It looks like this word - W-A-L-L."
"Yep, Humpty Dumpty sat on a WALL."

She frowns and stares into the book while her brother is tearing up another book.

"This word too. It looks the same. F-A-L-L."
"What do you think that makes?"
"What sound does F make though?"
"Yep. F-"
"Humpty Dumpty had a great fall."

She's grinning now and doesn't notice Yusuff ripping up her art work.

"ALL the king's horses and all the king's men, can not put Humpty together again."

That was before we learned of Wonder Red and the Super Why clan. Since then, she has picked up on so many words just be recognising them and their sounds just out of interest, and Green Eggs and Ham has become second nature to her.

Hopefully I will learn to explain to other parents a little better now that I have written this post. I love reading and I was a really late reader. That's what my school said. "Maria's a late reader. She is slower than her peers." Tasneem just happens to be an early reader, like her Dad, who also started reading at 4. She also loves books but that could be our doing, since DH and I are slightly obsessed by books.

On that note, I would recommend books, books and more books. I would recommend parents to enjoy reading together with their children, every single day instead of worrying about pronounciation and phonics. It may work for some parents, but a phonics "programme" has not worked for me, nor Tasneem. I know one homeschooling mother who just practiced reading to her children every day. Her eldest son is 12 and she still spends 20 minutes a day reading with him. On his own, he reads English classics and him and mum have read-a-thons on unschooling days.

I would also recommend Super Why. It's awesome. Wonder Red's "All, Ball, Call," and similar jingles of rhyming words hit the right chords with my kids. Some Muslim homeschoolers may cringe at AlphaPig, but AlphaPig rocks too. He's one cool Pig. You should listen to his rendition of the Alphabet - my toddlers, including the baby, love it and I think the 6 month old is catching on letters already. Heh heh. I have no idea if my boys will read early like their dad and sister or later like me. Either way, I can't wait to find out.

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