Parent Educator Newsletter Vol 1 Issue 2
NOTE: This newsletter is posted as an interesting historical look at educational options in the Haida Gwaii School District in 1999. Also, although 15 years or so have passed, many of the options and suggestions found in this newsletter are still viable, and will be of interest to those looking for information on educational alternatives in British Columbia.
N. Hill, Pub. Volume No. 1 Issue No. 2 Feb. 1999
Parents As Teachers
As a parent, you know your child better than any educator. You have observed your child’s development from before he was born so you will be able to determine in which ways he learns best. Then, when you are spending time with your child, you can involve him in the kinds of learning experiences from which he will most profit. You should also strive to involve your child in some other kinds of experiences, so he can grow up able to learn in many ways and in many areas.
As a parent, you can provide your child with a wonderful education, because you know your child so well and care so much about her. Also, you have a smaller group of children to work with than does a school teacher, so you can provide a more individualized education for her. And since you are with your child every day, year after year, you can see how she is growing and developing, and you can help her plan for the future. You may even choose to teach your child at home once she becomes of school age. And no doubt you would find you can do very well indeed. If you prefer your child to go to school, don’t forget that you still have many hours each day to continue to help her learn, both by giving guidance in homework, and by continuing with the life-long learning you’ve been doing ever since she was born!
Quotes from Some Home Educators
Do you wonder if you are capable of being a parent-teacher? Here are some quotes from parents who have been involved in helping out with their children’s educations. You’ll discover that being a parent- educator is really just a part of life.
“Our Perfect Homeschool” by Tamar Eaton
“We have a *lifestyle* of learning and it is a relaxed method which truly lasts year round, often including weekends and evenings! …. We work on our relationships with each other…We encourage teamwork– in everything from caring for the house to cooking meals and doing laundry, and helping each other out.
Then comes academics…we stress the basics, giving our children the tools they need to go on and learn things on their own. We encourage and train them to be self motivated and responsible for their own studies as early as possible– with us available if they need us and as their #1 cheerleaders!
We don’t overburden our children with too many assignments, so that they have plenty of time to pursue their own interest studies, too. We encourage their love of reading by reading aloud to them from an early age, then teaching them to read when they’re ready and continuing to encourage them to enjoy good books of all sorts– nonfiction and biographies, as well as fiction. So much learning occurs painlessly this way!
“Homeschooling with Principles” by Diana Waring
#1 Children are children. They will eventually become adults, but right now they are children…. What does that mean? It means that we must understand that our children need to be carefully and patiently taught little by little, precept upon precept, line by line. As they grow older, they will handle more responsibility and reason in increasing maturity. But it is a matter of time and careful nurturing…
#2 Children need quality time – quantities and quantities of it. And the kind of time children need is what only parents can provide…. my children needed me to share my very being with them – my life, my experiences, my hobbies, my passions, my desires….. What makes YOU unique? What background do YOU have? What do YOU love doing? What skills, hobbies, and passions do YOU have which you can share with your children?…. The one thing that NO ONE else can give our children is us….
The Experienced Homeschool Mother’s Principle: Analyze your children and their needs, build them up over time, plant seeds of curiosity, add your heart, good books, and time, carefully watching over their lives.”
A home school mom
“The important thing is not whether they learn Math Facts or the Rivers of South America or any other data. The gift that is in your power to give them is an awareness that whatever they need to know can be learned, and a sense that life only becomes more enjoyable as we learn more and more about the world around us. You don’t have to “teach” them this — live it, show them, pursue your own interests and share your genuine pleasure at the new things you learn every day.”
John Gatto, New York City Teacher of the Year. “An Award-Winning Teacher Speaks Out.”
“When children are given whole lives…. they learn to read, write, and do arithmetic with ease if those things make sense of the life that unfolds around them….
What can be done to improve education?….Pouring the money back into family education might kill two birds with one stone, repairing families as it repairs children…. Independent study, community service, adventures in experience, large doses of privacy, a thousand different apprenticeships–these are all powerful, cheap, and effective ways to start a real reform of schooling. But no large-scale reform is ever going to repair our damaged children and our damaged society until we force the idea of “school” open–to include *family* as the main engine of education.
The curriculum of family is at the heart of any good.”
Parents Teaching Reading
To keep the future doors of learning open, children need a large base of information about the world they live in, solid skills in reading, writing and math, and habits of serious, focused study. Reading is a VERB, an ACTION! John Holt says of reading, and of other “school subjects”:
“…what we have mistakenly come to think of as ‘bodies of knowledge’…are not nouns [things] but verbs [actions], not things that exist independently somewhere out there, but things that people do….. we cannot separate an act from the skills involved in the act…. Behind the act there is a purpose… Reading is not a skill, but an act…THOSE WORDS MAKE THINGS HAPPEN.”
Reading is a TOOL for all other learning. If a child becomes a good reader, she can use the reading tool to learn almost anything she sets her mind to learn about. She can communicate her knowledge to others. A good reader can use books, computers, and all kinds of communication tools to learn whatever she desires to know.
Have you wondered what you can do at home to help your children become better readers and writers? In *Kids Have All the Write Stuff*, authors Sharon Edwards and Robert Malloy suggest you ask yourself the following kinds of questions. Your answers will help you decide what you can do to help your children become successful readers and writers.
