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  1. #1
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    Default Teaching writing instead of reading?

    Hi. M daughter is 3.5 years old. I started her on the doman method with sight words from about 20 months, on and off. She is now reading easy readers and recognises lots of small words outside of context of a book, like my, and, the, said, dad, live, etc. Maybe 50+ words in total.

    I was really pleased with how she is going until her kindy teacher spoke with me the other day. She said she is behind in her writing and believes it is because she has been taught to memorise words rather than work them out phonetically. She does know the sounds of the letters, but I know we need to do more work on that and practice building words now like sat, cat, bat, etc. She is only just now showing signs of starting to be able to put the sounds together.

    I'm interested in opinions on the way they teach literacy. She says they DON'T teach reading. Instead they teach phonics, and they focuses on getting the kids to write. They will draw a picture and say "ok, now write about what you have drawn." My daughter will say "I dont' know how" because of course she doesn't know how! (she can write a few letters), whereas the other kids just either do scribbles or write whatever letters they know. The teacher reckons in time as they get good at their phonics, they will just naturally start to from real words (not with correct spelling) and then once they get to a certain point with their reading, they give them a book and the child will be able to read it without having been taught how to read.

    I saw examples of the other childrens' work so I believe it works, however I don't want to give up on the progress we have made so far with her reading. But I also don't want her to have problems at school/kindy because of how I'm teaching her at home.

    I guess this boils down to the phonics/whole word debate, but with the writing aspect brought into it. Just after anyone's ideas - if your child has learnt to read and write this way. Or if your child had trouble learning to write after being taught whole words first. The teacher is concerned she won't try to write a word if she doesn't already know how to spell it but I can understand my daughter saying she doesn't know how to if she doesn't even know how to write the letters first.

    Any input would be most appreciated!

    ETA - We love the preschool she's at and there are no other real options around here.

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    Sorry but I can't imagine a 3.5 year old being behind in writing - how ridiculous! I would chill out and Focus on play instead of Reading or writing Tbh.

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    They need to know both. There are sight words like the M100 or M200. That has words like My, the. For example with the to sound it out phonetically you would not come up the.

    So yes they do need to know phonics but they need to learn sight words as well. My daughter is at prep. They are starting with phonics and then sight words in 2nd term. If you go on youtube and write Jolly Phonics there are the songs for the sounds of the letters. They make them so easy to remember. My older child still remembers the actions that go with all the sounds.

    With the Jolly Phonics as the learn the sound they are also learning to write the letter in the air and then tracing and writing it independently.

    As for her being behind at 3.5yrs I don't agree. Focus on it being fun!

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    I understand what your teacher is saying.
    I've heard this being referred to as "barking at print".

    But I have found that this is often referred to older children and cannot see how it would apply here. What you have written about your child, especially given her age, sounds like the usual progress for a child of your age learning literacy. It's certainly how my child learned.

    I also base this on my children's progress and what I've assisted him with in their quest to read, write and comprehend which are taught hand in hand. I marvel at how your teacher is able to teach one and not the other. (And at 3 my son was not writing passages!)

    Given what you have written about what your teacher has said and has expected your 3 year old to do, I have doubts about her ability to teach literacy.
    Last edited by Caviar; 17-02-2012 at 14:52.

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    Quote Originally Posted by twotrunks View Post
    Sorry but I can't imagine a 3.5 year old being behind in writing - how ridiculous! I would chill out and Focus on play instead of Reading or writing Tbh.
    This. She is 3.5, leave the reading and writing until school. You don't want her first year of school to be boring because she is so far ahead. Sure, read books together, do lots of drawing, get her interested in learning, but keep the focus on fun.

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    How crazy! I agree with the others that the teacher thinks she understands literacy (from what you're saying), but a 3.5yo is doing well if they scribble for drawing, let alone do ANY writing. So, to say she's behind in writing words because you've taught her some sight words is plain ridiculous! The goal for 4yo kindergarten at my ds's Kinder (where most kids are 5.5 or older when they finish) is that they can write their own name by the end of the year!

    As for phonics vs whole words both are needed. If your dd is showing interest in reading then one option is Reading Eggs which is an online literacy program for young children (up to 12 years old). My ds started using it at 3.5 and still loves it. It is an ABC thing, so it's Australian and it teaches phonics and letters to start with and eventually they learn some sight words too.

