Trivium Pursuit

Teaching Phonics to an Already-Reader

I am so deeply enjoying your book. I am on my second go-round, really taking it in with understanding. I have 2 boys, ages 8 and 10. We have run the gamut of style in the last 5 years but do not seem to have ‘hit it on the head’ yet. My husband and I are considering a mid-year course adjustment following the trivium outline. Both of us are public school raised so this is a tad hard, especially for me.

Sorry for the aside — here is my question. My 8yo asked to learn how to read the Bible at 5y5mo. We just sat down with him and basically did look-see-repeat — bam, he was reading. He reads and remembers well. He is just now becoming able to fully relate what he has read. I am trying to not stress about his lack of phonics, thinking that it will click with him. His brother learned through Rod & Staff. We fought, but I thought that was just the way it was supposed to be. He was 5 1/2-6 then. R & S did not work for son #2 at all. Christian Light is teaching more grammar and sentence structure pieces with a bit of phonics lightly thrown in.

Thanks for your patience. How do you suggest I teach phonics to a reader? I am trying to give rules when asked for a spelling. My fear is that he will file the rule with that specific word and not see it broadly. I do not want to go ‘down’ and bore him, nor do I want to continue and lose him. He is in the 2nd grade English of Christian Light.

K. W.

One of my worst memories is teaching my oldest child to read using Rod and Staff. That was in 1980-81 when he was 4 and 5-years-old. In my opinion it is one of the worst phonics curricula — they make too many differentiations in the sounds of the letters and there is too much “stuff” for the child to work through. I crocheted a blanket during that year while I sat by him as he struggled through the lessons. To this day, I can’t bear to look at that blanket. He learned to read — but he cried every day, and he was fully ten years old before he would pick up a book on his own to read.

I would not teach phonics to an already-reader. At age ten, you can start teaching a formal spelling course and he’ll get what he needs then. Also, I suggest not starting a formal grammar course until age ten. See Chapter Eleven in our book Teaching the Trivium: Christian Homeschooling in a Classical Style for suggestions for your eight-year-old and Chapter Twelve for your ten-year-old.

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