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2. Reading - How Your Child Progresses
by Aruna Raghavan
Last week we began with a very simple
reading program. We continue with it this week. But first :
When we found that Nirupama could read
effortlessly, we began with her writing. We found a miracle : she made no
mistakes in her spelling. We took on children who had ‘spelling problems’, and
they began to do well too. Why? The answer lay in the method.
Doman is not concerned about which language
is taught. Heis concerned with
training and honing the skills of reading. The eye and the ear have to be
perfected. The eye has to learn to distingush one word from another. That is
what reading is all about. The ear has to learn to distinguish sounds and that
is what hearing is all about.
To a two year old, the word on a card is
like a picture. The word is registered as a whole. Even as she distinguishes the
face of the mother from the father’sby seeing the whole, so too does she perceive the word. As the eye moves
towards perfection, it ‘photographs’ words; as the ear moves towards perfection,
it ‘records’ sounds. And memory, which is the prerogative of the brain, works to
recall all past words and sounds in unison. The child is moving towards being a
perfect reader.The eye, which has
photographed the word, slowly learns to see individual characters within. And
the mind’s eye can visualise the series of letters in perfect order. Spelling is
not such a difficult proposition any more.
Children who spell incorrectly do so because
the brain has not been fed the letters in perfect sequence. Erroneous message
has been recorded and the brain sends out the recorded message. The correction has to be made in the
way the eye sees the word. So, writing a word large, clear and bold will enable
the child read it easily. The eye sends the right message, the brain records
correctly and at the time of recall too the spelling is correct.
Let’s take an exercise. Call any child who
has problems spelling. Choose any word that is less than 6 letters at first,
until you and the child are more ‘professional’.Now cover the difficult word in the text
with your finger. She is not to call out the letters, not even lip read. She
must only look carefully. Say that you will show her the word three times. At
the end she should try and recall the sequence. Then start.If at the first try she goes through
that’s great. If not show her three more times. She will get it right. This is
training the eye to ‘see’. Most teachers and sub editors so train themselves
that their eyes hit only incorrectly spelt words. Every child can be taught to
use their eyes to that perfection.
To train successfully : be relaxed, do it as
fun and the child will learn. You could start with a modest five word a day
until a day arrives when her eye will register the individual characters as well
as the whole word simultaneously. Try it out on yourself with any language where
you are unfamiliar with the script. ( I can only sympathise if you are slower
than your kid !)
Last week we began with a very simple
reading program. The words were mother, father, kiss, milk and tata. Of all the
words, your child would have got tata first. That’s the most interesting word in
the set. It creates an image of fun, even a prospect of fun. It must have been
an extremely exhilarating experience watching your child identify that word from
all the others. To reiterate, that is what reading is all about : to distinguish
one word from another.
So, obviously, we have to ensure that we
show cards that have
1. words that look and sound different.
2. words thatare known, familiar
3. words that evoke an image of
To Nuran, whose eyes are not yet trained to
distinguish words and sounds it is best we do not show words that look or sound
alike. To showNuran cards like
cat, sat, mat, pat, bat, fatwould
be disastrous. The reason : they all look alike; they all sound alike. If she
feels even slightly confused, she can feel dejected enoughto respond by walking away or
misbehaving. However cards that do not look / sound alike gives the untrained
eye and ear a fair chance. Hippopotamus, tiger, kookaburra, ostrich and flamingo
do not look alike; they bring a response from her.
It is always best that Nuran knows a word in
context before she is shown the card. If she does not know an ostrich, it is
best she is shown pictures of ostrich, knows that it is a non flying bird in
Africa before she is shown the word card ‘ostrich’. Unfamiliar words leave
children cold and inattentive.
Choose words that are fun. Since at the
early stages we are attempting to train the eye and the ear, it is best that we
choose ‘fun’ over ‘necessary’. It is always more interesting to read ice cream,
juice, biscuits, chocolates, cake,Sachin, Ajay, Rahul, Saurav, and Robin than to read door, house, broom or
building. That can come a few weeks down the line when Nuran has come to
anticipate and enjoy her sessions with you.
How often has Nuran run from the kitchen to
the living room when the commercials begin? In fact, she confines her television
viewing to commercials. The commercials are short and quick yet she knows them
all,even sings the jingles. Your
sessions with Nuran should be so. Short, quick and fun. First you speak for a
few minutes about what you are going to show her,then show the cards.
