The countdown to school has begun. The summer has whizzed by and now we're planning our school shopping. We'll start school in a month and we all know how fast a month will pass--in the blink of an eye.
My son (#8) will enter first grade. I don't send my children to kindergarten because I want to make sure they learn to read and do simple math (and I'm a big baby and want to keep my kids home as long as I can). I use a phonics-based program. I've used the Spalding program because that's what our elementary school once used. Now, however, each grade in our elementary school uses a different phonics program. This past year I used Hooked on Phonics and that seemed to help my son grasp reading. (He loved to read all the books included with the program). I've found that while I liked aspects of the Hooked on Phonics program, I also felt it was missing some pieces so I added parts from the Spalding program.
Even with all of the practice with these programs, I truly believe the most important factor in helping a child learn to read is to read with that child. Reading with a child not only helps that child in his/her reading skills, it also communicates a love for that child as well as a love for reading. Lets' face it, children rarely do what we say, they do what we do. If they see that we enjoy reading and that we'll take time out to read with them, we set a powerful example.
It's appalling to me that we have so many children that get pushed through the school system without the fundamental reading skills they need to succeed. Once a child can read, he/she can do anything. Reading unlocks the imagination and stimulates creativity. Reading can take us to fantastical worlds and to real life situations. We can live vicariously through, and learn from, a character or situation without ever leaving the safety of our own home. We can experience embarrassment, fear, anger, euphoria, love, jealousy, envy, hate, pride, humility, and the list goes on. We can learn about the world around us and the people who populate it. No wonder we are counseled to read good books. Literacy is vital to our very existence.
Let's do our part and take a few minutes to read with a child today!
(Just as I finished this post, my 3 year old ran in with her favorite, tattered book in her hand and asked me to read it to her, so I took my own advice).