Very interesting lecture on when and how to get children reading from a Montessori point of view by Margaret Homfray. Some of the stuff she says is just good old common sense, but she also makes some very interesting observations about how literacy levels have dropped over the years despite the reduction in class sizes.
She makes some fairly straight forward points about how children whose parents allow and encourage reading, and have books in the house, are more likely to read and read well. This is a common sense statement that too many parents have forgotten. I have been to quite a few homes where books are not to be seen, or very few strategically arranged to look good but not be read.
She says in England 58% of English children are not reading by the age of 8 or 9. She says her class size was 48 and sizes had been over 60 children before that and yet children of 7 or 8 could read. It would be interesting to know what exactly has gone wrong.
She criticises silly very early reading schemes for babies and toddlers who have not yet even acquired language. It is obvious that language acquisition must have been completed and language learning begun before a child can start reading-you would think, but it needed saying because so many people (including I might add the barmy British Govt) believe that the way to stop illiteracy is to force it on very little children.
Her main points are as follows:
- Children do what parents do. If parents read children read. A cultured home leads to literacy.
- Read with children and to them-but not too much.
- Books should be chosen carefully and treated well.
- Choose books with good English and well written.
- Children must have acquired language.
- Children learn to read best between the ages of 4 and 6.
- Too early (pre age 4) and they get put off and anyway forget it all.
- Too late, after age 8 children don’t read smoothly or quickly or build good reading vocab.
- Reading makes you an independent learner.
- Reading too late makes reading harder and slower. (I can remember the tough time a 15 year old lad who has missed his education had when he came to me to learn to read).