Archives For unschool

APP: “Reading aloud to your child matters.”

I was so happy to read the American Academy of Pediatrics’ public announcement: “Reading aloud to your child starting at birth is important.”

Why is it important?

First, the first three years of life is one of the most important times for healthy brain development. Reading aloud has a significant effect on that development.

Bella and JulieSecond, reading aloud noticeably increases vocabulary development. It teaches other important communication skills like voice intonation and facial expression changes to demonstrate nonverbal communication cues.

Third, reading aloud increases pre-literacy skills, like listening comprehension, which will help your child succeed once formal school begins.

What are some of your favorite books to read aloud?

“This is the first time the AAP has called out literacy promotion as being an essential component of primary care pediatric practice. Fewer than half of children are being read to every day by their families, and that number hasn’t really changed since 2003. It’s a public health message to parents of all income groups, that this early shared reading is both fun and rewarding.”

Click for more about new AAP Policy.

Dr. Pamela High

I was reading aloud with one of my students the other day and thought, “I need to write about this.” Even my elementary age students and daughter have books that they love to hear read aloud. Here are my top-five picks that your elementary-age child will love to hear:

2014 07 01 Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryFirst, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl is a favorite for its imaginative nature and elements of surprise. Dahl’s characters are funny and of course what child does not want to imagine sampling tasty treats in a chocolate factory. Even if your kiddos have seen the movie, all of you will enjoy the innuendos missing from the movie when you read aloud the book.

2014 07 01 Charlottes WebMy kids love hearing Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White for many reasons. First, it is about animals – a relationship between a pig and a spider. But what intrigues them most is the friendship between these two unlikely creatures and how their friendship helps them to both grow on the inside and outside.

2014 07 01 Grimms Fairy TalesThe stories in Grimm’s Fairy Tales have a bit of a dark side to them but that is what the kids enjoy most. For example, “the ash maiden” – essentially what the modern day Cinderella story is based on- has a darker ending than Disney portrays. For example in this story, the birds poke out the eyes of the stepsisters for their cruel and evil ways. A great set of tales that teach moral lessons.

For more about reading fairy tales aloud, read Einstein on Fairy Tales and Education by Maria Popova.

2014 07 01 The Giving TreeThe Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein is short but great to read aloud. The book is poetic. So when you read it aloud, you and your child will feel the words. In the story, a tree loves a boy and gives to him until there is nothing physically left to give. It is a story of how love grows and evolves over time.

2014 07 01 The Secret GardenFinally, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett is appropriate for your older child (second grade and older) due to its length (331 pages). An orphaned girl is forced to live on her Uncle’s estate where she discovers a secret garden. It is a story of her emotional growth as she transforms the garden into a thing of beauty and discovers some deep hidden secrets along the way. Time will fly as your imagination takes you to the mysterious, magical garden.

These are my top five favorite books to read aloud to elementary-age kids.

What are some of your kid’s favorite books to have read aloud?

Many parents ask me what are some of my favorite reading programs for use in their unschool or home school programs.

Because I work with children age four to eleven and from different backgrounds, English language learners for example, I rely on materials from three exceptional programs. These three programs offer the flexibility and range that accommodates the different abilities of my students. Any of these programs would be excellent additions to your unschooler or homeschooler program.

First, the Wilson reading system is very phonetically structure. It breaks down the rules and structures of reading in a way that makes them easily taught. The materials include phonetically controlled stories and sentences, and workbooks to support the rules used and learned. This program is great for second graders and adults alike. It offers training for parents and teachers. I found the training helpful but not essential to using the materials which are very self-explanatory.

2014 06 24 bumpy gridSecond, the Orton-Gillingham approach to teaching reading is very multisensory and follows a sequence in teaching letter sounds so kids can start reading words after learning just four letter sounds. It focuses on a lot of tactile learning using sand trays and grids with paper and crayons to allow kids to feel how to form the letters or remember how to spell sight words.

Third, Explode the Code by Nancy Hall is an excellent series of workbooks that helps support the Wilson reading and Orton-Gillingham programs. They are designed for preschoolers and elementary age children. However, you can adapt these materials for struggling older readers or English language learners.

These are my top three reading approaches/programs that will easily complement our roadmap2reading apps.

What are some reading programs you recommend or have found useful in working with your kids?