Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Relaxed Homeschool Series, Day 9

"Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputation and social standing, never can bring about a reform."  - Susan B. Anthony

Today we had a reading breakthrough! Following Charlotte Mason's advice to incorporate "reading at sight," Beezy was able to read the first 10 words from Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Peter Rabbit, a real story rather than the twaddle of modern books designed for children learning to read. Up to now, when I incorporated sight words, they were written on note cards and learned using the Montessori "three period lesson." This is a valid technique as well. However, last week Beezy said with wistfulness, "I want to read." I knew what she meant. She had randomly been sounding words out that she came across but would become discouraged, for example, when she read "seen" for the word "sheen." Plodding along at sounding words out gets boring, and while learning to read phonetically is important, Charlotte Mason believed that "...his progress in the art of reading depends chiefly on the 'reading at sight' lessons."

According to Ms. Mason, once the child has a good handle on the sounds of the letters and the process of making words, he should begin to read literature, never books with only 3 or 4 letters in each word. The story or poem is to be taken only a couple lines at a time, 10 or a dozen words. The adult puts her finger under each word, going slowly and pronouncing clearly, and the child repeats along. The interest and intense focus this exercise of reading a real book inspired in Beezy was surprising and wonderful! She didn't yawn, like she often does reading BOB books. She was determined to master the lesson. Finally, reading was truly exciting! There were a few words she knew or could sound out; otherwise, she learned to read by sight, "Once upon a time there were four little Rabbits, and..." We worked on the whole sentence, which continues, "their names were--Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail, and Peter." The 1st 10 words Beezy could read fluently, not merely by memory. Thank you, Charlotte Mason!

We are continuing to work through Dr. Christman's Learn to Read manual, and Beezy loves the Starfall online reading program. Slowly and surely, we will work through the Peter Rabbit book a couple of lines at a time, also searching for those familiar words elsewhere in the text so that they can be recognized and read anywhere. It may seem a slow way to go, but Charlotte says, "Not so slow, after all: a child will thus learn, without appreciable labour, from two to three thousand words in the course of a year; in other words, he will learn to read, for the mastery of this number of words will carry him with comfort through most of the books that fall in his way."

The above quotes and entire outline of Ms. Mason's reading technique can be found in volume 1 of her series, Home Education.


  1. i heard someone say a child gets used to what it is conditioned to such as being strapped into a seat ect.

  2. I think each child is unique. Some adapt to a particular situation better than others. Sometimes the child's spirit is broken, and he or she seems to be functioning fine, but in reality, the child has given up. When this happens, a child may develop serious problems--emotional, social, spiritual, even physical.


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