Tuesday, December 3, 2013

reading and unschooling

While I am not a fan of using a test as a tool to assess anyone's abilities, now that 7 yo has been "tested", I would like to share one little insight.

He scored really high in reading.

His word reading is on 5th grade level. His verbal comprehension (finding similar words and defining provided words) are at 95th and 98th percentile. Before anyone thinks that I am boasting, I am providing these numbers to make one very important point: this kid NEVER did a comprehension exercise in his life, neither he did a vocabulary exercise. He was not drilled, and he did not practice.

He was not an early reader. He did not admit to recognizing the first letter of his name till he was almost five. He did not learn letters early, or show interest in reading. The only reading practice that I formally did with him was BOB books, and some beginning readers from the library.

What can his high scores be attributed to?

I do not think "oh, he's a genius". I think it is a combination of our home environment with a certain ethic. I used to read bedtime stories to kids every night. When we moved, one of the first places I searched out was the local library, and then we used it, heavily. I picked out the books for kids, they picked out their own books, we attended story time. I took out a ton of books for myself. I spend all my free time reading. The message has been loud and clear: read, read, read! When new books are lying around, tantalizingly close, just waiting to be opened and examined, who can resist.

When 7 yo was in preschool. the complaint that we got was that he always is next to the book shelf, asking someone to read to him. I got my kids books as yom tov gifts. In this environment of very dense literacy, reading is not optional, it is as essential as breathing.

This brings me to an ethic of unshooling: I do not enforce or monitor my kids' reading. We do not have a set time to read. We do not use workbooks or textbooks. I do not check their comprehension, unless they are eager to share what they read. 7 yo occasionally will come and ask me what a particular word means, and I will supply the answer. My kids read everything: chapter books, picture books, comics, atlases, magazines. cereal boxes... Oh, I know I should be choosier, then the first chapter book that 7 yo read would not have been "Captain Underpants". And yet, despite this not all-wholesome literary diet, he is a fluent reader, with great comprehension and vocabulary. He enjoys reading, and he does not view it as a chore or schoolwork.

One final detail: we also listen to books on tape, or, more accurately, on CDs. I get them out of the library, so we have a variety, and they do not cost us a thing. Some of the vocabulary and comprehension could be coming in that way, just listening. I save CDs for car rides, when we are all stuck in a car anyway. I love to load up on them before a big road trip, but even driving around town provides plenty of opportunities to listen.

No comments:

Post a Comment