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Introduction Kevin, a third grader, told me what he would tell a Kindergartener about learning to read: “I learned to read from my dad and my mom. When I was four I started reading small books. When I was six, I started reading chapter books. And I think you should try it too. What I like about reading is that you can read a book and pretend it’s like you’re watching a movie, and I hope that you can read too.” I wrote down what Kevin told me because writing was a
challenge for him. So was reading. Kevin’s many strengths helped him to persevere as he learned to deal with his visual and auditory processing challenges, previously called dyslexia, described in chapter 10. Even though Kevin exaggerated how early he learned to read, he covered the most important parts of the process: his parents’ support, learning step by step, visualizing what he reads, reading for meaning, and the pleasure of reading. Whether your child struggles with
reading and writing or soaks it up like a sponge, this book can help you support your child to read and write more effectively, and with enjoyment. One of my parents told me about their second grader, “Mark used to cry when he was supposed to read at home for his homework, and we would cry along with him; it was so upsetting. But now he enjoys reading since he’s been working with you and is doing much better.” I hope that your reading of Breaking the Secret Code will enable you
to help your child yourself. There are ways to help your child enjoy reading if he doesn’t. You can tailor the activities described to fit his level of reading, needs, strengths and challenges. You may already know what studies show: “Of all academic subjects, research shows reading is the most sensitive to family influence. Moreover, success in reading appears to be the gateway to success in other academic areas as well.” (National Center for Education Statistics, 2004). Reading
opens up the world of imagination and learning. By supporting your child as he learns to read, the enjoyment of hearing stories read to him carries over to learning to read. To paraphrase Mel Levine, M.D., author of The Myth of Laziness: You don’t get children to succeed by telling them to try harder. Children try harder when they succeed.” Patience is what’s needed, not pressure Most adults don’t remember the steps they took to learn how to read. We take it for granted
until we learn it all over again through our children. When children learn to read, they are putting together many puzzle pieces: blending letter-sounds into words, memorizing many words by sight, and making sense of what they’re reading. As reading becomes more complex, they need to be able to follow the sequence of what’s described, while extracting the main ideas and details from stories and articles. For writing, they learn to break words into sounds, using phonetic spelling at first
to express themselves, and gradually learning writing conventions and “dictionary” spelling. Reading and writing work together, and some children learn to read from writing. Breaking the Secret Code will help give you a sense of *your child’s strengths and challenges *what kind of learner your child is *where your child is in the process of learning reading and writing *what your child’s needs and next steps are *what activities, games, and guidance will
support your child’s learning in an engaged, effective way Along with the wheel and making fire, written language is one of the most important human inventions. It is an everyday miracle that through listening, young children absorb the sounds and patterns of their native language and then learn to speak. Learning to read and write is a much more recent human achievement. Each child re-enacts the history of written language in his own way, from drawing to word symbols and the particular
code of their native tongue. From cave paintings and messages on stone, to hieroglyphs, and then the “alpha beta” (the first two letters of the Greek alphabet) spread around the Mediterranean by the Phoenician sailors (therefore called “phonics” or sounded out letters), our written language has evolved from the secret code known only to scribes and royalty to become, through education, the birthright of every child. Your child’s early scribbles and drawings are the first steps
toward learning the “phonetic” letters of our Western languages. Through written language, your child learns to read and navigate the world around him. He learns to communicate through writing, to put his thoughts in order to make them clear to others. The heritage of how we write our language has been passed down for many, many generations. The traditions include the many conventions we use to make our written thoughts clear to the reader. Helping your child break the secret code of
reading and writing will support him at the critical beginning of a life long process, with a love of learning.
No other book on reading is so parent-friendly and down to earth. Breaking the Secret Code tells you what you can do to support your child’s learning and how to deal with struggles. The children’s drawings and writing make it very real and engaging. Bev Ludwig Mentor Teacher
Leslie Marks Breaking the Secret Code
Imagine you are a puppy, a puppy who is not even born yet. You are curled up inside your mama with warm water all around you like a soft pillow. At first you are only as big as the ‘o’ on this page. You are floating inside a soft silvery sac, like a balloon full of water. You have a ropey cord like a sea-diver’s that goes from your belly button to your mama and she feeds you through this cord. The first sound you hear
with your new ears is your mama’s heartbeat: ka BOOM, ka BOOM, ka BOOM. Your own heart beats faster because you’re so little: boom boom boom boom.
Leslie Marks Imagine You Are a Puppy