Can you raed
tihs? Olny
srmat poelpe

I cdnuolt blveiee taht
I cluod aulaclty
uesdnatnrd waht I
was rdanieg. The
phaonmneal pweor of
the hmuan mnid,
aoccdrnig to a
rscheearch at
Cmabrigde Uinervtisy,
it deosn't mttaer in
waht oredr the ltteers
in a wrod are, the olny
iprmoatnt tihng is taht
the frist and lsat
ltteer be in the rghit
pclae. The rset can be
a taotl mses and you
can sitll raed it
wouthit a porbelm.
Tihs is bcuseae the
huamn mnid deos not
raed ervey lteter by
istlef, but the wrod as
a wlohe.
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Should your child learn phonics?

For most children, learning to read is easier and faster when phonics are
taught, assuming that phonics is taught by a good teacher.  (Any subject is fun
to learn with a good teacher, but a bad teacher sometimes does more harm
than good.)

Phonics is the basis of our written language, as opposed to the symbolic
writing used in Mandarin Chinese, for example.  

In some cases, however, a child's brain is simply not wired for phonics.  In
that case, alternative strategies need to be used.  

Try the following:

1.  Read to your child constantly, with the child looking at the book with you.  
Point to the words as you read, so the words become visually familiar.

2.  Talk to your child about how to figure out what a word might mean by
considering the meaning of a sentence or a story as a whole.

3.  Write down what your child dictates, and have him read his own words.

4.   Use flash cards to teach words by sight.

5.  Use Glass Analysis-type flash cards so that your child recognizes common
letter patterns.  You can easily make your own cards.  Make sets of flash
cards for simple letter patterns that appear in your child's reading
selections.   You can have twenty or more words for one letter pattern.  

"an"                      "ar"                "ill"                "ark"

ran                        car                fill                   ark
can                        bar               still                  bark
Dan                       far                stillness          dark
fan                        farmer          mill                  park
Fanta                    par               miller               barking
fantastic               party            will                  parking
ant                        jar                willing             darker
                       car                willingness
                       cart               silly
                       cartoon         silliness
                       market          Billy
(I've added this last word in all seriousness.  Our memories are powerfully
triggered when something makes us laugh or surprises us.  Seeing that you
have made a flash card with the word "fart" on it will do both for your child!  
And a laugh won't hurt your relationship with your child, will it?  It will make
your child more willing to work with you.  And you will achieve your primary
goal:  your child will remember the "ar" letter pattern!  You might want to
take a few extra moments at this teachable time to mention that this word is
seldom appropriate to use in the company of others.)              

For an older child, who is probably embarrassed and unhappy about working
at a beginning level, you might use "Kill Bill," or any other words you can find
in popular culture.  You can also use these words to start a discussion with
your child about the good and bad effects of popular culture.

5.  Talk to your child.  Talk about anything, everything, all the time.  Words
are tools for success and happiness in both our personal and public lives.  
Even if your child never becomes a good reader, he might become a great
speaker!  And most important, he will become a great human being if he
receives love, understanding and guidance from his family.

6.  Discuss as many ideas as possible with your child.  Just because she can't
read, it doesn't mean that she shouldn't be learning to think as well as or
better than other children her age.  Some geniuses are dyslexic and never
learn to read well, but they nevertheless attain prominence in their fields.
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