Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Fantastic Website about Teaching Reading

This is a fantastic website that I stumbled upon while searching the Internet for quotes about the benefits of a phonics reading method (versus sight reading). I was preparing for a presentation for homeschoolers about teaching reading, when I found this site. The site was created by a teacher named Don Potter, who has years of experience teaching children to read and dealing with children who cannot read after being taught with sight-reading methods. (Don Potter's site also has some math topics and other interesting subjects.)

This is a good summary of the issues with not using an intensive-phonics-first method of reading. I taught both of my children to read using intensive phonics-first instruction. I used the Alpha Phonics curriculum ($30). However, you can download for free, from this website, a scan of a teacher’s manual phonics book from the early 1900s and use that as your phonics curriculum!

I have written to Don Potter and expressed my gratitude for his site. We had some very interesting correspondence about his experiences in schools, which use a sight-reading approach.

If you are interested in the history of reading, the disaster of sight-reading methods and the benefits of an intensive-phonics method, read this site. If you want even more information, check out Sam Blumenfeld’s site,

I highly recommend “A Home Start in Reading” by Ruth Beechick, a 28-page booklet ($4.00 full retail) on all a parent needs to know about how to teach a child to read. This covers the time span from birth (pre-reading) through reading fluency (at whatever age). This booklet is also sold as a bundled pack with a math and a language arts booklet under the name “The Three R’s” (full retail $12.00, discounted on Amazon). I recommend that all parents of young children, even ones who send their children to school, buy and read these books. They can help the homeschooling parent know the background information such as developmental stages, stages of understanding of concepts, and how to teach a child these subject areas. Parents of schooled children can use Beechick's books to help with homework or to supplement learning at home, or to understand various issues if their child is falling behind or is being labeled with one label or another by teachers.

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