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Gah! the english language is so...complicated

I never thought of it. I'm a HUGE reader. i can go through a good book like water.

but now, i'm teaching my son how to read, and i never realized how stupid and complicated this is. he started out learning short sounds. well, recently i've been toying with teaching him long vowel sounds, and how the vowel changes consenant to a different sound.

for instance, how can you tell a child how to say and spell "ear", but then turn around and tell them they're saying "bear" wrong? and "ch" isn't always a blend sound? (chapter; preschool) they teach that the silent "e" changes the vowel, like "bike, like, kite" but what about in words like "bicycle"? the silent "e" does nothing to the second "c". and don't even get me on the "y" sounds like a short "i" in that word.

ok, now i'm just venting. obviously it's possible to teach them. i'm just wondering how the heck they even do it. it can be very confusing. it certainly is for me TEACHING it, let alone my son trying to figure it out. he's only 4, so i'm not rushing...

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Asked by armywife43 at 10:38 PM on Mar. 16, 2011 in School-Age Kids (5-8)

Level 21 (11,516 Credits)
Answers (21)
  • Well at 4 and 5 preschool teachers typically stick to word families. Cat, hat, bat etc. Sit, hit, bit etc. And common words, in, the, on, and... These words are typically memorized by children not sounded out. Words that can't be sounded out like the ones you mentioned aren't introduced until first and second grade, and most schools do them through phonic instruction. There's a song almost every first grader I've ever met knows, and it's the phonics song. But typically teachers start the song in September, and it doesn't finish until May because of all the different blends in the English language, and exceptions to rules. With your son I'd stick to words that can be sounded out, word families, and common words. Read books that have about 3 words in each sentence. Leveled readers are the best to start with. Leave the crazy blends and memorization of hard words till later.

    Answer by ba13ygrl1987 at 11:09 PM on Mar. 16, 2011

  • Ugh!! I agree--my son is in first grade and heavy into learning to read in school right now. The english language is incredibly inconsistent!! When I'm helping him with his homework it's so hard sometimes to try to explain all the different sounds to him. He gets frustrated sometimes and so do I!!

    Answer by natersmom76 at 11:18 PM on Mar. 16, 2011

  • I'm homeschooling my 5 year old using Abeka curriculum. We're actually just dealing with some of those sounds. He learned the ear sounds last week, it introduces them as "special sounds" and they each have a flash card, it has me introduce all 3 ear sounds together (ear, bear, earth), but each with a different flash card and different picture. They need to learn all the sounds it can make and if they don't immediately know when they see a word they need to try each different sound and see which one makes sense. This program comes with almost 200 special sounds. I feel overwhelmed when I think about it, but my son has done really well catching on.

    Answer by mybella81 at 11:18 PM on Mar. 16, 2011

  • As for words like bicycle, you need to start breaking words up into syllables and then you can usually apply your long/short vowel rules and special sounds.

    Answer by mybella81 at 11:19 PM on Mar. 16, 2011

  • As a reading teacher, I do word work sessions with the kids each day. There is a gradual progression to teaching all of those phonics rules and exceptions. We always tell them there are exceptions to every rule, we often can think of the exceptions and we write them at the bottom of the chart. We read a book and look for words that would fit on our chart. Some of the concepts you are teaching your 4 year old aren't taught until 1st and 2nd grades. Don't stress him out. Just focus now on short vowel sounds and word families then move into simple long vowels. Then worry about blends and digraphs at the beginning of words then at the ends of words. Then move into more complicated long vowel patterns. Sometimes you just have to be honest with the kids and tell them how tricky it can be and that they should try the word both ways and decide which one make the most sense or sounds right to them, that's hard for a 4 year old.

    Answer by MommyH2 at 11:19 PM on Mar. 16, 2011

  • If you're really interested in teaching him a lot I would recommend getting a homeschool curriculum. I started my son in kindergarten at 4. Not because I thought he was some genius but because the preschool and kindergarten curriculum started in the same place and buying both seemed pointless, so I decided to start in K and take it slow, he caught on really fast and is 1st grade now. Even if you aren't going to homeschool, I think having a curriculum helps so much if you want to teach your child to read, since it gives you an order to everything and has readers that practice just what is being taught.

    Answer by mybella81 at 11:49 PM on Mar. 16, 2011

  • I am leaning toward homeschooling him, but for right now he's in preschool due to financial reasons i needed a job. having worked in a preschool (with 2's and 3's) i knew i wanted him in a preschool with a curriculum, and i know the Abeka program almost like the back of my hand, so i chose one with that curriculum. it starts at age 2, and when he was that age i preschool-homeschooled him. the 3yr old school age is when i needed to find a job. but because i taught him, he's a bit more advanced than the other 3yr olds in the school academically, and although he likes doing his work, he's kind of bored. what they're learning, he already knows. so at home when i get the chance i grab some sight words and work with him on it. now he's only got a few of them right, like i said, i'm not forcing him into anything, but i there are some words he'd try to read and he'd do it the way he learned, but the were said wrong.

    Comment by armywife43 (original poster) at 7:29 AM on Mar. 17, 2011

  • You can only teach them the 'rules' for a good portion of the words, the rest of them they figure out and remember down the line. Just keep reading with him, I promise he will catch on real quick.

    Answer by slw123 at 10:03 AM on Mar. 17, 2011

  • I am not a teacher or homeschooling mom, but when my kids were in elementary school, the teachers would stick to one rule at a time, and teach the exceptions to those rules. Then there are sight words, those are words like I, a, be, my, it, the, are, am, etc. that are not necessarily sounded out, but are common in all writing. Those are taught to just be read by sight, not by sounding them out. They always used a combination of phonetics and sight reading when my kids were taught and that seemed to work best for most kids. I am sure there is a lot of literature out there for those who want to teach on their own. Good luck to you.


    Answer by cleanaturalady at 1:42 PM on Mar. 17, 2011

  • I was just discussing this. How do explain these words bologna, colonel to a kid? There's no E in bologna or R in colonel

    Answer by Alexias30 at 6:49 PM on Mar. 17, 2011

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