    I only believe in child-led learning for this age though. I don't think that 'teaching' your child to read (eg. by flash cards) when they are not particularly interested is of use. But, if your child is interested, then see what happens. the most important thing at age 3 though is that your child is read to, plays games, does puzzles, talks, etc . Learning words, writing, etc, etc is not needed for future success (that comes at school).

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    I am thinking that perhaps your pre school teacher said writing when what she really meant was writing behaviours that develop before writing? Kids do play writing, squiggles and pretend notes before any real writing. Does your DD do this type of play? Not that it is a problem if she isn't, but I am just wondering if that is what the teacher is looking for. Play writing develops stuff like, the purpose of writing ( eg writing a list, is different from writing a letter), and different styles, eg a pretend book will most likely have pretend words and illustrations, and most kids begin to mimic types of writing they have seen and practise where to start writing, what side of the page we start on how we write letters grouped together to make words and then words grouped together to make longer writing... ( although this is still being learnt for years after preschool, my 6 year old is still adjusting to this. ) . any literacy needs a balanced approach. I'm not a fan of learning words by flashcards because to me the most important part of reading is making sense of what is being read, and enjoying the experience. but yes, learning some words by rote/memory rather than phonics is important too. Also the mindset to be able to have a go and make mistakes. Which it sounds like your teacher is also a bit concerned about. there is lots of making mistakes in learning, and kids who need to be perfect have a hard time of it imo. I was one, and my kids do it too. so now we talk a lot more at home about mistakes we made and how we learnt stuff from them...

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    My DD4 was an early reader. She showed a keen interest in books and eagerly asked me to teach her to read. I did so by reading books with her, pointing at the words as I did so, and choosing one word per page (or section, or line) for her to guess/read. As she gained confidence, I left more and more for her. Each time, if she was hesitant, I would tell her after a few seconds, and she would repeat it after me. (Actually she repeated all the words after me.) She quickly progressed to reading along with me repeating after her instead.

    At three and a half, when she started preschool, she could ready at about a year two level. Back then they didn't do any reading in preschool or prep, and the only writing they did was their own names. Going to preschool and prep took up too much of her time and we were not able to keep up with her reading. After those two years she had dropped back a little, but quickly retrained once she started year one. And within six months was back to her year two reading level. From there she has always been an accellerated reader, and now in year six is having difficulty finding age appropriate books that are suitable for her reading/comprehension level also.

    However, irrespective of her ability to read, she had no ability to write at that time. She couldn't even colour between the lines. Her fine-motor co-ordination was slightly behind. It took the first six months of preschool for her to learn how to write the first letter of her name. By the end of her preschool year, she was attempting the rest of her name (two letters, one repeated) but it really wasn't legible. Halfway through prep she had finally managed to consistently write her name so that others could understand it. She did however learn how to colour in pictures in preschool. I see no problem with her writing these days.

    I've never before heard of the approach you suggested they use at your daughters kindy. Early writing skills I have seen taught in school (year one and prep) involve tracing then drawing patterns rather than letters. Sometimes it would be curves, other times zigzags. It was explained to me that these were pre-writing activities to teach the children the skills needed to form letters later when they start writing.

    Perhaps you could search for pre-writing activities like I explained above for your daughter. These might supplement the reading program you have been using.

    ----------------

    As for your daughter not being comfortable writing because she doesn't know how, that could be a personality issue also. My DD1 was like that. If she was told to draw a straight line, she would use a ruler. When a teacher instructed her to draw a straight line without using a ruler she objected that she couldn't. The teacher told her she had to try, and she just got frustrated by drawing an almost-straight line, rubbing it out, and repeating. It just was not something she could cope with at that age. DD1 ended up taking art right through high school (yrs 9-12) and performed really well in that class.

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    Writing is taught before reading in Steiner education. Perhaps you can google 'Steiner and literacy' or something similar? Having said that, they don't learn to read until they are 7. Letter formation etc happens before all of that. It is a really interesting concept and it does work well IMO.

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    IMO Pre literacy and numeracy at this age is important. I don't expect my 3.5 students to be writing anything but have pre literacy skills meaning scribbling and pretend writing across the page that mimic writing left to right and down the page.
    I often say to my preschool children to write what they want, stories, recipes, what they drew etc and I don't actually expect writing just attempts and my older one will write a series of letters they know

    Your done a great job that your child enjoys reading and is learning words. But I wouldn't be stressing about doing more.

    I would be encouraging her to draw and write when she wants to draw and talk to her when you are writing about what your doing. Eg: if your writing a shopping list ask do you want to write one too? Tell her it doesn't matter if she doesn't know to just try and pretend.

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