Perspectives on teaching reading.

MOO Words. These are the Most Often Occurring words in English. The 500 MOO words used by the Great Saltmine & Hifwip manual probably account for over 60% of the 10,000 most often occurring words in adult level literature. Added to these were: frequently occurring irregular words; words that offer special spelling problems; homonyms; and "survival" words. These brought the S&H Core Vocabulary to 837 words. This core list is a powerful and effective teaching tool!

Direct/indirect phonics. Direct phonics is showing a student the phonogram and then teaching him the sound or sounds it represents. Indirect phonics is teaching children a word by whole word memorization and expecting them to inductively (from the whole to the part) learn the sounds made by letters or letter combinations. Indirect phonics is known as "phony phonics."

Finger Clock. Have the child trace his letters on the TATRAS Finger Clock with his index finger until he knows the correct form. When he is sure of the letter form, switch to the back side of the card where there is no clock face.

Pencil Gripper. When parents are unsure of how to hold the pencil or students slip out of the correct position easily, use the enclosed pencil gripper. Pay very close attention to how young children hold their pencils. Even while just play-writing it is possible for children to quickly acquire the habit of incorrectly holding pencils.

Teaching Disabled. Phonics reading experts believe that less than 1% of our children have neurological problems that cause reading disabilities. The high percentage of problem readers in our schools are caused by damaging reading-teaching techniques such as whole word memorization. This is done by the hesitant teaching of inadequate phonics and teaching whole word memorization (teaching sight words before appropriate phonics are known).

Do you feel you child may be a slow learner? No beginning reader should be deprived of the advantages offered by TATRAS Vertical Phonics. The more severe the child's anticipated or actual problem, the more important it is that he be given an opportunity to benefit from this program. But do call TATRAS for suggestions on working with very slow students.   TATRAS cannot guarantee rapid progress but we can usually allow the parent to achieve steady progress with the student and protect the student from feelings of failure.

Comprehension. Children start the 1st grade with a speaking/understanding vocabulary of from 4,000 to 20,000 words. Comprehension of material read in elementary school is no problem for most children if they can decode the words easily. To develop comprehension for later grades, "Start 'em reading and keep 'em reading." (Edward Fry) Remember, for beginning readers comprehension is a function of language, not reading. Effective phonics skills are the single most important reading "comprehension skill" a child can learn.

TATRAS Suggested Daily Lesson Format. Here are the four parts of each daily lesson: (If available, see page 48 of the S&H Manual for a fuller description.)

Part 1. Dictation. Initially a student will just trace the letters with his finger on the finger clock. Later he will write in the wide-lined primary pad with a pencil.

Part 2. Phonograms. Student gets a one-minute timing (or, at first, a ½- minute timing.)

Part 3. Words. Student reads words always starting from the beginning. (The starting point is moved ahead as he masters the words.)

Part 4. Reading. Text reading is normally not done while a beginning reader is still learning the Penny Primer. A student should know the first 20-30 phonograms and know at least the first three groups of corewords before being required to read text regularly. 

Text Ideas. Tutors working with older students should consider using poems/epic speeches for daily reading.  Work only with one item until it is mastered.  Start with first few lines of material slowly adding more lines as student achieves competency. For ideas, download PDF poem set, below.

© 1992, 1994, 2001 TATRAS®

Poem Selection (PDF file):  8. Jr Orator Set