I am passionate about allowing children to learn through play experiences and avoiding forced academics and rote memorization of letters, sounds, phonics, etc. For many parents whose children have hit the "pre-k" age, doubt can begin to set in. Friends' children begin reciting/performing those "skills" they've learned in their academic programs, and we begin to wonder if we should be doing more.
Last year, I was told of a wonderful book, which I have since then read twice and so appreciated. Reading Magic, by Mem Fox, addresses how exactly it is that children learn to read without forced academics. The book serves as an encouragement for parents who are taking this "road less traveled" in regards to their children's education/literacy. It is a piece that I think every parent ought to read as early in their child's life as possible.
Teacher Tom has blogged a bit about literacy in the past. One of his posts that I particularly enjoyed can be found here. I have passed that link as well as an encouragement to read Reading Magic on to our school parents. This past Monday, we focused our monthly parent meeting on early literacy. At the meeting, one of our local children's librarians shared a variety of fun ideas with us, I shared a bit about Reading Magic, and we held a brief of discussion on literacy as well.
In that discussion, one of our parents (who is also a teacher) remembered a quote she had hanging on her wall. I am so grateful she brought this quote in to us, and I would like to pass it on to you all.
A child's mind isn't a blank slate; it's more of a jungle. Each time a parent helps a toddler read, the child is walked through this jungle from one side to the other. Trip after trip, a seemingly impossible passage becomes a well-worn path. Children sent to kindergarten skipping merrily along this path to literacy fare far better than those sent to school with machetes.
Keith Mastrion, "Reading Man" and 1998 National Teacher of the Year
This same parent also brought me a copy of Mem Fox's Ten Read Aloud Commandments. I LOVE them!
Moral of the story...explore the links, read Reading Magic, and pass the concept on to others! We need not feel pressured by society to force literacy on our children. They'll begin reading in good time!