Carnival of Homeschooling's paper anniversary and reading to dogs
It is the Carnival of Homeschooling's paper anniversary. As my son seems to be reaching some of the early literacy milestones which signify that he may be ready to begin learning letter-sound relationships, I have been thinking more about the process of learning to read. There are so many programs out there to help a child build literacy skills, often with competing philosophies. Phonics? Whole language? Balanced approach? It's never to early? Or later is better? We pressure kids earlier and earlier to learn to read, labeling many as "slow learners" who still fall within the normal range for beginning literacy skills (5 - 8). And thus, the market for intervention strategies seems to be thriving.

And pushing a child who isn't ready does nothing but build frustration. And frustrated children refuse to read. To lower the frustration threshold, there is an interesting program out there to allow children to read to specially trained dogs to help them build confidence in reading. Our library has them during the summer by appointment. Along with human mentors who will meet with your child to read to them, listen to them read or just play a game of checkers with them. I know these programs are great for some children, but one of the interesting posts presented in the carnival poses some interesting questions. The Thinking Mother wonders if perhaps the parent wouldn't be a better reading mentor than a dog at the library.

I'm split. I've known similar programs...and even just the pets in the be the key to unlock reading for a struggling reader. But I think the frustration which builds to the point of needing a non-judgmental listener oftentimes does go back to problems in the relationship between parent and child or back to a child who was pushed too hard too early, regardless of who was doing the pushing. This isn't always the case, however. The child I'm thinking of was not pushed in anyway I could tell, but that did not stop him from recognizing that siblings half his age were reading beyond his level. Reading to his pet alone in his room helped him gain the basic skills he needed while preserving the dignity that he as a young man needed to maintain.

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