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There seems to be two distinctly different approaches to learning to read and write; a whole-language approach and a skills-based approach.
I think there are strengths to both approaches; the whole-language approach sees children learning to read and write through being immersed in a print-rich environment; allowing a child’s desire to learn to read and write to develop naturally.
The skills-based approach explicitly teaches decoding strategies; teaching children how to decipher printed words through phonics and spelling rules.
We try to take a balanced approach; explicitly teaching decoding strategies whilst being surrounded by a print-rich environment.
I’ve read arguments in favour of a whole-language approach which say when we teach a child a word, like ‘shirt’ for example, we don’t explain the different parts of a shirt (the sleeves, buttons, collar), we simply say ‘shirt’ and therefore learning to read and write should be taught in much the same way; not by teaching phonics and spelling rules rather through a rich culture of reading.
However I think there is a difference between how children learn to speak and how they learn to read and write. I think we are to an extent, biologically programmed to acquire language, and so all typically-developing children will learn to speak.
However I think learning to read and write is cultural; societal, and so while I believe a language-rich environment plays an enormous role in helping our children become literate, I also think children benefit from exposure to direct language instruction.
Here are some of the ways we are supporting language development in our child-led homeschool.
- Creating a Literacy Rich Environment
- Learning the Alphabet: Sequencing letters with a DIY geoboard
- Decoding C-V-C (consonant-vowel-consonant) words with wooden manipulatives
- Decoding words with the moveable alphabet and reading basic sentences
- Meaningful Writing: Sending postcards to penpals
- Constructing letters with hands-on manipulatives
- Practising writing letters in sand
- Meaningful Writing: Vegetable stones for the kitchen garden
Homeschool Kindergarten Literacy Resources :
- Moveable alphabet from Wood Puzzles
- Sandpaper letters from Wood Puzzles
- Healthy eating alphabet flashcards from Teepee Learning
- Spielgaben (read my review)
- Wooden alphabet pieces from Handwriting Without Tears
- Alphabet wallet cards from So Awesome
Books: First Readers
- Show Me a Story: Craft Projects and Activities to Spark Children’s Storytelling
- The Write Start: A Guide to Nurturing Writing at Every Stage, from Scribbling to Forming Letters and Writing Stories by Jennifer Hallissy
- Basic Montessori: Learning Activities For Under-Fives by David Gettman – detailed step-by-step guide to Montessori activities
- How Children Learn by John Holt
- Learning All The Time by John Holt
- Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners by Lori Pickert
- The Story Box Library – an incredible resource of beautiful Australian books retold by everyday and well-known Australians.
- The Australian Curriculum – handy for seeing what skills are introduced during the Kindergarten (Foundation) year in schools
I’ll continue adding to this page as the year progresses.