Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Beginning Readers

Over at the Castle

Because my boy is eleven, (ten when I started) 
this blog often focuses on that age group. I do
try to look back, but I also appreciate and post
tips for younger kids.
Fortunately, there's a wonderful group of moms
of kids with special needs that I know on and off
line. What follows is a chat about teaching your
young child to read sight words.
K: I'm wondering if I need to sell a kidney to pay for tutoring.
First grade homework is going to kill me!! 
Well, maybe not the homework but a certain first grader I know. 
One day he knows his sight words, the next it's like he has never seen them. 
Don't know if it's because he is tired or if it's normal.                              
Any books or resources to read about helping a little one?                                        Any classes or workshops to attend?    
L: Write each word on a separate 3x5 index card and tape it to a door. 
He must say the word before he enters the door                                             
(bedroom, parent's bedroom, front door, garage door, etc.)  
make it a game and he will get a lot of exposure seeing them on a regular basis. 
Change out weekly or when mastered. Hope this helps!
J: We drill with index cards. Five new words a week, starting with Primary Dolch list. Try and show the little guy each word five times, just sitting down and flashing them.... we do a zero second delay for the first few days -- meaning, we just show Charlie the card and say the word. After a couple days of that we start giving him five seconds.... meaning, we show him the word and wait silently for five seconds, if he doesn't say it then we say it for him and ask him to repeat it. Sometimes he needs a verbal prompt "read" just to get him unstuck. But this works really well for us. After a week he's usually mastered them. We start news words the next week, and a couple of times a week we show him the words he learned previously to make sure he remembers them. As we moved along we started to use the learned words for fill in the blank sentences. That also helped with handwriting practice.... sorry that was so convoluted, happy to show you sometime if that doesn't make sense.
K: We use index cards too. It just gets so frustrating sometimes. Try the Vanderbilt reading clinic 
  J: Our strategy was a little like L's, except we labeled practically 
everything in the house using a label maker (chair, floor, clock, window, etc..). 
Once he had an opportunity to examine these with no pressure for a bit, 
I would write same words on post-it notes (starting with just one word to 
keep it simple), and he would match by sticking post-it on labeled item. 
After all these were mastered, we removed labels and just gave post-
it's for him to stick in appropriate and varying places 
(still window, but different window) to check for comprehension and 
JS: We did that, loved that my kid recognized "refrigerator" 
before he had a clue how to say it. But what to do after you've 
labelled and mastered all the nouns in the house? If anybody is 
interested, here's a link to the 220 Sight Words (Dolch List) 
that is used, it's separated into pre-primer, etc. and there are 
some great lists and printables here, too.
*the above chat was lightly edited-any mistakes are mine.
Many thanks to all who contributed
their wisdom-I withheld names except
for Leisa's (she said I could link
to her wonderful blog) but friends, 
please feel free to comment
and take credit if you wish. 
-Spectrum Mom 
P.S. The book at the top is a rhyming 
sing-songy fun version of "over in the
meadow" with knights and dragons-just
right for this age group and for kids who
like patterns.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Back to the Books

Big Nate Strikes Again

I'm finding it very hard to get back in the blog.
My apologies if anyone's missed this weekly
word of  .  .   . wisdom? Perhaps
screed of struggle is more accurate.
My boy continues to pick up picture books in
preference to others, so I keep looking for a
compromise. Big Nate, like the Wimpy Kid
books, embellishes (or interrupts) its narrative 
with a lot of pictures. Author Peirce alternates
text and short comic strips. The cartoons are sometimes
Nate's thoughts, but not always. This is fine for 
the usual reader, but not useful for a rule oriented
one mainly looking for patterns and word play.
Which makes me think it would be cool to find a book
which always used drawings for the protagonist's thoughts
and regular text for what is actually happening. 
For kids who do not understand that you are not thinking
the same things they are (theory of mind), this could
help make a needed demarcation between interior
and exterior life.
On its own merits (instead of my wish list), 
Big Nate is engaging and accessible.
The fact that it took us half an hour to read
eleven pages of not dense at all text gives you an idea 
of how unfocused my kid currently is about text.
I have known for a long time my son pays
more attention to the page numbers than the
characters and prefers word play and poetry to
the most exciting adventure story. 
But after months of struggling through
summer reading I think that narrative holds no
appeal for him at all. Neither fiction or non-fiction
intrigue him into asking "but why?" or "what happens
Still, after reading Big Nate with his dad, he at least sat
looking at it on his own for a while. He asked about
words while reading it, so the level is fine for him-
an eleven year old sixth grader (!how did that happen?) 
with autism. In general, the book targets the same
audience as Diary of a Wimpy Kid 
with a similar setting (school),
themes (teachers, bullies, sports),  and characters
(underachievers, brains, jocks). 
Completely different wish list idea: 
I'd like to see one of these books with a slacker 
girl, they're either smart and annoying or sweet 
and distant.
Both my boys are remarkably good-looking 
(completely unbiased opinion) so I'd like them to 
have a better understanding of girls than is offered 
by boy kidlit.
I have read them a bit of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Judy
Blume and Cynthia Rylant. 
Anyone have other suggestions?
-Spectrum Mom