Let me give you a little background on this story... although I am really enjoying the freedom public school brings to me as a mom- I am a homeschooler at heart. With that in mind I can not count the hours I have spent teaching my children phonics. I have more than a dozen books for each grade on the subject.
So, when I was in our learning program at the Down Syndrome Association of Orange County last month and heard that "our children just don't do well with phonics. It is best to teach whole language"- I just about freaked!!! I've heard this before, but I haven't really thought about it because Sadie was so far from reading. Well, we are getting ready for Kindergarten and pre-reading is a skill we've been working on.
I knew if I was ever going to get on board with this philosophy I needed to understand the reasoning behind it. They explained that because of the hearing and articulation problems our children most likely have it makes it difficult to really work with phonics. OK... that sounds understandable. I'll try whole words; but, I'm not giving up on phonics!
This month we worked on word to word matching. We have two boards with six words each- Foods and Pets. We also have a book that has a title page just with the word and the following pages have a picture and corresponding word. At the end of each book there is a vocabulary or word building page with all the words listed without pictures.
Let me just testify to you right now- IT WORKS! Sadie was able to match word to word successfully (except a few times when she matched dog and frog- most likely looking only at the ending of the word). She was able to read the books and even sight read a few of the words without pictures in the back of the book. But, here is the real test...
The other day while in a parking lot I heard Sadie repeatedly telling me, "Pets, mommy pets. Pets, pets mommy!" After a few times of hearing her chant this I looked back and noticed her pointing. She was pointing at the Pet City sign. What???? Yes, I have taken her in there and there were pictures of animals on the windows. But, she wasn't pointing at the windows and I never say, "let's go to the pet store". I do say let's go see the animals, dogs, cats, get bunny food, etc. Never Pet Store. I think "Pet" is just a weird and formal word.
Sadie saw the word and recognized it as the word she read in her book. She read a whole word. Could I have taught her phonics to read it... yes, it would take awhile but yes. Do I think phonics are important? YES, YES, YES! Did this experience make both Sadie and I excited to work on reading... YES, YES, YES!!
Just a cute P.S. to this story. Sadie knew how excited and proud we were of her when she read "Pets"-- so the other day she took my hand and lead me to her teacher and said, "Pets, mommy, pets". She wanted me to tell Ms. Katie and Ms. Pam! Good job Sadie!