An Introduction to Readability Levels
I began homeschooling over thirty years ago when Ray and I taught my younger sister (who was in eighth grade at the time) in our home. During my first several years of homeschooling, I used early readers when my children were first learning to read, but I did not care for “readers” for older children. I always felt that abridged or excerpted stories were inferior—and that children should read whole books.
Donna Reish, author of fifty language arts and writing curriculum books, answers a reader’s questions about preparing a preschooler to learn to read. Based on Donna’s graduate thesis about natural readers (children who learn to read with no instruction at all), this audio answers questions about what reading readiness is and what to do while waiting for it, what characteristics are common in homes of natural readers, the outcomes of creating a natural reader’s environment in your home, and more. Donna also gives twenty tips for teaching letters and sounds.
|Speaking about “Building Study Skills and Comprehension” at a conference
There are many aspects of teaching a child how to learn, one of which is working to increase our children’s comprehension. When people have good comprehension, they can learn anything, anywhere, anytime.
There are three primary ways that we have worked to increase our children’s comprehension: (1) Discussion with parents and those more knowledgeable than the child; (2) Good questions following reading or discussions; and (3) Provide a rich background of experience.
The first two of those go hand-in-hand. Discussion of everything with our children from very young ages has given our kids experiences in areas that they would normally not have experiences in. It gives us the opportunity to teach all the time—and gives them learning hooks that they create with the discussion material to bring into other learning situations.
Good questions, not just rote questions, help the student think more deeply about subjects and allow you to observe his thought processes and help them along. Lastly, a rich background of experience gives your student the edge in learning any subject. Like discussion, it gives a child more knowledge, more background, more information to bring into future learning scenarios.
I am adding some information about teaching children how to learn, good materials, links to articles, etc., in the sidebar of this article for those who would like to study this further. Just being aware of always teaching our kids how to learn, how to study, how to research, how to further their understanding is a big step in teaching kids how to learn.
Tips and Links for Teaching Children How to Learn
~People often ask us what we would have done differently in our homeschool. One of the things I would have done differently is that every child, every year would have done a thinking skills book of some sort from the Critical Thinking Company: http://www.criticalthinking.com/index.jsp?code=c
Welcome to Wordy Wednesday! Did you know that strengthlessnesses is the longest word containing only one (albeit very repeating) vowel? Neither did I. And I don’t really care for it. I mean, it is cumbersome to say–and that is a whole lot of e’s and s’s to remember to spell the crazy word.
But I love unique and unusual–and strengthlessnesses is definitely both of those! Here are some vitals about this “longest word containing only one (albeit very repeating) vowel”:
1. It is a noun–did you know that when a word ends in ness, it is almost always a noun? This helps with standardized testing greatly. Ness words are nearly always nouns, so in a “fill in the blank” type of assignment, if the word in question ends in ness, it has to go in a spot where a noun fits.
Tricky Trick to Help It Stick: We have students learn key words to remember things. For instance, to remember that ness words are nearly always nouns, memorize a key word or two that you know is a noun and that ends in ness.
Other ness nouns: happiness, hopefulness, craziness, gratefulness, joyfulness, smartness
2. It has to do with having strength–we teach our students to think about what you already know–anytime–but especially when approaching a new word. Is there anything about the word strengthlessnesses that you already know?
a. You know what its base means. You already what strength means!
b. You know that less means less or not having that quality. (We do a lot of root and affix studies here!)
Because of those two “things you already know,” you can know that strengthlessnesses has something to do with not having strength (i.e. less strength).
Note: You know more than you think you know! Repeat this over and over to yourself: “I know more than I think I know. I know more than I think I know.” Use what you know to learn more!
3. It can be spelled syllable-by-syllable (if you are a biphonic man or biphonic woman!): strength-less-ness-es.
4. You can also make up a trick to remember how to spell it, such as “It contains four e’s and six s’s. Or that it has four syllables–which tells you that it will have at least four vowels in it (or y’s acting like vowels)–because a syllable always contains at least one vowel. A vowel is what makes a syllable!
5. You can learn the variations of this word–because you can remember from your vocabulary studies with Language Lady that suffixes (affixes added to the ends of words) might change the SPELLING of the base word (pity is changed to piti in pitiful) but does not change the MEANING of the base word. Even with three suffixes added (less, ness, and es), the base word of strength still means strength.
a. stengthless–adjective meaning without strength (less words are often adjectives!)
b. strengthlessly–adverb meaning without strength (ly words are often adverbs)
c. strengthelessness–a noun describing someone or something that is without strength (ness words are often nouns)
d. strengthlessnesses–a noun that means more than one someone or something that is without strength (es makes the word plural).
So there you have it–the longest word with only one repeating vowel. Did you know that you could learn so much from one word? You know a lot more than you think you know! Smile…
“The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives.” Robert M Hutchins
I wanted to add some more thoughts to yesterday’s “study skills with textbook previewing.” These are in no certain order or age group—just some things that haven’t really fit in the last couple! (How’s that for organizing and study skills???)
1. Taking the textbook preview further
There are a number of ways that you can take the previewing of textbooks that I discussed yesterday even further with your children for more comprehension of the material:
a. Do his first few assignments out of the book with him, pointing out the things again that you observed in your first preview. This will help him see that those things are not just good things to know, but also helpful for completely homework quicker and more accurately.
b. Help him prepare for his first test with his textbook and you by his side. Show him how he can use the glossary, sidebars, table of contents, etc. to quickly fill in his study guide or quickly determine what the most important aspects of the chapter are in order to prepare for a test.
c. As you are previewing a text (for the first time or an additional time), use a large sticky note to record what you find. Write the title of the text at the top, then make notes about what it contains as far as study and homework helps. Stick this in the front of his textbook and help him refer to it when he is doing homework or test preparation. You could even record a plus and minus system, such as
+++ means something is going to be really helpful—a +++ beside the Table of Contents, for instance
+ beside a word he writes in the front of his book tells him that this might be somewhat helpful—Example: +Some graphs
– No study questions at end of chapter—again, he can make a list in the front of his book (on a large sticky note), etc.
d. Help him “label” different sections of his book with sticky notes along the edges. For example, you could put a yellow one at the beginning of each chapter and a pink one on the page that has definitions for that chapter, etc.
2. Prepare your younger student for textbooks by using user-friendly non-fiction books
Maybe you are not in the textbook stage with your kids; however, you can begin preparing them for those all important study skills that I described yesterday with quality non-fiction books. If kids at ages five, six, eight, and ten, learn to navigate around Dorling Kindersley, Eyewitness, and Usborne books (among many others), they will be heads and shoulders above other children who have only been exposed to fictional stories (more on the benefits of fiction later!).
These outstanding non-fiction books have literally hundreds of topics that interest kids, but they are so colorful and alluring, you do not feel like you are “teaching” at all. Additionally, they have many aspects that your child’s future textbooks will also have: glossaries, Tables of Contents, sidebars, graphs, pictures, inserts, definitions, bold font, italics, etc. Reading these to and with your children when they are younger will provide a natural step into textbooks later on.
Note: We teach our students (in our home, our cottage classes, and in our language arts books) a simple memory device for remembering fiction and non-fiction:
Fiction=fake (both begin with f)
Non-fiction=not fake (both begin with nf)