Parenting Information


Public Schools Can Cripple Your Childrens Ability To Read


For many adults, reading a book or newspaper seems effortless. Yet reading effortlessly comes from constant use of basic skills learned at an early age. Once children learn these basic skills, they can eventually read complex books like War and Peace.

What are these skills? To read, one must recognize thousands of words. Since all English words are built from only twenty-six letters, the huge task of recognizing letters and their sounds and putting them together to form words becomes greatly simplified. An English-speaking child only has to sound out the letters and then put the sounds together to read the word.

I do not wish to over-simplify the complexity of our rich English language, however. Like other western languages, English has its peculiarities. For example, many vowels have more than one sound, and many sounds can be spelled more than one way. However, even with these complexities, English is far easier to learn than Chinese, where children have to memorize thousands of word pictures, rather than twenty-six letters and their sounds.

Reading is difficult at first, but, once learned, the process becomes automatic and unconscious. When we can read quickly without sounding out every letter of every word, all the knowledge of the world opens to us. However, like learning to drive a car, if we don't learn the basic skills, we don't learn to read, or we read poorly.

Enter public-school education theorists who think otherwise. Don't adults read without sounding out every letter of every word, they ask? So why teach children phonics? Why put children through the alleged boredom, drudgery, and hard work of learning letter-sounds? How can reading be joyful if literature becomes drills? If children memorize whole words instead of putting together letter sounds, all this pain will be gone. Rather than teaching kids the alphabet and how to sound out M-O-T-H-E-R, teach them to recognize MOTHER and other whole words in a book, like Chinese word-pictures or ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. Have the child read simple books that repeat each word over and over, so that they come to recognize the word. Do this for each word, they claim, and the child will learn to read. This is called "whole-language" reading instruction.

The only problem is that whole-language doesn't work. It is a disaster. Most young children are only able to "memorize" a few hundred relatively simple words. Even an adult's mind can only memorize at most, a few thousand words. That's the limit of the human mind's capacity to memorize abstract symbols. In contrast, children who learn to sound out the letters of words with phonics can read tens of thousands of words, and eventually read ANY word, because they can sound out each letter in the word and put the sounds together.

Author and education researcher Charles J. Sykes describes whole-language reading instruction in one first-grade classroom in his book "Dumbing Down Our Kids":

"Reading instruction begins with "pre-reading strategies" in which "children predict what the story is about by looking at the title and the pictures. Background knowledge is activated to get the children thinking about the reading topic." Then they read the story. If a child does not recognize a word, they are told to "look for clues."

"The whole-language curriculum gave specific suggestions that children: "Look at the pictures," ask "What would make sense?" "Look for patterns," "Look for clues," and "Skip the word and read ahead and then go back to the word." Finally, if all this fails, parents/teachers are told, "Tell the child the word. . . ."

"When kids couldn't figure out a word, educationists gave these further ions: "Ask a friend, skip the word, substitute another meaningful word." Sykes then asks, "Look at the pictures. Skip the word. Ask a friend. Is this reading?"

During the 1990s, when whole-language instruction was in full force, outraged parents bitterly complained about their children's deteriorating ability to read. In response, public schools across the country then reverted to their usual tactics --- they kept the failed policy but changed its name to fool parents.

Many public schools today say they now teach kids to read with "balanced reading instruction." What this means is they combine whole-language instruction with a smattering of phonics. "See," they can say to parents, "we are now teaching your kids phonics." The only problem is that too often the "balance" is still about 80 percent whole-language, and 20 percent phonics, if and when the teacher thinks phonics is "needed" in "special cases."

If you were a doctor and were treating a patient for a serious infection, would you give the patient a "balanced" cure of arsenic and antibiotics? That is the moral and practical status of "balanced" reading instruction where whole-language instruction still predominates, because whole-language is the arsenic of reading-instruction methods.

Parents, don't let public-school officials fool you with their glib talk of "balanced reading instruction." You need to personally investigate how your local school teaches your kids to read. The best thing to do is to test your children's true reading abilities with an outside, independent testing company. You may be shocked by the outcome of the test. The Resources section of "Public Schools, Public Menace," lists many such independent reading-testing companies.