How does one call the words? With enthusiasm
and vigour. Remember, to you it may be quite simple but to Nuran, the words are
new.They should evoke a love for
reading and keep the light of sense of discovery burning. Do not take time
betweencards, do not put on such
expression on the face that it
distracts the child. The expression should be in the voice alone. However, if
Nuran talks or repeats your information as you show the cards, say that she is
bright and a wow! But do not allow for too much distraction. One of the fastest
ways to encourage concentration is to have two bags, one yours and one hers. Say
that the faster she learns the words, the fasterher bag will be full. ‘Her’ cards she
can keep andteach her stuffed
toys. We have known it to work like magic.
Last week we ran a trial successfully.
Now we can launch on a complete reading program.
Select 5 words that may be easily related to
Make 5 such sets. So, you will have a total
Make sure that these are words that you have
talked about in stories, games, or other context.
Show the words at the rate of one second per
card – A session of say 30 seconds.
Repeat this process three times in a day for
What should bethe first words?
Each child’s experience and environment is
different so it would be impossible to make an exhaustive list. But here are
some sets that have proved successful every time.
For the below one year :
milk, juice, water, oil, bath, soap,laugh, tickle, look, cow, dog, cat, car,
names of the members of the family, parts of the body, things in the
For the one year plus, other than what is
shown the babes we did:
. car, truck, autorickshaws, airplane, ship,
. common birds, animals
. tree, plant, flower,[individual names would be
. beach, sea, sand, water, salt, waves,
breeze, cool, shells, boats, fish
. mountain, valley, high, cold, snow, pine,
fir, meadows, waterfalls, stream
. shop, market, hospital, station, bus stop,
. sky, cloud, stars, moon, sun
. interesting verbs including zoom, pitter
patter, chirp, shine, sail, fly, bang, fall, grow,
. adjectives including wonderful, beautiful,
fascinating, lovely, noisy, majestic, soft, fat, prickly, pink, blue...
The list is, of course , inexhaustible. Each
of the above group is associative so it should be easy to create five sets of
If your child is familiar
the words below, your sets could possibly be :
Set 1 : hands, legs, eye, tummy,
Set 2 : car, truck, autorickshaw, ship,
Set 3:ice cream, chocolate, cake, biscuits, juice
Set 4:long, fat, noisy, big, cool
Set 5:zoom, run, yum yum, fly,sail
As with the first set, follow the precaution
ofcentering your word, use red
flat marker pens, print it [do not write in cursive], show one card a second and
place each card on top of another so that no two cards are visible at the same
time. Show the cards fast, with enthusiasm, three times a day,for a week. Each time you complete
showing a set change the order of the cards at random. This will ensure that
your tot has to look at the cards each time. Or your tot is quite capable of
going by the sound alone without caring to look too!
You will find by the end of the week your
child will know some of the cards very well. You can then go on to the next
stage which we shall deal with next week. Until then, have a lovely time with
One ofthe greatest concerns amongst parents
and teachers, employers and employees is the growing lack of what might be
termed ‘general knowledge’. That includes not only whatappears in the yearly ‘Manorama’, but
also common knowledge. Though school subjects are geared to acquire such
knowledge,breaking subjects and
topics, not showing their inter relation has led to an increasing incapacity to
understand thatall that is taught
in school is only about the world and nothing more!
with everything else, it is the how
rather than the what that makes the
difference. In this series we are going to see how we could incorporate as many
subjects and topics and teach a child who might be one year up. For this week,
we begin with map work.
Make a large
map of India, with only the outline of states. Do not write or mark the states
or cities. Colour the map in pleasing shades. Begin by colouring Madhya Pradesh,
Assam blue. Since these two states have the most neighbours, it would make it
easier to blend colours of the other states. Also remember not to colour the
coastal states blue as that would confuse the child.
Board it so that it does not bend and hang it like a calendar.
Hang it where young Arjun can see it very often.
: Pick him up and show him the map and say “India” 7 or 8 times. Then ask
him where the India map is. If he shows you then you know he knows.
1: Again show him the India map.
: Touch each state as you call out the names. Show him Jammu and Kashmir, Tamil
Nadu, Gujarat, and Assam. Obviously, we have chosen four states from four
directions so that Arjun cannot confuse the states. Pick him up and call out the
four states 2 or 3 times; after 15mts say the same 4 states 2 or 3 times. Then,
through out the day, whenever you are passing the map, call out the names.
