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from Phonics Pathways by Dolores G. Hiskes


Find a time and place that is quiet and satisfactory for both of you. Go slowly, and genuinely praise his efforts. Be gently persistent in working everyday - daily practice is essential.

However, do not hurry or pressure your student. There may even be times when it's best to put lessons aside for awhile. Many things affect a child's receptiveness to learning, such as maturity, attention span, health, hyperactivity, etc. Attention span can vary greatly with each child, and even from day to day with the same child.

Read all of the directions in each lesson before you begin, and always do these lessons in sequence. This is important because one skill builds upon another, and each practice reading reflects knowledge of all the letter sounds learned up to that point.

At first, work only a few minutes a day. It is the habit of sitting together for a lesson that is important to establish - you will gradually find yourselves spending more time with these lessons. Success breeds confidence and enthusiasm on the student's part, and a desire to do more. However, lessons never need to be longer than 10 or 15 minutes to show real progress.

Keep studying one lesson until your child knows it thoroughly. The goal is not just to impart knowledge, but to make it automatic in recall. Reading these letter sounds should not be a conscious effort; it should be as effort-less and automatic as saying his own name. Your student should move ahead when he is completely ready - not according to "age or page." As lessons get more complicated, he may even spend days working on the same page.

Following is a sample lesson plan for teaching the short-vowel sounds. It has proven to be an effective, seven-step strategy for many students, but can be modified or changed in any way:

  1. Complete the first lesson on page one, following the step-by-step directions for learning the short sound of "A."

  2. Play Memory. Find a box with a cover, and let him help you collect things to put into it, such as a pin, ball, eraser, sock, envelope, paper clip, etc. Have him choose one item, feel it, and put it in the box. Close the cover and ask him what is inside. Keep repeating this process, adding one item at a time, until he can no longer name the objects in the same order. This game develops his concentration, memory, and ability to recall images sequentially.

  3. Re-read the lesson. Think of words that rhyme with this sound, including nonsense words.

  4. Get a book of jokes or riddles, and tell him one - he will enjoy sharing it with his friends!

  5. Play the Short-Vowel Shuffle. (See page xvi. Also, make him a Short-Vowel Stick, page xv.)

  6. Read to him. There are excellent guides available suggesting wonderful books for every age level. Choose books for the beauty of the language, even though they will be beyond his current reading capability - after all, it is good music that inspires us, not piano drills!

  7. Reward him:

    • Give him a coin to put in a special jar, but do not let him keep it until some agreed-upon time (end of year, birthday, etc.). He may only hold and count the coins at the end of the lesson, while you are reading to him. Remind him that each coin represents a lesson he has had, and that his "bank" of skills is growing along with his "bank" of money.

    • Or, give him a sticker to put on a 3" x 5" card. Let him keep the card when it is full, and/or trade it in for a prize.

Repeat these instructions with each of the four remaining vowels, one at a time, until they are automatic in recall.

Vowels | Phonics Pathways

Back to Phonics Pathways main page

Table of Contents
Short Vowel Sounds
Two-Letter Blends
Three Letter Words
Spelling Sampler
Vision Exercises

Kenko quote | Phonics Pathways

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