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Both boys have been reading for long time now. I think we are about two years past Dwyer at this point. That doesn't mean there isn't still more to learn about reading. When you've finished the Dwyer pamphlet, or the reading section of your AMI or AMS album, work begins in the elementary language albums. Most of those albums deal with grammar, not reading. However, they do begin with a *few* word study presentations. These typically cover suffixes, prefixes, compound words, word families, synonyms, and antonyms. NOW does the child know everything they know about reading? No, but it can seem on the surface like what one might call specifically "reading work" stops here.
In reality, the work doesn't stop there. My understanding of the Montessori approach is that the fourth Great Lesson, the history of writing, spurs continued work in this area. This lesson keeps returning the child to the study of etymology and that the study of the origins of words takes care of a lot of the spelling and reading issues that remain. The party line seems to be that as long as the child is provided with real (not dumbed-down) reading materials, a notebook, and the freedom to make and record observations, most of this will take care of itself. It is also my understanding that the directress is supposed to pay close attention and make sure they ARE covering what they need to cover through these explorations.
Kudos to quality directresses that manage this with up to 30 children because when I was honest with myself I realized right away that I was going to drop the ball with my two children. So, while I trust the method when implemented well to do the job, I honestly knew I was not going to implement this well. I am too lazy. I was going to forget. I was not going to pay close enough attention. I've talked about this many time in the past, but I thought I should mention again that this is one of two purposes for which I bought The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading. I didn't use it to teach my children to read, they learned to read using the Dwyer approach and traditional Montessori works. However, when I was looking for readers that used single and double-letter key sounds, and not 500 sight words like most of the "easy" books at the library, I made some from the OPG. It is also working well for reminding me about all the little weird things they need to learn about the English language, for spelling purposes as much as reading, and prompting me to make sure they are exposed. Frankly, most adults myself included need a little reminder of what the rules of this language actually ARE.
I don't sit down with the book and say "let's do a lesson out this book." I make a word list that we read together and hope that they make their own observation about what those words have in common. I might make a couple green cards to add to their ever-increasing collection of sight words that we began with Dwyer. Then, they read a little book that I have made using text from the OPG that practices the rule or observation at hand. That is usually it. I could have them record the observation in their journals, but I haven't been. I don't think that what we are doing is terribly different from what the Montessori procedure for this kind of learning is. What IS different is that the experience is manufactured.
For example, recently Me Too did a word study of "to," "two," and "too." He already knew how to read all three of these words but he needed to learn when and how each is used. This is the type of thing that is from one perspective just "missing" from the Montessori albums. It isn't truly "missing" from Montessori because etymology, wide-reading, and guided observation "could" cover this. However, if you are expecting everything your child needs to know to be in those albums, it just isn't.
What I did to manufacture an "observation" moment with Me Too was to hand him three new green cards for his sight word/puzzle word collection: to, two, too. He, of course, noticed that they all said the same thing. He was super bothered by this. He has been reading those words in context for a long time but had probably never seen them side-by-side all at once. I explained what each is used for ("two" represents the number, "too" can be exchanged with the words "also" or "very", "to" is used the rest of the time). Then, he just did some simple sentence to picture matches using sentences that had these words in them. We observed that different spellings were used in the different sentences.
Afterward he was ready to decide which spelling to use for himself. I provided him with sentences with a blank where the to/too/two should go and little cut-out words to use to fill in the blank (check out Kal-El in the background with his fraction circles and fraction charts!).
Here you can see he is part way through the work. I wanted to leave this work on the shelf for him to repeat independently so I built in some controls. First, I only provided the right number of each word. If he gets to the end and he has the wrong to/too/two for his last sentence he knows he made an error. Second, I did make a control chart with the answers.
We did our last to/too/two activity on a different day when I wasn't taking photos. The last activity was a sentence and picture match in which the sentences had multiple versions of to/too/two in them. For example: "My uncle went to the store to buy two umbrellas. I wanted to go too." (I think I provided a picture of two umbrellas.)
So, you can see through all of this Me Too is not getting a sit down lesson out of a scripted book (Although the scripts are very helpful when you need help articulating the rule in clear words that a child of this age will understand.). However, I didn't have to remember on my own that Me Too needed to learn this. I didn't have to think of examples for a word list by myself (That sounds silly in this instance, but is less silly when you are doing something like studying the schwa sound.), I didn't have to invent my own sentences. I didn't even think of the fill-in-the-blank activity myself. I just tweaked it to have Montessori-like controls.
And the whole time Kal-El was just plugging away on fractions. He loves the fraction charts and stares at them like they are a picture book.