Children who learn to read naturally, without reading instruction, are raised in an environment that is conducive to learning to read naturally—an environment that creates a love for learning and a very perceived need to learn.
While I have never had a natural reader myself, I tried all throughout my children’s learning days to create this type of environment. It has created outstanding learners and avid readers in the Reish home.
One of the “rules” that Ray and I had for our children’s early education was that if something could be taught informally (and painlessly), we would teach it that way (as opposed to using workbooks or “curriculum” for something that can just as easily be learned while driving down the road or snuggling on the sofa).
That is one thing that I truly loved about the “natural reader learning environment.” Why get a workbook to teach capital letters when you can teach it while you are running errands (from all of the store signs)? Why get a program for rhyming words when nursery rhymes, silly songs, and I spy games on the road can do the job without the stress? The “natural reader learning environment” fit how we thought young children should be taught—regardless of whether our kids truly became natural readers or not.
The environment described in the last couple of days’ posts is extremely conducive to teaching a myriad of things that kindergarten and first grade curricula often use workbooks, worksheets, and other “formal” approaches. And kids do not even know they are doing “school” with Mom and Dad while running to the hardware store or cuddling during an extensive story time!
Here are just a few of the skills that the research on natural readers indicated are learned/enjoyed by kids in this environment:
1. Contact with print
2. Thinking skills
3. Comprehension (especially when a wide variety of materials is presented and discussion follows)
4. Expanded vocabulary
5. Enunciation and pronunciation
6. Love of and need for reading
7. Sentence patterns
8. Relationship between parent and child---the most important one of all, of course!
Create a “natural reader learning environment” in your home—regardless of your kids’ ages….and watch the interaction with print increase; the love for learning grow; and the positive relationships bloom.