-Laura Ingalls Wilder
Simplicity. I see it as a repeated theme especially in the ideas that make up a living education. It may take a little bit to clear away the educational clutter and get to the presiding idea, but after completing our first official day of First Grade, I can't help but cherish the great value this kind of a journey holds!
I read through some of the recommendations and PR articles relating to the teaching of phonics. After browsing a handful of curriculums none seemed to be the right fit for us.
What I was looking for was something that mirrored the simplicity, yet rigor of the method described in the PR article titled First Reading Lessons which is essentially the same as what is described in Volume 1.
I knew that my son, with his excitement mounting, would work best if starting from wholes and not pieces of words. The new words he would learn had to be linked to the preexisting and meaningful idea he already had possession of from his vocabulary gained from from the variety of real life experiences we had given him since his toddlerhood.
The article recommends starting phonics with the word 'an' and introducing it in the following steps:
- "This is the word 'an' like you hear when we say 'an orange' 'an apple' 'an egg.'"
- Then the child should take a mental picture visualizing the word 'an'. I was reminded of the observational skills we began when he was a small child with the mental 'picture painting' while out on nature walks or perhaps during picture study.
- When you're sure he's got it, have him read the word out loud.
- Next we move on to the point where new words are built from the existing word. 'pan' 'man' 'can' etc.
This is simple, with the clutter cleared away from the usual phonics lesson I had encountered. But, only 1 lesson is given as an example. Word building with 'at' and 'It' are mentioned, but it's left up to the teacher after that to fill in the rest until the child has a collection of 1,000 words, or so, that are his 'own possession' which he will 'regard as old friends whenever he meets them in a line of print' such as in the church bulletin or a magazine while waiting in line at the store.
Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, and a Life.
I won't put any free printable in front of my son unless it furthers one of those aspects of our education in a meaningful and beautiful way. It's for my sake as well. At this point, I'd like to point you to a free printable that I found to be most helpful in planning out the phonics or word-building lessons that followed the example above.
I like to work off a descriptive plan, at least until I'm comfortable with a lesson, so that I am free to observe and be aware of my son's needs or hesitations during the lesson rather than fumbling through what I am going to say. So, I ran over to the school supply section and picked out a sturdy notebook (hoping it will last until my second is ready to read) and scripted out a page with our first week of 15 minute lessons using the format from the PR article above and the word cards from Jan Brett as my guide. I numbered our cards starting with the ones that are complete words like 'eat' 'ick' 'ice' 'on' and moved to the word endings like 'ail' to make 'pail' and 'bail' or 'ake' to make 'bake' or 'cake.'
And there we had our phonics lessons for well into Term 1, or at least until he's ready for the First Reading lessons are the next step described in the article.
I thought if we needed a little variety, we might put his words from any given lesson in one of those little flip books, that he might care to read to Dad or Grandma later on when they ask how school is going. Or, when we get to the point where we know enough to make simple sentences, we might write and illustrate a mini book for fun or a gift! I will base that on his interest, of course.
It is a lovely thing to have a plan in place, and freeing to have one based on a philosophy that is so deeply meaningful to our family.
You might be interested in my two previous posts on Beginning Reading, what we have done with our son up until this point here and here. I hope to share more about how that first lesson when we get there but I anticipate it looking a lot like these 2 blog posts from friends.
I'd love to hear from you, so please leave me your comments below!