Could Conventional Reading Methods Cause Children to Struggle
Teaching Sight Words
Conventional methods have children memorize sight words. That's because conventional thinking believes, like Dolchsightwords.org, "Many of the 220 words in the Dolch list, can not be "sounded out", and hence must be learned by sight".
The Dolch Sight Words, commonly used by parents and teachers, lists 220 words. When using conventional letter-sound phonics, these words, like most of the Dolch words, cannot be sounded out. Try it:
So the conventional solution has been to require children to memorize a list of (often abstract) words that can lead to confusion and frustration.
If you were required to learn these sight words, could you easily "see" the difference?
then them they their
All too often, and for too many children, this results in what Wordy calls the
Drill and Dry Method: drill the words and dry the tears.
Less than 20 of the 200 sight words are truly irregular. The rest of the sight words can be sounded out using the phonograms. So,
You do the math
72 sight words = 72 sight words.
72 phonograms = thousands of words.
Teaching Word Families
Conventional methods may teach up to 60 word families. For example: use the at family to learn words like cat, mat or sat. This word family trains children to see a-t in words and blend them together to automatically say /at/. But /at/ is not reliable and can cause children to become confused and struggle. Take a look the "at" family in this sentence: Can I watch my boat float in the bath water and eat with father later?
Of 50 plus common word families, only four are true phonograms that will not confuse children later on and require parents/teachers to explain the difference.
"Tried & True Rules"
Conventional methods use age old rules to help children:
"i before e, except after c."
That's weird. Herein you will see sufficient exceptions: heir, their, seize, weird, codeine, either, feisty, foreign, forfeit, height, heinous, heist, neither, sheik, leisure, stein, kaleidoscope, sleight, neighbor, weigh, weight, deity, deign, beige, eight, eighty, eighteen, feign, feint, freight, heir, rein, reign, sovereign, veil, vein, protein, sovereign caffein, codeine, Keith, Sheila, Neil... and more.
When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking."
Try sounding out these words using the “first vowel does the talking” rule:
eight biscuit steak boil bread reindeer build cookie
Don’t feel bad if you use this rule. Even PBS made up a cute song with adorable animations to teach this rule. The problem is it’s true in less than 1/3 of the cases. That means 2/3 of words are “exceptions!”
Children will read with proficiency when they are
taught with proficiency.