Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Reading comprehension

Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them,
I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house;
and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not,
shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house;
and it fell:
and great was the fall of it.
Matthew 7:24-27

As we continue to work with Sammy, we keep seeing amazing benefits from teaching children to read using the Bible.

Reading comprehension means that you are trying to teach the child to get information from what they are reading, that is, to understand it. In the schools, this is often tested by asking children multiple choice or fill in the blank questions. (I remember being pretty good at fill in the blank tests, because I would just scan the subject passage for words with over 3 syllables, and that was often the one.)

Everyone agrees it is pointless to labor over sounding out the words without knowing what you are reading. However, if we are just trying to follow the Bible's instruction to parents in teaching our children God's Word, it's all in the bag. We are coming to think its not even a separate step: if we are trying to follow the Bible's instructions to parents...we are teaching the WORDS and their application, reading for meaning, reading for living. Perhaps the learning is in increments, but its simultaneous, at least it seems that way.

Schools need to separate everything into TESTABLE steps. That is one of many limitations of schools, and its not because its the best way to teach a child a thing, but for the convenience of the teachers. Parents who teach their children at home are not so limited in how we teach. If we are teaching our children the word of God, we are steering towards a known point on the horizon. Is the goal literacy? No, that would fall short of the Bible's instruction. There are plenty of literate people who are lost. We have to be so careful to seek first the kingdom of God, not literacy, and not even literacy as a tool to seek the kingdom of God. Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, Jesus said, and all these things (including literacy) will be added unto you.

We are really seeing the more we try to make this our focus, it really works.

We are working on the book of Job, and Sammy is doing pretty well on most of the words. In the first chapter so far, most of the words he is reading without much effort. I noted these words which he either didn't already know, or needed extra help sounding out, so we can put them in his notebook:

upright - we have an " - ight " page in his notebook, to which we added this word
eschewed - we had to sound this out and define it, old word
perfect - in sounding it out, he used the soft c sound
thousand - define
hundred - use this in thousand
yoke of oxen - I am thinking a yoke's worth is two oxen...
household - defining this word
nought - adding this to the " - ought " page in his notebook, and defining this word.

After reading through verse 3, where it says Job was the greatest of the men of the east, we stopped and looked at all the stuff we know about Job so far, what made him great? He picked out things we had read.

Now he is working on a two page spread in his notebook, where he is making pictures and copying phrases about Job and all his stuff from the first few verses of Job.

As he was reading and doing his spread, he commented that the word daughters has the "aught" sound, which we have a page for, so we are adding that. In my mind, back when we made that page, I didn't think he'd memorize it, but he does seem to remember that letter combination.

I have noticed my tendency to want to present certain things as a classroom teacher would. But many times, before I have it all laid out, Sammy already has the concept. I don't think its because he is precocious. Rather, outside the artificial confines of a classroom, things are so connected, and in a real context. It's kind of a habit we have to form: to teach children as a parent rather than as if we are a classroom teacher. Parents came first, and teachers are often just imitations for parents.

As parents, we pray our children will build their lives on a rock: hearing and doing the Word of God!

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