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Early Learning Pathways

Teach Babies to Read

Teach Babies to Read
Teaching reading to babies can be easy and fun and your child can become very interested in learning to read. The magic formula is to show the baby phonograms and give one phoneme (sound) at a time, and accompany each
phonogram with a simple word the baby can decode.

Two Methods
Experts do not agree on what is the best way to teach children to read. Two commonly known methods for teaching
reading are widely divergent. One method uses words only, and phonograms are never taught. The other uses phonograms first, and words come much, much later. Combining the two methods makes teaching reading most effective. Offer the child phonograms and words that he* can decode.

Phonograms are the keys to decoding words
Reading is the process of decoding letter characters called phonograms. Phonograms represent sounds called phonemes. A child that memorizes words without learning phonograms does not know how to decode words and so his activity is not true reading. Some proponents for the words only method say that if you show children enough words they will subconsciously figure out the phonetic code.

Nevertheless, illiteracy has skyrocketed among school children because of this approach. With babies, however, this approach may work because the baby's right brain is dominant and the left brain is dormant, which means babies consciously take in whatever is in their environment and it gets stored in the subconscious mind. They absorb their environment and can figure things out subconsciously, where many older children may not be willing or able to process what may be regarded by them as tedious information, since they are no longer in the absorbent mind stage of development and are functioning largely from the left brain hemisphere. One problem with showing words without the child being shown many more word flashcards in order to figure out the phonetic code than if you show them phonograms and teach them the letter sounds (phonemes) which are relatively few in number. Still another problem is that word only flashcards involve memorization, not reading, and so the flashcards may be boring for the child and he may not even look at them.

Children can read books at an early age when they are taught phonograms with accompanying words. And children will figure out new words on their own, as knowing phonograms empowers the child to read. The words only approach is a longer road for a child to take in order to learn to read. It is less interesting and can be difficult and frustrating, especially to an older child. Whole word advocates, such as Glenn Doman, who claim that phonograms do not make sense to a baby should consider that babies do not speak whole words at first. Instead they babble and learn to make the sounds the phonograms represent. Therefore we aught to consider that teaching phonograms will aid the child in speech development. Furthermore, when the baby is shown a word that he is able to decode because he has been shown the phonograms for that word, phonograms make supreme sense to the child.

Teaching phonograms without presenting words postpones understanding, is uninteresting, and delays reading.
There are 70 phonograms with one hundred and eleven sounds represented by the 70 phonograms. The sounds do not mean anything in and by themselves. If the giving of words is postponed until every phonogram has been learned this, too,
is a long road to travel before a child can gain some understanding of what he is learning, and can have the satisfaction of reading. For example, if you take a simple word like “cats” and show it to a child that has learned phonogram sounds without supporting words, the child will say that the word “cats” is pronounced: /k/ - /s/ - /a/(short vowel) - /a/ (long vowel) - /a/ (as in almond) and /uh/ as in banana) - /t/ - /s/ - /z/, with all these sounds running together. Teaching phnonograms without words is complex and makes reading incomprehensible. Giving words with each sound gets the idea across that the phonogram has only one sound in a given word. And it doesn't take master's degree in education or special training for a parent to be able to do it!

Phonograms have been made too difficult
Giving a string of multiple phonemes, at a time, for one phonogram, instead of giving one phoneme at a time with a simple word the child can decode, has made learning and teaching phonograms difficult. When the whole gamut of phonograms must be learned in the absence of words, the instructor is faced with the challenge of teaching the child (and the child has the challenge of learning) that in order to read a word like “cats”, for example, he must first choose between the /k/ and the /s/phonemes, then choose between the four /a/ phonemes. The /t/ does not require a choice and, finally, he must choose between the phonemes /s/ and /z/. In order to help him decide what to do, there are any number of rules, rules, rules. It's no wonder teachers and students, alike, have recoiled from phonograms when phonograms are taught without words!

Sound-to-Symbol Relationship

Phonograms first proponents fear that offering words with phonograms will interfere with the child’s ability to grasp the concept of the sound-to-symbol relationship. This is only so if the child is given words that it can't decode. By starting with the alphabet phonograms with, and the most common phoneme, many simple words can be learned that will reinforce the sound-to-symbol relationship because they can all be decoded.

In the Home Reading Program, for phonograms with multiple sounds, each phoneme is learned separately with a word that uses that specific phoneme. The parent informs the child that some phonograms have more than one phoneme and lets the child know if he is learning a phonogram that has multiple phonemes. The child knows that he will be learning the phonemes, one sound at a time.

The phonograms are broken up into three sets – beginning, intermediate and advanced. The child begins with Alphabet phonograms, then the intermediate phonograms, which are comprised of more than one letter but have only one sound. Lastly, the child works through the advanced phonograms, which are also comprised of more than one letter, but the phonograms have two or more sounds. There are separate words for each phoneme in all three sets.

