Can You Read This?

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Can you read this? Thank a teacher!

Over the past year, I have witnessed a miracle. My six-year-old son has learned to read.  He has gone from haltingly making his way through the lowest leveled readers, to having hundreds of sight words and reading with excitement and passion.  He loves to read.

His life has changed for the better – not just this year, but forever.

Kids don’t just learn to read on their own. They must be taught by specially trained teachers committed to ongoing professional learning.

My son has a teacher like that, but you won’t read a story about her in the newspaper. That’s because, while she is excellent, she is not unique.

Dozens of children at my son’s school learned to read this year. Hundreds of teachers taught thousands of kids across the Region to read this year.  Everyone reading this letter learned to read from a teacher. But we take them for granted.

Teachers doing their job well, year after year, are the norm. They’re not “news.”  The teacher who taught my son to read, and the thousands of other teachers like her in this Region, will continue to do amazing work that goes unnoticed and underappreciated.  That’s a tragedy!

Peter Stuart

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There are many ways to learn reading

As with the similar bumper stickers, when I read that headline, I laughed.

I’m glad that letter writer Peter Stuart found a dedicated teacher who taught his son to read. There are many more like her out there.  I had a couple who taught and inspired me.

I have to take extreme exception, though, with his blanket claim that kids don’t just learn to read, and need to be taught by specially trained teachers.

For centuries, people learned to read from others who were not even teachers. Later they learned from teachers who were barely trained, much less specially.

Back before the distraction of television, my mother read to me constantly, any decent book which came to hand, including Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ The Yearling, and T. S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, which went on to become the hit musical, Cats.

She did not teach me to read.  She did not point, and say, “This is A.  This is B.  This word is Cat.  This word is Dog.”  She just read to me.

One month before my fifth birthday, when she was sick in bed, I picked up a copy of Maclean’s magazine and read to her. I just learned to read!  I’ve never met another who made the same claim, but a few must exist.

Grumpy, Braggart, Old Archon

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Commitment Needed

I agree with letter writer, Archon, that some of us either seem to pick up reading on our own, or are taught quite well by “unqualified” teachers.

I taught myself to read around the age of four, mainly by being exposed to books, and the magnetic letters on the fridge.

My mother wasn’t surprised: she also read before starting school, and so did her mother.

As a home educator for almost two decades, I have seen many parents teach reading (and math, and much more) to their own children. Some children learned easily; some had challenges; some learned at three or four; some at the “normal” age; some not till much later.

Some used phonics and basal readers; some used computer software, and some used more informal methods.

Some families required extra help to deal with specific learning issues, but most of them managed extremely well.

Teaching reading does take commitment, patience and imagination! But it doesn’t require a teaching degree.

Anne White

***

As you can see, I’ve been at it again. I respect and admire teachers, but, like anything else, I’m not impressed with the, “Let someone else take care of it.” mindset which is all too prevalent.  Know how to take care of yourself, and your children.

Anybody else want to brag? How young did you learn to read?  Who “taught” you, using what?

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