1. What reading does your child see you do regularly at home? How often?
2. What writing does your child see you do regularly at home? How often?
3. Who reads to your child? What is read? How often? When?
4. How often does your child read at home? What does he read? Does he read alone, with help, or both?
5. How often does your child write at home? What does she write? Alone or with help? Is it displayed or published in some way?
6. Is there a regular time for reading or writing in your home?
7. Do you and your child do writing activities together? What do you write?
8. Do you play games, sing, or make up stories or poems when you are with your child? Which? How often? Do you record any of them?
9. Do you think of your child as a reader: memorizing, discussing, reading his own writing, reading independently?
10. Do you think of your child as a writer: scribbling, dictating, inventing spellings, doing different kinds of writing?
11. What do you think is the teacher’s (daycare’s) role in teaching your child to read and write? What is the family’s role?
12. Do you know how reading and writing are taught in your child’s school/daycare?
13. Do you know about different teaching methods (process approach, invented spelling, whole language, phonics, etc)?
14. Does your child have pencils, crayons, craft supplies, paper, notebooks, etc available for use at home?
15. Does your child regularly use these materials? What does s/he do with them?
16. Does your child use a computer or typewriter at home? What does s/he do with it?
Reading starts at home
We do not begin to learn to read when we go to school, or when someone teaches us the alphabet. We start to learn to read from the day we are born. During this extremely important reading stage, sometimes known as “reading readiness,” a child should develop a broad vocabulary base, and a broad foundation of hands-on experiences and information. This stage prepares him to read for both knowledge and understanding, and creates a desire to be able to read for himself.
What can you do to prepare your child to read?
Parents can be wonderful reading instructors, no matter their level of reading ability! Reading readiness skills can be more usefully learned around home, in practical ways , than by using fancy workbooks. What can you do to prepare your child to read?
Talk to your child a lot — not in baby talk, but in everyday spoken language. Involve him in as many activities you do as possible (hands-on-experiences) and explain and discuss those activities and experiences as they happen (vocabulary and information). Read aloud to him daily. If you aren’t a very experienced reader yourself, take a literacy course, or simply start by reading very simple books, and move on to more complex books as your ability improves through practice. Use both children’s books and higher level books. With the higher level books, after reading, interpret the information and answer your child’s questions in your own words. Discuss the pictures in the books. Use quality literature. Teach your children simple rhymes, such as Mother Goose nursery rhymes. Have the child recite the rhymes aloud to a grandparent or other friend or relative. Point out labels and signs that your child sees often, and read them aloud. When he draws a picture, ask him about it, and write down his explanation in his own words. Encourage him to “read it back” to you. Have your child tell you about his experiences; write them down and read them back to the child — or better yet, write them as a letter to be sent to a friend or relative, or to be read aloud to the child by a grandparent. Listen to your child, and respond. Encourage your child to speak often. Let him listen in to “adult” conversations, and to join in those conversations. Use role-playing experiences to teach manners or moral issues; drama and speaking are excellent ways to prepare for reading. Get storybook cassettes from the library.
The “natural” activities of speaking and listening and doing are most important at this stage: involve your child in your life as much as possible, and involve yourself in his life (PLAY with him!).
When is a Child Ready to Formally Learn to Read?
She is ready when she has had many of the above experiences, over and over. Your child should by this time be speaking accurately, clearly, and distinctly; and have a fairly broad vocabulary. To “test” for readiness, try introducing flashcards and teaching simple sounds, such as the “Ssss” on the stop sign. If she seems interested, it is probably time to introduce basic reading skills. If she seems uninterested or fights against your efforts, it is wise to back off and continue with the “reading readiness” experiences.
WHAT AGE? Hundreds of studies have shown that different children are “ready to read” at different ages, ranging from about 4 years of age up to 10 years of age. Many children simply are not physically ready to read until 8 years of age or older, because they have not developed sufficient hand-eye coordination, their eyes are not developed enough to handle small print (many “early readers” end up wearing glasses because of eye strain caused by reading print their eyes are not developed enough for). Often children’s nervous systems are not sufficiently developed until older ages, as well.
Studies have repeatedly shown that if a child is allowed to live in a environment rich in listening, speaking, all kinds of positive experiences, and being read to regularly, she will learn to read, when ready, in a matter of a few weeks or months, what the average Kindergarten, grade 1 and grade 2 students take 3 years of schooling to learn to read.
Expose your child to all kinds of “real stuff”: science, music, art, literature, money, work, safety, faith, people, all kinds of interests. The children with “experience” have larger vocabularies, more advanced thinking skills, can read on more topics, and understand higher level materials.
Teaching Beginning Reading at Home
In teaching formal reading, it is important to use all three senses — visual, kinesthetic, auditory — even though your child may be stronger in one or two of them. You need to help your child HEAR distinct differences in letter sounds, SEE distinct shapes (for example, by using flashcards), and FEEL by using his hands to make letters and words (by writing on paper or on the blackboard, feeling the shapes of plastic letters, or drawing letters in a sand tray, for example). While it is important to use a full variety, you should emphasize whatever helps your individual child the most.
Date: February 1999