Communicating with parents about reading

Discussion in 'First Grade' started by anna9868, Apr 14, 2009.

  1. anna9868

    anna9868 Habitué

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    Apr 14, 2009

    Hi everyone,
    I am a mom of a 1st grader, I started the topic “sets of interesting readers” a while ago. I did some talking and investigation since then, and I see now that I don’t get too much feedback from our teachers, let alone advices. So, I’m back here! :)

    The question is: How do you let your parents know how you are teaching reading and what suggestions you give for them to support/practice reading at home?

    I’ve been reading a book “Phonics from A to Z” where there are such mouthwatering ideas for teachers such as “send home learning kits filled with books and phonics activites”, “hold a reading workshop for parents”, …. Ha! I WISH… I’ve been trying to understand what my child is doing every day for ½ hour at reading support, but it turned out to be way too challenging to get any specific info. Maybe not many parents worry about reading, I don't know...

    Personally, I know too little about phonics, especially how it’s taught to children. I started learning English seriously at the age of 16, and didn’t know about the word ‘phonics’ until I went to college. Therefore, I try to hang on every ‘rule’ or saying that my son brings home from school. Things like “when 2 vowels go walking together, the first one does the talking”. I asked our teacher at the last conference if there are a set of easy rules like that one that I can see somewhere (as opposed to the complicated wording of all these phonics rules). She said she is not sure, and many of them she makes up based on individual needs.

    So, I’m just curious, maybe someone knows if there is a set of simplified phonics rules suggested for parents. And my goal is not to sit down and teach them to my son, but to remind him of them when he is decoding a word incorrectly.

    Anna
     
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  3. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

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    Apr 16, 2009

    The English language is very convoluted. The example you gave as a rule is not truely a rule it is more of a sometimes. ai usually a does the talking, ie usually the e does the talking, and ea is sometimes long and sometimes short e sound but is often explained as if it is always long e sound; just to give you an example of how often this "rule" is not a rule. There are very few strict rules that have no breaking of the rules. The only ones I can think of are some consonant sounds. This is one of the reasons English is considered a difficult language to learn as an adult.
     
  4. Lynnnn725

    Lynnnn725 Connoisseur

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    Apr 18, 2009

    EMonkey is correct, English is difficult to learn as an adult because of all of the rules. There are so many "rule breakers" (as we call them).
    I let parents know what we are learning through a weekly newsletter. I don't get too detailed or else I'd be spending all of my time writing newsletters instead of planning efficient lessons. The phonics changes so frequently that I just let them know the general phonics area we are learning. I might just say: Phonics - silent e
    I do send home more detailed explanation of the comprehension focus (inferring, visualizing, etc).
    If I have a child that seems to be struggling in a certain area (ex: blends such as cl, pl, tr, dr, sn, etc) then I would send a note home and suggest the parents work on it at home with a couple of suggestive activities...such as going on a blends hunt and looking for blends in books read at home and writing them on a piece of paper. Of course I would be working on this during guided reading and having him do something with blends during work station time as well.
     
  5. anna9868

    anna9868 Habitué

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    Apr 18, 2009

    Oh yes, I've gone through this first-hand.
    And it doesn't look like it's easy it is to learn as a child either.
    I just wonder, am I among minority who doesn't believe that school practice is enough if a child is having problem with reading!
     
  6. NightSky

    NightSky Rookie

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    Apr 18, 2009

    Anna,
    You are not alone. Some schools/teachers are quite good about communicating with parents. Others are not.
    If a teacher is "making up" phonics rules as she goes along, she is not teaching phonics systematically. Unfortunately, most future elementary school teachers are not taught in ed school how to teach phonics. Many ed schools only require one course in reading instruction, and, in the vast majority of those Reading Instruction courses, phonics often is not covered at all. (NCTQ Report on Ed Schools, 2006 and 2009). Thus the reason teachers might feel the need to make up rules as they go along.
    You said you wouldn't teach your child yourself, but... why not? You are concerned. There are phonics programs available that are very easy for parents to use. Phonics is NOT difficult to teach with one of the many good programs available. I have known parents and teachers who have themselves become better readers and spellers once they taught their children with a good phonics program.
    At this point, even if your school started explaining what it does during reading time, you have already discovered that it's not enough (or not the correct approach) for your child.
    Here are some programs to look into. They have free assessments online:
    Abecedarian
    Phonics International
    Or even a VERY basic, under $20 program like Alpha-Phonics, used by many homeschoolers, would be helpful.
    Also, a book I would recommend is:
    Why Our Children Can't Read, by Diane McGuinness. She does a great job explaining the different types of struggling readers. Try Interlibrary Loan to find it.
    Good luck.
     
  7. nattles19

    nattles19 Comrade

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    Apr 18, 2009

    I suggest to parents that they read a lot with their children at home, but make sure that they are making their comprehension strategies explicit.

