A father challenges everything you think you know about learning to read, and calls for simpler approach.
Provo-Orem, UT (OPENPRESS) Russ Fugal has launched a campaign to delay phonemic instruction until after children are already reading fluently, and is asking the community to rally behind the idea. "Phonemic decoding is so cognitively demanding that most children, who are normally very adept at pattern recognition, struggle with developing the skill in the first 6 7 years of life," he says, "Reading is not rocket science, but many educators insist that it should be."
Ellie Fugal, age 7, reads at a pace of 350 to 450 words per minute. Her father, Russ Fugal, credits her ability to a novel approach to learning to read. He had logged the books his daughter has read on Goodreads, and in September of 2015, when the tally surpassed 300 books, with over 30,000 pages, and over 5 million words, Russ Fugal decided his daughter's fluency was too intriguing to go unstudied.
"My daughter is not a precocious reader," says Russ Fugal, "because despite her predilection for literature, reading was actually taught. She struggled with learning to read at age 4, as most 4 year olds do." Russ Fugal refers to a paper by Lynn A. Olson (et al), 'Precocious Readers: Past, Present, and Future,' and observes, "Olson says precocious reading is learned but not directly taught. Some children seem to infer the rules of reading much easier, and much younger, than other children do." Russ Fugal continued, "With my daughter I tried Whole Language, I tried Flash Cards, I tried Phonics, but she was just too frustrated with it. And so I really wanted to find a simpler way to help her learn how to read."
Russ Fugal credits his daughter's accelerated acquisition of reading to 4 simple steps. Two are obvious: Model Reading and Practice. The others are not so intuitive: Don't Withhold Information and Learn How to Practice. "fMRI studies show that reading doesn't involve sounding out words," says Russ Fugal, "You can learn to sound out words, but that's not learning to read. The only way to learn to read is to practice. Children who practice reading learn to read in spite of our best efforts, not because of them."
Russ Fugal has listed his 4 Simple Steps to Teach Your Child to Read on his Patreon page: www.patreon.com/rfugal