In the Home Reading Program every phoneme for every phonogram has its own flashcard and has a carefully selected word on the other side of the flashcard. Parents will not find it difficult to say the phoneme, as there is only one sound to pronounce, and all they need do is look at the word shown on the other side of the flashcard, which is the key to the pronunciation of the phoneme being presented.

Easy Recognition

Because the phonogram is colored magenta on both sides of the flashcard, the child can easily identify the phonogram being learned with the word because it stands out, and the child can see that the same phonogram is on both sides of the flashcard. The parent pronounces the phoneme and then turns the flashcard around and shows the child the word. The word is slowly articulated with emphasis placed on the new phoneme.

Here is how to do it.
After going through the entire alphabet and giving the most common phoneme, without showing words, you begin again with the “a” flashcard and hold it up for the child to see. With slow, precise pronunciation, the parent identifies the phonogram by making the sound /a/ (as in at). On the other side of the flashcard is the word “at”, which you will show the baby next. (The child has just been reminded that “a” says /a/ and he has already been told in a previous session that “t” says /t/.) Holding the flashcard steady and at the child’s eye level, say the word “at” with precise pronunciation. Then say the word again more slowly, pronouncing the two phonemes in a drawn-out, segmented manner (/a/ —/t/) while pointing to the letters as you say them. Then blend the sounds together again and say the word “at’ as one word. As you blend the two phonemes, move your index finger under the word from left to right in the same direction as the eyes would move in reading.

The words demonstrate for the child the phonograms in action, thus, reinforcing phonograms and their phonemes. All words are carefully selected so that the child can pick out the phonogram and hear the phoneme and decode each word.

The alphabet is learned first, not last
Any number of reading experts say that the child aught not to be introduced to the alphabet until the child is much older. They reason that the child cannot understand the alphabet and therefore it aught not to be taught. This is a fallacy! Learning the alphabet is a simple step, and learning the alphabet first will help children to learn to read phonetically, because in learning the names of the letters, the child is definitely using his ears and hearing the phonemes that are contained within the names of the letters. My knowing the alphabet was what enabled me to learn to read phonetically even though I was not taught phonograms.

The first phonograms children learn in the Home Reading Program are the letters of the alphabet. The child first needs to be given the names of the letters before beginning with alphabet phonograms. This is best accomplished with the Alphabet Song and the Alphabet flashcards. Work with alphabet phonograms is based on the child’s familiarity with the alphabet and his prior knowledge of the names of the letters.

The Alphabet Song sparks the baby’s interest in the alphabet, and when you show the alphabet flashcards the baby will be attentive because he wants to know what A, B, C, etc. is all about. If you know the Alphabet Song, sing it often or get a recording to play for the child. Sing or recite the Alphabet for the baby every chance you get. When you next teach the phonograms, another piece of the puzzle will be put in place for the baby. And when you show the words to the baby the mystery will be solved and the child will know that it is all about reading.

Phonemic Awareness
Dr. Maria Montessori points out that infants need parents to speak slowly and with precise pronunciation, and in a pleasant tone of voice. A baby is very intent on watching a parent’s mouth and lips whenever the parent speaks to him. Speaking to the baby slowly, and taking care to articulate each sound, is essential to the child’s development of speech and phonemic awareness, which is the ability to hear the specific sounds of speech and to distinguish between them. Phonemic awareness is necessary for the child to become a successful reader.

Download everything you need for free
Because the alphabet is learned before beginning with alphabet phonograms, you may want to DOENLOAD free alphabet flashcards and instructions. Both uppercase and lowercase letters (capital and small letters) are shown with these flashcards. Uppercase is on one side of the flashcard and lowercase is on the other. The child learns both uppercase and lowercase letters from the start.

It doesn’t take long for a child to be ready for phonograms
You may wonder when a baby has learned the You may wonder when a baby has learned the alphabet well enough to begin with phonograms. Presenting the alphabet three times each (3x upper-case, 3x lower-case and 3x both sides) before presenting phonograms may be sufficient with periodic review. You can gauge reviews by whether the child is interested in your showing and naming the alphabet flashcards.

Sing the Alphabet Song for the baby, often, until the child grows and learns to sing it himself. Then sing it with him and, finally, when you are certain that he knows it ask him to sing it for you. From time to time sing it with him or ask him to sing it for you.

Note
Child brain specialist Glenn Doman of the Institutes For The Achievement Of Human Potential says that the center for reading and speech is in the same area of the brain and that children can learn to both read and speak simultaneously. Doman has proven this and demonstrated it many times. If you teach a baby to read, the child will know how to read by the time the child is speaking, and from there on out the child can make rapid strides and advancement.

DOWNLOAD Home Reading Program

The Doman Method

For information about a book click on the title
To see enlarged front cover click the cover.

How to Teach Your Baby to Read
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