Remember to touch the states as you are calling. Proceed to step 3 after you are
confident that he knows all the names and locations.
: Now ask him to touch the states with you as you call out the names. He will
: Step 1: Touch each state with his hand as you call out the states that
you have already taught.Now add
Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, and Nagaland.. Repeat Step 2 and 3 as
: Revise all that you did on day 2 and 3 . Add Punjab, Karnataka,
Rajasthan and Meghalaya. Repeat steps 2 and 3 above.
: Consolidate all that you have done. Don’t teach anything new.
Go on to 4 more new
Remember to choose one state from north, south, east and west.
This way within two weeks, you
would have completed the entire map. If you find he is able to point out the
right states, then you may increase to 5 states. But the new states that are
being taughtshould be as far from
each other as possible. Also do not call out the states in the same order
always; that will take away the fun in learning.
Now, while you are doing the
map with your baby, you could begin a large picture collection of monuments,
birds, animals, leaders, fruits, vegetables, flowers, sea animals, insects.
Good, large and clear pictures are available in the ‘Keep busy’ series and the
‘Navneet’ series available at the Higginbothams and Fountainhead at Chennai. You
will need two of each as when you cut a picture on one page, you will lose the
picture on the other side. We shall use these materials as your child learns
each state. If you could find the same pictures in finger nail size it would be
most helpful. If not, you could draw as much as you can. And those of you who do
not draw well, do not worry about your drawing. Your child will never laugh at
your work. For him everything you do is the best. And since he appreciates it
you will find a miracle happening : your drawing will get good and you will
learn that unconditional appreciation improves output. That will be the best
lesson that you’ll learn from your child!!
So, until next week, happy
One of the most interesting
forms of teaching is story telling. Why should we tell stories? Stories require
the child to understand language in a sequence. Sequence listening ensures
concentrated listening. And, if we could narrate a story for everything we
teach, the child will certainly remember it. To a one year old, what stories are
interesting? Obviously stories that have something to do with himself, mother,
father, grandfather, food or animals! How long should they be? Not more than 5
to 7 sentences. How should they be told? With a lot of fun and laughter. Where
should your child be when you tell a story? Preferably on your lap; other choice
areas are garden, on the swing or in the bathtub.So, here’s a story for your
Arjun loves apples. Mother
cuts the apple. Mother gives Arjun. Arjun eats the apple. Arjun is happy. Arjun
If this story is accompanied
by the right actions such as really giving Arjun an apple, or showing him a
picture, pretending to feed him, but hugging him each time anyway, you will find
that he will come to anticipate the next words and actions. If you repeat the
story often he will even call out his favourite words. Speech comes faster to
children who hear the same words often.
Last week, we talked of
showing him the map of India.
tried to give you the same monuments in two sizes. Take the big size first.
Example the Taj Mahal. Teach Arjun the Taj exactly as you teach other G.K.
cards. When he knows it perfectly, take the small size Taj and put it on the
India map where Agra is. Then say,
1:“See Arjun, Taj is in
Taj Mahal is in Agra.
Taj Mahal is in Agra, and
Agra is in Uttar Pradesh.
this with all the other monuments. Do 10 G.K. cards as usual, but when you paste
the monuments stick, only one a day. Where I have not been able to get the
monuments I have given special birds/ animals/ people of a state. This way,
Arjun will know something special about each state.
this case, it is enough to teach Arjun the world as a place of all kinds of
animals, monuments and people. We can do the political after we have finished
one picture a day, say what you have stuck and where you have stuck them.
: The desert picture - Stick it on the map and say, “See Arjun, Sahara
desert.” Then do as you have done for India. Make him touch the desert picture
and say, Sahara desert.
: If he already knows camel, you could say, “ See, camel in the Sahara
Add one more
picture : Opera House .
: Camel in the Sahara desert of Africa.
Opera House is in Sydney.
Stick a walrus near Canada and say this is a walrus
Camel in the Sahara desert of Africa
Opera House is in Sydney in Australia
Walrus is in Canada.
1. Start the world map after you have done India for at
least 2 weeks.
2. Every 6th
day don’t teach anything new but
can obtain several such pictures from where you find them and stick them on the
maps as long there is no possibility of confusion - do not use similar pictures
for two locations.
Aruna Raghavan can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org