Joel Turtel is an education policy analyst, and author of "Public Schools, Public Menace: How Public Schools Lie To Parents and Betray Our Children." Contact Information: Website: http://www.mykidsdeservebetter.com, Email: lbooksusa@aol.com, Phone: 718-447-7348, Article Copyrighted 2005 by Joel Turtel, NOTE: You may post this Article on an Ezine, newsletter, or other website only if you include Joel Turtel's complete contact information, and set up a hyperlink to Joel Turtel's email address and website URL, http://www.mykidsdeservebetter.com.


MORE RESOURCES:
This RSS feed URL is deprecated, please update. New URLs can be found in the footers at https://news.google.com/news


HuffPost

Mom's Illustrations Perfectly Capture The 'Crazy Parenting Rollercoaster'
HuffPost
“I just hope my illustrations make them realize that they're not alone on this crazy parenting rollercoaster, that parenting is bloody hard and that it's OK to admit it,” the mom added. “And also if your kids drive you batshit crazy and you hate Play ...

and more »


WTOP

'Lawnmower' parenting on the rise
WTOP
In that same blog, the professor notes how helicopter parenting is widely known for parents who hover or swoop in to “rescue” their kids whenever they're in trouble. Lawnmower parents, however, are geared more towards parents of older children where ...
'Lawn mower parents' are the new 'helicopter moms'Fox News

all 2 news articles »


Reno Gazette Journal

Obvious flaws in the child-centered approach to parenting: Rosemond
Reno Gazette Journal
A few thoughts over morning coffee… From the Feedback Department: Certain recent columns of mine have drawn a spike in reader responses, both pro and con. My comments on the fact that young teachers are and have been for quite some time ...



TooFab

Vivica A. Fox Calls Out Farrah Abraham's Parenting: 'Are You Allowing Sophia to Be a Kid?'
TooFab
Farrah Abraham's drug test meltdown wasn't the only explosive moment from Monday's episode of "Face the Truth," which also saw the "Teen Mom OG" star squaring off against the show's panel about her parenting skills. Right at the top of the show, the ...

and more »


Billings Gazette

Parenting a big responsibility for something just anyone can do
Billings Gazette
Canada is my favorite foreign country. Canada has nice people, they speak English and their plumbing seems to work. On foreign medical missions, flushing a toilet is often like pulling a lever on a slot machine. Who knows what will happen. I applied ...



OK Magazine

'Married At First Sight' Clip: Danielle Clashes With Her In-Laws' Views On Parenting
OK Magazine
In this sneak peek clip from Married at First Sight, Danielle faces the first real challenge in her marriage to Bobby: how will they raise their kids? While out to lunch with Bobby's mom and sister, the ladies explain why they're in favor of being stay ...



Psychology Today (blog)

The Parenting Today Video Series Begins
Psychology Today (blog)
This post introduces a series of thirty video interviews with leading experts from around the world called Parenting Today: Raising Strong, Resilient Kids. This series is designed to help parents better understand how to raise strong, resilient kids ...

and more »


Lifehacker

I'm Michelle Woo, Lifehacker Parenting Editor, and This Is How I Work
Lifehacker
Now I'm the parenting editor here at Lifehacker, a position that merges perfectly with this stage of my life because since I became a mom to my 5-year-old daughter Maggie, the perpetual question in my brain has been: “Parenthood is hard. How can I make ...



Raise Vegan, Inc.

The Math Of Parenting According To Parents On Twitter
Raise Vegan, Inc.
Parents on Twitter have been posting the funniest tweets, comparing parenting to math. For some, parenting might be “80% trying to convince your kids to put their shoes on and 20% trying to find those same shoes they just had on.” For others, it's more ...



Parenting the second time around
The Laconia Daily Sun
TILTON — A new support group has formed at the Greater Tilton Area Family Resource Center, providing peer support to grandparents who are parenting a second time around. The group is not limited to grandparents; it is open to any family member raising ...


Google News

home | site map
© 2007