Friday, April 13, 2012

unschool tools: for reading, we read

I didn’t teach my kids to read.  In fact, I don’t teach them anything ‘school’ related.  I can teach them to take out the trash, wash the dishes, change a bike tire, plant a row of onions but when it comes to education teaching is a tricky idea.  Teaching means: to show or explain, what a minor part of the learning pie that is!  It’s true, I fall more into the ‘schooler camp’ than an unschooler.  We have set times and books with goals and other school like things but I’m going to admit I am a Cruise Director not a Teacher.  I keep the peace, point out where to find the good stuff, and get people safely where they are going.  All my children taught themselves to read, even the ones who went to school-school. 
Whole language and phonics and alphabet songs surround early childhood.  I pointed.  I read.  I sang.  We colored.  We played with language in the sand.  I declared each day a specific letter day.  On an E day, we spied eggs on a plate at breakfast, end & exit & entrance on signs, we named E animals in the car, and made E's out of our spaghetti. 
And slowly, each in their own time... 
The first learned early about 3 years old, her driving force was literature itself and she is in college now still chasing down language and a good story.
The second learned late about 10 years old, his driving force was reading for the computer game FATE.  All those poor Teachers trying to teach if only they would been able to speak his language.
The third learned about 5 years old, he too did it for gaming trying to keep up with his older brother's high scores.
The fourth learned about 4 years old, she did it out of sheer will and determination to do it.

This child has a visual impairment it causes reading to be a little more of a puzzle.  It keeps her progress slow and often cloudy.  We play Scrabble and Boggle, Hang Man and Webkinz, Word Search Games and silly words games with songs.  We point out funny words and when we sound out a word and it makes no sense or it comes out wrong we keep the joke going for days, usually repeating it in a heavy French accent, "Excuse me Ms, did you order the so-do-pop for your boon-nee?".  We rhythm words we read signs.  She writes the grocery list and farm chore lists & we ask her to read them back to us.  We pass notes.  We read the Calendar, the Sunday comics, and she sorts & reads all the mail.

We read to her.  We read in front of her.  We read with her.  She reads to us.  She believes I taught her to read, she believes I teach her many things but I know the truth: she teaches herself I just read what is right in front of me…

This post is part of the Unschooling Tools series hosted by our friends at OLF :)

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