A few parents asked me about books I read with my son Oskar (6).
Above is the picture of the books we read last week:
Here are examples of words I taught Oskar on the basis of these books:
participate, synchronisation, paralympic, rigorous, maximise, composite, supervision, destination, isolation, snail mail, supernatural, thermal scanner, motion detector, adrenaline, reportedly etc.
Oskar also learnt:
how to make a sling, how to make a splint, how to learn Morse Code by heart in an easy way, basics of semaphore messaging, how to build a dam, how to send an email with an attachment, why people blog, how browser works, how to build a bug hotel, how to collect spider’s web and other more or less important things.
We were also reading:
‘Little House in the Big Woods’ by Laura Ingalls Wilder and ‘Baśnie z czterech stron świata. Najpiękniejsze opowieści’ by Agnieszka Sobich. The first books took my son to an unknown world for him, where people had to survive despite the absence of electricity, shops, and Minecraft :). Oskar loves this book. The second book was in Polish to keep Oskar’s first language in shape. We have not finished these books yet.
A few important points:
- As you cans see, I provided my son with mixture of informational and narrative books (informational books develop his conceptual knowledge and Tier 3 vocabulary, narrative books are more appropriate for general language development and Tier 2 words)
- we read books in two languages to keep the balance between development of first language and English
- I focus on Tier 2 vocabulary (words such as participate, rigorous, maximise, isolation). I don’t avoid Tier 3 words, however I don’t focus on teaching their labels but rather on conceptual knowledge behind these words. Oskar does not have remember a word ‘photosynthesis’, I am happy when he knows what is ‘photosynthesis’ about.
- When teaching vocabulary I provide Oskar’s with a child-friendly definition, multiple examples, repetitions and ‘deep-processing’ activities
- I encourage Oskar to say aloud novel words to enhance his phonological awareness
- I try to use novel words in daily activities (e.g. during daily walks)
- I don’t expect Oskar to learn new words right away. Actually, I expect him to forget most of the words we have learnt. The next time we will encounter these words in texts he might be able to infer their meanings from the context more easily. Also, he will probably need less elaborated explanations.
- I read books 45-50 minutes a day (30 minutes before bedtime and 15 minutes during a day, 5-10 minutes in the morning)
- Some books I select for Oskar myself, some books Oskar chooses for himself
- ‘Understanding Computer Networks’ was clearly too challenging for Oskar, however, we were still able to discuss: email, browser, attachments, blogs and networks, hackers
- Generally, I read to my son, however when I find sections particularly interesting for Oskar, he is encouraged to read them independently (e.g. he read ‘Ghost Hunting’ on his own).
In the future blogposts I will elaborate on several important issues I have mentioned in the above points.