October 25, 2012

What is reading?   Often parents tell me that their child is “pretending to read.”  “Really she has just memorized it.”  When I was in graduate school we read a book about children learning to read called “Reading is only the tiger’s tail.”  We learned that there are so many different components to reading.  Sounding out words phonetically is only a very tiny part of reading.  So much of it is memorizing, predicting, and remembering.

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This is why often when we read stories to children we may leave out a last rhyming word and allow them to predict or guess what it is.  Or after a story, we may turn back to a page and ask if they remember what happened on this page.  Pictures are great clues, as are the words themselves, whether children are reading or not.  When we have a song or chant that is also a picture story book, it is wonderful for the children to sit alone and read it to themselves.  I almost put “read” in quotation marks, but, really, it is reading even when they are not deciphering individual letters and words.

Children often want to hear the same story over and over.  This is a great opportunity for memory work and for them to really digest a story so that they can master its telling.  Children who love to read and be read to are learning so much more than “sounding things out” or “sight reading.”  They are learning story-telling and creative word-play.

 

From Joan:  Several of the songs I’ve been singing with the children are counting songs.  In “Way up high in the apple tree”, we count DOWNWARDS as the apples disappear.  Using the same melody, I’ve made up rhymes about disappearing pumpkins, leaves and ghosts, too.  Besides being fun to sing, these songs increase manual dexterity and muscle control as the children hold up the correct number of fingers for each verse.  Lately some children have discovered that there’s more than one way to hold up 3 fingers!  This is a good fine motor exercise as well as a good opportunity for young children to wrap their heads around the concept of number constancy.

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In another song, appropriate to the rainy weather, we cound UPWARDS as “The ants go marching” in increasing numbers.  As I started to sing the second verse about the ants go marching two by two today, someone told met that I had forgotten 3.  Ah Ha!  Different song, different mathematical operation.

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