15/12/2009

Balancing the books

I have been reading a couple of books on a literacy theme, Lost for Words by John Humphrys (Radio 4's Today programme) and Teaching Your Child to Read and Write by Valerie Douglas. Both are 'interesting' for different reasons.

I found Humphrys' book to be quite a polemic, summed up a quote from the book "I love arguing". He doesn't like linguistic rules being stretched too far, but neither does he like pedants picking up on every last error. It seems to me that the middle ground that is left is both very narrow and very hard to pin down. My confusion is perhaps down to the fact that I usually have to read each example of bad practice several times to determine what the problem might be.

Similarly Teaching Your Child to Read and Write has it's own individual perspective, written by an ex-teacher it is making the case for teachers not having the sole responsibility for a child's literacy skills. I felt that she wanted parents to both take a lead role in the development of children's reading and writing skills, but also to bow to teachers superior knowledge on the same subject. And again I was confused as to how to find the right balance.

To finish on a slightly more positive note, the Teaching Your Child to Read and Write was lent to me, by a reading mentor at Parkwood Academy, not to read cover to cover, but because there are a range of reading tests set out, that are indeed potentially really useful, so thanks Mandy.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Developing reading skills at home is an interesting topic. For a long time, I have believed it's beneficial to language acquisition and increases your children's vocabulary and engagment with books.

The comes a time when your child insists they can read to themselves and if like me you still want to add a comment in their reading records, it can be hard to get them to sit with you for even 5 minutes. We are encouraged to read with/read to our children for 5 mins (at least) per day.

About a year or two ago, we started reading series of books. So we started with the Lemony Snicket books. All 13 of them. We took it in turns to read aloud and when we had access to the audio versions, we read along. Maybe that's a way to engage reluctant readers?

Another way to help a child develop reading skills can be to look at everyday objects and simple "non-book" formats. Words appear in so many places, we can't avoid them. Getting the activity to be fun is the key.

We used to play spelling games and "I spy ... a word" in the car, on the way to school, on holiday, etc. Another game is going through the alphabet using themes. I don't think they have outgrown this. If anything, they become more perceptive and aware of their surroundings, and their experiences in them.

Sorry for going off track a bit.

Loulrc

Richard Hanks said...

Thanks Loulrc, great stuff.

We have some mini plays that we suggest people use in their reading partnerships. They are great ways to 'share the work' when reading. It's important to remeber how exhausting reading aloud for any length of time can be!

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