Wednesday, May 19, 2010

It's Work!

It sometimes amazes me how well my graduating senior can characterize settings, situations, and people.
Take this example:

When my oldest was in first grade, he was a rather reluctant reader.
I love to read, so I was starting to despair, and I said to him, "Why don't you like to read? Reading is fun!"
"No mom," he said to me. "Maybe someday reading will be fun. But right now, it's work!"

These days, he reads quite well.

Side note: The Annie E. Casey Foundation has ranked states based on the proportion of proficient readers by fourth grade: # 1-3 are four New England states (yes, I can count, but #3 was a tie): Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and New Hampshire. Michigan ranked #34. That came up in a Lansing State Journal article which says that "governments are cutting programs that could help families raise better readers."

1 comment:

  1. Chai--Other literacy philosophies defer teaching reading until later. For instance (taken from wikipedia,

    Steiner-Waldorf education emphasizes the oral tradition, deferring the introduction of reading and writing until age 7.[91] Todd Oppenheimer contrasted the Waldorf schools' approach to reading with early learning approaches:

    Emphasis on the creative also guides the aspect of a Waldorf education that probably frightens parents more than any other: the relaxed way that children learn to read. Whereas students at more competitive schools are mastering texts in first grade, sometimes even in kindergarten, most Waldorf students aren't reading fully until the third grade. And if they're still struggling at that point, many Waldorf teachers don't worry. In combination with another Waldorf oddity -- sending children to first grade a year later than usual -- this means that students may not be reading until age nine or ten, several years after many of their peers. ...

    It's no surprise, then, that Waldorf parents occasionally panic. Others may distrust Waldorf education because they have heard tales of parents who pulled their children out of a Waldorf school in the third grade when the kids still couldn't read. "That's like a standing joke," [one parent], the mother of two graduates of the Rudolf Steiner School, told [Oppenheimer]. "People say, 'Oh, can your kids read?' There was no concerted effort to drum certain words into the kids. And that was the point." Before teaching sound and word recognition, Waldorf teachers concentrate on exercises to build up a child's love of language. The technique seems to work, even in public schools. Barbara Warren, a teacher at John Morse, a public school near Sacramento, says that two years after Waldorf methods were introduced in her fourth-grade class of mostly minority children, the number of students who read at grade level doubled, rising from 45 to 85 percent. "I didn't start by making them read more," Warren says. "I started telling stories, and getting them to recite poetry that they learned by listening, not by reading. They became incredible listeners." Many Waldorf parents recall that their children were behind their friends in non-Waldorf schools but somehow caught up in the third or fourth grade, and then suddenly read with unusual fervor.[20]

    Child psychologist David Elkind, who examined the Waldorf schools focus on hands-on exploration and conceptualization in early childhood education,[92] cites evidence that late readers ultimately fare better at reading and other subjects than early readers.[20][92]

    According to Lucy Calkins, a reading specialist at the Teachers College of Columbia University, in most public schools the students who start reading later tend to do worse. Calkins also says that Waldorf students might also benefit slightly if they started earlier, but stated that she "would not necessarily be worried in a Waldorf school....The foundation of literacy is talk and play."[20]

    Oppenheimer also cautions "the system isn't fail-safe," noting that faith in the Waldorf system for reading instruction can lead teachers to overlook genuine learning disabilities in some students, including dyslexia.[20]