Unschooling and the Reading Program

After yesterday’s post, you may wonder if the theory of unschooling jives with these early reading programs. I mean, aren’t we using a school-like method to teach? Shouldn’t it be organic and natural? Well, my answer is that the way I do it is natural. I’m exposing him to words and their meaning. He’s enjoying it immensely and if I ever see him become bored or agitated, I stop. Whether I’m showing him a handful of flashcards or the reading video, he’s never captive. I also never test him. And I never plan on testing him. He’ll show me what he’s learned on his own.

I believe that words are like new toys to him. This is a time when he’s soaking in new information and spoken language, it seems like common sense that he’d be soaking in written language as well. Even if all it does is make him familiar with the shapes of letters, that’s better than nothing.

Also, if I’m not mistaken, the unschooling format of teaching reading is more of a whole language philosophy.  Rather than drill in phonics and rules, we expose kids to words and books until they make the connections themselves. That is exactly the way that I am teaching reading now, just at a much younger age.  In the book “How to Teach your Baby to Read,” the authors make the point that we don’t start by teaching the alphabet when we teach spoken language. The letter b isn’t a thing, it’s an abstraction. You can’t throw a b, or open a b, or take a b, but you can throw a ball, open a book and take a bath. Once the child learns to read a bunch of words, they start to make the connection that the shape b always makes the same sound. And, then, a whole new world opens up for them.

There is one other thing the authors stress that is very in line with unschooling philosophies. They believe, as do I, that the worst thing an adult can do to a child regarding education is to make learning boring. They say over and over that as soon as your child loses interest in the reading program, you need to stop. 

So, that’s the theory anyway. We’ll see how it is in practice, which is really what this blog is about. At this point, I’m just enjoying hearing Wesley squeal in delight at the tiger on the TV or shake his little arms when they’re singing Twinkle, Twinkle.

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