“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” ~ Frederick Douglass

OUR APPROACH TO TEACHING READING

There should be no doubt that teaching our children how to read well should be the most important function of our school system. In this information age, all other learning is dependent on this vital skill.

Unfortunately, our English language is not the easiest to learn to read and write. There are seemingly so many arbitrary ways to spell words that many teachers describe English as a chaotic mess. It is for this reason that an organized, step-by-step approach is needed. Failure in the early stages of teaching a child how to read can leave him so confused and discouraged that he gives up trying, making it much, much harder to correct later.

Compounding this is the fact that teachers (quite astoundingly given its importance) receive almost no instruction in how to teach reading when they go to Teachers’ College. Without proper instruction themselves, it is little wonder that so many of them consider English spelling rules confusing and thus have so much difficulty teaching reading. But a proper examination of our language reveals many repeating patterns and consistencies, and there ARE ways to teach reading properly. Given the large numbers of students entering our high schools and universities with poor reading and writing skills, these methods are apparently not very well known or used.

One of the biggest problems with our school system is that reading is generally taught before and separately from learning to write. Maria Montessori wrote, “Contrary to the usually accepted idea, writing precedes reading.” The famous Swiss educator Jean Piaget explains the reason; “In order for a child to understand something, he must construct it himself, he must re-invent it.”

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We take these words to heart. Maria Montessori herself taught children to read and write between the ages of four and six, and in fact considered this the best age to do so.
Using a logical, step-by-step approach, we see no reason for any child to fail to learn to read well. It is a skill they must master to succeed in today’s world.

~ Both quotes are from Why Johnny Still Can’t Read, by Rudolph Flesch. Harper Colophon Books, 1981 (pg. 116)