    For example, stopping and asking questions about what you are reading, wondering what a word means and how you might figure it out, or predicting what you think will happen next. Stopping to summarize what has been read before moving on to the next page. A lot of the same things I model for my students during class read-alouds. :)

    I also encourage parents to not jump in and tell their child the word if they are struggling while reading out loud. I give them a bookmark with a list of prompts they can use to help their child choose a strategy to figure out the word: "What would make sense? Skip the word and read to the end of the sentence. Does that look right? If that word was 'green', would it start with a B? The word is here in the picture, take a look." Using phonics is just one aspect of decoding, albeit an important one!

    It's nice that you're taking the time to find out how you can help your child at home. I wish more of the parents of my struggling readers would take the time to do that!
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2009
  8. lv2read

    lv2read Rookie

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    Apr 20, 2009

    Nattles, thank you for the bookmark suggestion. I struggle with helping parents to understand how they can assist their child with their home reading. Early in the school year I put a letter into their home reading bags to offer suggestions as to how parents can help their child with their reading (for eg: don't hide the pictures, don't expect him/her to be able to sound out "enough" in October etc), but I find that the letters don't generally get read, or they disappear altogether.

    A bookmark, with simple, to the point suggestions might just do the trick. Maybe attached to the bag with a string so it doesn't go missing...
     
  9. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Apr 20, 2009

    The question is: How do you let your parents know how you are teaching reading and what suggestions you give for them to support/practice reading at home?

    I start at Back to School night...I am lucky being in grade 2 as most of the parents' have kids who have come up through K and 1 in our district so they know about our philosophy about literacy instruction. We follow a reading and writing workshop approach in which each child is reading books at his/her own independent level with daily focused lessons and ongoing one-on-one conferring with the teacher. I keep parents updated through weekly folders containing student work, quarterly conferences, informal phone conversations.
    I'm not sure why you can't simply request a conference with your son's teachers about his reading development. They should be able to give you a good idea of where he is as a reader and offer you ideas about what you can be doing at home to support him.
     
  10. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Apr 20, 2009

    (This is a quote...)

    Let's face it - English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England or French fries in France . Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.


    And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices? Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?


    If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell? (Dink Note: and one of my favorites and i believe it was George Carlin that asked the question: why do we drive on the parkway and park on the driveway?)

    How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.

    English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

    PS. - Why doesn't 'Buick' rhyme with 'quick'?


    You lovers of the English language might enjoy this.


    There is a two-letter word that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that is 'UP.' It's easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP ? At a meeting, why does a topic come UP? Why do we speak UP and why are the officers UP for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report.


    We call UP our friends. And we use it to brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver; we warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen. We lock UP the house and some guys fix UP the old car. At other times the little word has real special meaning. People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses. To be dressed is one thing, but to be dressed UP is special.


    And this UP is confusing: A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP. We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night.


    We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP! To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP, look the word UP in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4th of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions. If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used. It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don't give UP, you may wind U P with a hundred or more. when it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP. When the sun comes out we say it is clearing UP...


    When it rains, it wets the earth and often messes things UP.


    When it doesn't rain for awhile, things dry UP.


    One could go on and on, but I'll wrap it UP, for now my time is UP, so........it is time to shut UP!
     
  11. anna9868

    anna9868 Habitué

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    Apr 22, 2009

    Nattles, thank you for some good suggestions. I've been working on figuring out things like that on my own. It's way too tempting to just correct the child and go on, but takes practice (and knowledge) to give the right hint!
     
  12. anna9868

    anna9868 Habitué

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    Apr 22, 2009

    NightSky, from the PT conference, I understand our teacher does teach phonics rules. It's when I asked her where she takes those cute easy-to-remember rules like "when 2 vowels go together, first one does the talking", she said that she often makes them up as she goes along.
    (and yes, I have read that this particular rules is true in 40% of cases, hopefully other rules are more consistent :)

    And the reason I was trying to get it out of her is so that I can use rules like that to help my son when he is decoding a word. So far, the only rule that's helping us is the silent e (wherever it applies). This rule is short and easy to use.

    Once in a while I would attempt to use one of the more complicated ones, "This letter usually has a hard sound, only in this case it's an exception..." I loose my son. In fact, I think I've been trying to use the rules a bit too often, because he gets paranoid now: "let's just read, don't tell me those rules!"

    Thanks a lot for phonics program suggestions, I'll definitely look into them
     
  13. NightSky

    NightSky Rookie

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    Apr 23, 2009

    Anna,
    The phonics programs I listed do not refer to rules, much or at all! This is just one reason, among many, that I recommend them.
    I would suggest that you read a bit about "synthetic phonics" online to get an understanding of how it is more complete and more streamlined from the kind of phonics many classroom teachers in the US are familiar with. Synthetic phonics has quite recently become the standard in England and throughout much of Scotland.
    Best wishes.
     
  14. MsX

    MsX Companion

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    Apr 23, 2009

    I find it's hard to education parents about how I'm teaching reading and phonics, mostly because it took me a long time to get the teaching of reading down and I find it hard to accurately communicate all that is necessary in a handout or conference. I do make a sincere effort to explain what happens in my classroom in terms of reading - I do feel some parents are sincerely interesting and some parents are just always going to tell their kids "sound it out" when reading and nothing else. I'll keep trying though!
     

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