Are you feeling frustrated with teaching your child sight words? Can you not understand how they aren’t getting it? Have you gone over and over and over the same words and they are still struggling? I understand your frustration. Some kids get language and breeze straight into it. Others take longer and struggle with the basics. Growing up I was the later and now my daughter also struggles.
I was feeling incredibly frustrated up until about a month ago with my daughter not getting it after all the work we do on her sounds, blends and sight words. It was doing my head in and I could not understand how it was coming along so slowly. Then it all finally clicked for me. I had a life changing epiphany when I started learning hirigana (Japanese).
OMG it’s the best thing I have ever done for understanding children’s learning of language. You are not just learning vobaulary ie French or Italian would be easier as I wouldn’t have to remember a whole new set of characters. Children are learning squiggles to attach sounds to them and then to blend them into words. As a teacher I know this in theory but to actually be the one doing it is excruciatingly painful for me. I get so frustrated at my inability to blend the sounds and it’s awful. I know the characters and make stupid mistakes all the time and second guess myself.
Techniques I have seen children use many times I have started doing myself due to feeling brain freeze when put on the spot to say a sound, word or playing a game with flash cards or balloon pop. When playing games when I make one mistake I become flustered and miss several characters I know. Then when someone watching me who knows Japanese I feels intimidated and once again get brain freeze. It’s awful and I feel dumb even though I know the answer when I have the time to think about it (and I mean a lot of time). Lastly I spell the word wrong even thought I have spelt it right before DOH!!
Here are my top tips to help your child.
1. Give them time to find the answer and I mean lots of time. Sit there quietly and try to not speak if you can. Don’t jump in too quickly as it takes time to think and access the information in their brains.
2. Let them look back at other words and use the strategies of matching the word from previous pages which are the same. This strategy will help strengthen their recall of the word and recognition of it.
3. Don’t put them on spot as they will get brain freeze.
4. Don’t push them too far a head of where they as it will just make them feel dumb and insecure.
5. Keep practice the sounds again, again, again and again.
6. Practice the sounds and word blends in many different ways. Online games, play dough, foam writing, painting, memory, word games and fun writing with pictures.
Language is incredibly hard to learn and I have even found myself making up words when put on the spot to say a word, I haven’t even read the word as I have felt like a deer in headlights. I thought I was patient before but I wasn’t really. I still feel some frustration but am far more aware with it now and try to keep quiet. It’s making a difference to my daughter, she still gets frustrated with her own learning but I am being more patient and re-directing her so to help make the experience a more pleasant one. Your child will get there, try and make it as fun and pleasant as you can because it’s bloody tough going for them.
As for my own snails pace I will continue to ride through the frustrations, the mistakes, the dumbness and the wrong pronunciation. Why? As I know what determination and persistence is and that’s what achieves the results. I know one day I will be fluent, it won’t be tomorrow, it won’t be next month but each day I learn something new and all of those small steps push me along the road.
千里之行，始於足下, by the Chinese philosopher Laozi “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” (PS the characters are in Chinese and I cut and pasted them from the net LOL, it’s not really me understanding them)
Have a great day and if you liked this. Please share it with another parent or teacher. Thank you.