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AO Phonics

AmblesideOnline: Phonics

For phonics information, see CM Series Volume 1 Home Education pages:199-222. Charlotte Mason used a combination of sight reading and phonics.

I would like to add to this that the information in volume one was all the teacher-instruction the parents were given, although they did have the readers/materials/cards to teach in the way CM describes. It was a combination of sight-learning and phonics. Phonics are useful and a good way to learn how to read, but we are kidding ourselves if we think English is 100% phonetic. It certainly is not-my auditory child wants to spell everything phonetically, and his spelling leaves much to desired (although it is improving). Think of words like "weigh" or "tough." How about words like "risque" and "bisque." It really can be frustrating, and I feel sorry for non-native speakers learning our language. (My son used to spell that "langwij.")

After learning the basic Polish phonics system, which has no irregularities or exceptions, I was immediately able to read and know how to pronounce each word I encountered. Which is not to imply that I could make my tongue *say* them, but that's another issue. ;-) Even when we use a phonics system to teach our children, we are continually having to help them with sight words so that that can read books-come, you, the, could, etc...


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Hello ~

I just want to be sure that we appreciate that different children learn to read at different rates. I wouldn't want any mom to deduce that there is a problem if her child is not an independent reader by the age of 6. Charlotte Mason made comments about both the hard work of learning to read and also the mystery of learning to read. Some quotes from Volumes 1 and 6 follow:

Vol. 1, P. 199 "Reading presents itself first amongst the lessons to be used as instruments of education, although it is open to discussion whether the child should acquire the art unconsciously, from his infancy upwards, or whether the effort should be deferred until he is, say, six or seven, and then made with vigour."

Vol. 1, P. 200 "It is much to be wished that thoughtful mothers would more often keep account of the methods they employ with their children, with some definite note of the success of this or that plan."

"...few of us can recollect how or when we learned to read: for all we know, it came by nature, like the art of running;..."

Vol. 1, P. 214 "...let us recognise that learning to read is to many children hard work, and let us do what we can to make the task easy and inviting."

Vol. 1, P. 215 "In the first place, let us bear in mind that reading is not a science nor an art."

Vol. 1, P. 232 "The seven-years-old boy will have begun to read for himself, but must get most of his intellectual nutriment, by ear, certainly, but read to him out of books."

Vol. 1, P. 233 "As soon as children are able to read with ease and fluency, they read their own lesson, either aloud or silently..."

Vol. 6, P. 180 "Form IA (7 to 9) hears and tells chapter by chapter."

Vol. 6, P. 181 "Form IIB has a considerable programme of reading, that is, not the mere mechanical exercise of reading but the reading of certain books. Therefore it is necessary that two years should be spent in Form IA and that in the second of these two years the children should read a good deal of the set work for themselves. In IIB they read their own geography, history, poetry, but perhaps Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night", say, Scott's "Rob Roy", "Gulliver's Travels", should be read to them and narrated by them until they are well in their tenth year."

I hope I haven't misrepresented CM's philosophy by quoting out of context. I do encourage folks to refer to the chapters that she has dedicated to reading instruction, progress, and application.

HTH but do disregard anything that is not your "cup'a"!

Smiles and God's peace ~ Andrea D.

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Regarding Reluctant Readers, I can think of possible reasons:

1 - Underdeveloped reading skills. Some kids just need more developmental reading time than others and that's okay. How is the child's ability to decode words phonetically?
2 - Distraction by and fatigue from TV and/or computer games.
3 - Limited receptive language and background knowledge. Continuing to listen to literary language will soon fill this gap by developing concepts, higher level thinking, and enhancing lexicon.
4 - Vision problem.

I realize that these may not apply to any given child but just thought I'd throw them out for consideration in a general sense.

~ Andrea D.

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I was a special educator for over 15 years, spending over half that time in the field of learning disabilities specializing in reading and math remediation. I was/am well equipped to deal with the instruction of reading, but I want to warn you that little Joe or Jane may have a special timetable of their own.

Teaching my own oldest daughter to read has been REAL interesting. She will be 8 in August. She is a lefty and has some physical visual problems with focusing. She had moderate speech articulation problems which disappeared by age 5. She is extremely bright. Listening and language comprehension skills would be off the charts. She is a gifted humorist and scarily intuitive. She is a competitive dancer and learns sophisticated dance combinations with little effort.

She began pretending to "write cursive" at age 2 and 1/2 after watching the Beatrix Potter Peter Rabbit videos including dipping her "quill pen" into an "inkwell", just like Beatrix. Shortly thereafter came all the letters and sounds, sign readings etc. Then she just sort of stopped. I am one of those who really believes in few academics before age 6, so I wasn't concerned. She was resistant to my little bag of tricks, many of them described here such as patterning, Dolch word lists, etc. I sort of "unschooled" for kindergarten where dd continued to be highly creative, etc., but no real "taking off" as has been described here. She did well with the Bob Books at age 6 (many of yours will do these at age 4).

We began AO Year One last Sept. She can narrate entire chapters of CHOW, Parables of Nature, and absorbs most of the readings a story at a time. She remains extremely creative. I have tested her using informal diagnostic assessment I used in my classroom of old. She tests generally at mid- third grade for word recognition (phonics). Her comprehension is literally years beyond this. She is one of those who "should" be reading at fifth grade level at this point. Yet the Little House Books are still not an easy read for her.

Assessment? I used to tell all of my clients that teachers in the public schools generally just made reading assignments based on the teacher's manual. They really didn't understand how to teach reading. Reading was "magic". And it really is magical when a zillion and one things come together just right and there it is! Reading! And when it doesn't? One looks at the learning styles, patterns of mistakes, social emotional aspects of the learner, and begins again.


In my daughter's case? She is a perfectionistic learner. (She screamed for hours upon turning age four and acquiring a hula hoop. Why couldn't she do it, she railed? Two weeks later she was hula hooping like a champion (for real) but she would have thrown it all out the first night if her father and I had not insisted she calm down and keep trying, alternating firmness and encouragement.) I think reading is much the same for her. She avoided it because it didn't come easily to her. She has some physical visual problems in addition to poor eyesight that the doc hasn't really pinned down. She is not applying patterns well in words or syllables with long vowels. Perhaps a touch of dyslexia. She can now verbalize to me that a word may look one way one minute and "normal" the next. And she knows what "normal" IS.

So! We are going to be using the Blue Backed Speller (lots of patterns) along with the same old playing with words. We are going to use a tachistoscope (a card which reveals one line of type at a time, homemade).We are going to be highlighting for visual cues in the materials she will be reading. We are going to be using a huge amount of AmblesideOnline curriculum on tape, courtesy of the local library, so that she can absorb more than I am capable of reading aloud, thus compensating somewhat for her lack of independent reading skills at Year 2.

Apologies for the long post. But some of you guys indicated wonderment that the public schools couldn't do this. Simple right? Well, not always. Though I make no apologies for the weakness of government schools. But I wanted to share with some of you who are just beginning a story of what happens when this magical "connection" is not made within weeks, months or even years of your first A fat cat sat on the mat!

We are indeed fearfully and wonderfully made.

Sandra W in GA

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