My intention here is not to educate professionals. Trained teachers will learn from professional resources and each other. I want to speak especially to the home-school parent or the concerned support system of an elementary student who wishes to HELP a beloved student to become stronger at reading and writing.
Below, I explain what a balanced literacy program is, so that you, the adult will know that if you are investing time in any of these areas, then you are investing in the literacy education of your beloved student.
- Of primary importance for the beginning reader, is the foundation of SIGHT-WORDS. More on that here >>>
- PHONICS- knowledge of letters and sounds is of primary importance, with complexity of letter patterns increasing through the grades.
- Spelling, Word Work, Journaling
- Practicing to develop fluency. The goal is for the student to at least read at a rate similar to his or her speech, and with expression that sounds similar to normal speech.
- Increasing reading stamina matters. Stamina refers to ability of the student to stay focused and engaged in the reading process, first as a listener, and later as a reader. A balanced literacy program will provide opportunity for all aspects of stamina to grow.
- Opportunity to develop appreciation for literature through exposure to different genres.
- Handwriting. Yes, believe it or not handwriting CAN absolutely have a bearing on reading, so attention to correct formation of letters can actually HELP the struggling reader.
- Motivation is key. A student that lacks motivation can be the most difficult to work with. In this blog, I do address this vital issue. 13 Tips to Keep Your Child Motivated to Practice Reading and Writing
Are you working hard to build in those eight areas? Time spent trying to build skills and accomplishment in any of those eight areas, can make a BIG DIFFERENCE.
Feel like you are spinning your wheels and getting no where? Classroom teachers feel that way sometimes as well.
I will tell you that it took a few years for me to learn the emotional “pattern” of teaching first grade. In brief, it went something like this: October, November, near panic as I reflected on how far we needed to go, and how little progress we had made so far. At this point my only option was to “soldier on,” and do the best that I could do, every day, for every child, given their abilities and motivation.
Past the panic, through December, January, February, March, I would go. By February I MAY see glimmers of hope. Usually by the end of March and in April and May I would see more HOPE and accomplishment. In May when we pulled beginning of the year journals, and reading scores, and compared with end of May data, THAT is when I could finally CELEBRATE.
You persevere through your doubts in effort to support your learner and likely you also will find wonderful reasons to celebrate nine months or a year down the road.
Do be vigilant. Do not be slack. If you are a home-school parent and suspect that your child has special needs or special help, I encourage you to use public school as a resource. You can enroll your child, and request testing for special services immediately. Doing so will not take away your right to home-school at any point, if you still choose this challenge for yourself, and insight and information that you gain from the school diagnostician and special education teacher(s) could assist you in your own planning for the best interest of your child, what ever his or her special needs are.
I am here to consult with as well. You can e-mail me or private message me.
God bless you and your kiddos,