This is my sharing on how i began reading…. with my mum.
I did not learn reading via Phonics. My mum who wasn’t even an English speaking parent read to me everyday without fail. Many times a day in fact. Sometimes requested by me… or when she’s done with work (she was a SAHM and a work-from-home-seamstress) she will initiate a story-telling session for us.
She pointed the words to me each time she read and i would just listen attentively. She never forced me to point to the words. During that time, i love to point to the pictures/illustrations which accompanied the stories and ask A LOT of questions for her to answer, which she DID! From her answers, i began to feel more and more interested to learn what those alphabets represent. I began to capture the words she read everyday and when i grew older, i initiated my interest to take over the role of pointing to the words. Mum let me… so, i began pointing to the words but didn’t really verbalize them… Mum still let me be…
Then, one day as she was reading the same story i just read it along with her. As my interest in capturing the words continued, i eventually began reading with her as she read. She didn’t stop reading the books though she knew i could already read some of them… We read together. This gave me confidence. It gave confidence that i would not read it wrongly cos mum read with me. Finally came the phase where i verbally told mum, "I can do it myself, mum…"
And mum let me. She sat with me throughout the time and listened attentively. She wasn’t a loud-compliment-kinda-mum. She was more of the silent-praiser. Her smile… and the warmth from that acknowledging smile spurred me on.
I didn’t get rewards nor praises. Being able to spend time with her daily, just reading together… in itself was a rewarding experience for me. For us. This nature is now practised by some parents who may believe that the nature of over-complimenting children is not healthy.Over-complimenting in the sense that, anything the child does… regardless how small, is being highly praised.
Mum : Oh! Wow! You managed to write letter a. Fantastic. I’m so proud of you! Mummy’s clever boy! You did so good!
For the parents who believe in self-satisfaction, the children grow up to learn that success in itself IS the satisfaction. These parents find in the long run, one will run out of praise and the child will not be motivated to pursue on his/her own with confidence. Not advocating here, but only mere sharing..
Likewise for the reward system. As children, my parents never implemented the reward system mainly due to the fact we couldn’t really afford much of a physical reward aniwaes… It will be just that from time to time, we’ll all go out for a good meal outside… or get to play at the toy shop… (only play, not buy anything) … or have a fun day out having a family picnic… (etc) Even going to grandma’s house was a treat. We were raised to enjoy the simple pleasures in life which in turn felt highly so rewarding without knowing it was a reward.
Parents who do not practise the reward system find that a child should not do something just to be rewarded…. If for example in the aspects of learning… the child should learn cause he/she has to and likes to… not for the sake of rewards. Again not siding this characteristics but only for mere sharing.
Phonics is but only one of the ways to nurture a reader. Not necessarily a fantastic method, but one of the methods…… as i have highlighted in a few of my posts, the delivery of the teaching person is imperative – for a successful delivery in the effectiveness of learning reading using the Phonics method.
Phonics has also been known to slow down the reading process of a handful of children as they had to keep deciphering and decoding the words to keep on reading. Phonics does however, improve diction… in our pronunciation. Phonics can help a child read clearly and speak clearly. And for a true Phonics believer and reader, children can be trained to speak ala Queen’s English as a result of all the phonetic lessons!
Then lastly i would like to add that in my line of work, i have met the few who do not have "an ear" for Phonics. No matter how you try, the child or parent, just cannot make out that the letters can represent sounds. These unique few can manage individual letter sounds, but can NEVER put sounds together to form words. No matter how hard these guys try, they cannot seem to make the connection between the sounds.
So, there isn’t a hard & fuss rule that a child MUST learn reading only via Phonics…. As parents, WE know… and WE understand our children best. Use our children’s learning abilities and learning strengths to best showcase & maximize their learning potential. Go with how our children learn best. Do not worry if your child just cannot seem to master a concept, or a language…. or a skill…. if at first they don’t succeed, try other ways!
Besides, there isn’t only one Phonics approach in real time… (now)