Reading Instruction the CM Way

The reading process should be a pleasurable experience, both for the mother and child.  However, far too many reading programs take the joy out of reading by requiring the child to memorize numerous rules and meaningless letter combinations. Charlotte insisted that children are not analytical thinkers at this young age. They care for things, not words.  They must be able to see in their mind's eye what they are reading.

"Here we have the key to reading. No meaningless combinations of letters, no cla, cle, cli, clo, clu, no ath, eth, ith, oth, uth, should be presented to him. The child should be taught from the first to regard the printed word as he already regards the spoken word, as the symbol of fact or idea of full of interest." Charlotte Mason vol 1

She recommended that we simplify phonic instruction, only teaching the most basic rules and that the letter combinations be learned with real words. At all times, the reading should be interesting and meaningful to the child. Here is a great way to apply word building using DUPLO bricks

She stressed that word building is helpful in the reading process, but children learn to read more by sight than by sounding out.

"You would agree with the writer of an article in a number of a leading review: 'Plough ought to be written and printed plow; through, thru; enough, enuf; ought, aut or ort'; and so on. All this goes on the mistaken idea that in reading we look at the letters which compose a word, think of their sounds, combine these, and form the word. We do nothing of the kind; we accept a word, written or printed, simply as the symbol of a word we are accustomed to say. If the word is new to us we may try to make something of the letters, but we know so well that this is a shot in the dark, that we are careful not to say the new word until we have heard someone else say it."
If words were always made on a given pattern in English, if the same letter always represented the same sounds, learning to read would be an easy matter; for the child would soon acquire the few elements of which all words would, in that case, be composed. But many of our English words are, each, a law unto itself: there is nothing for it, but the child must learn to know them at sight;....Lessons in word-making help him to take intelligent interest in words; but his progress in the art of reading depends chiefly on the 'reading at sight' lessons.  CM  vol 1

My personal experience as a certified reading teacher and now as a homeschooling parent affirm Miss Mason's claims.  Children need to be able to sound out new words, but they need even more exposure to many, many words in meaningful story form. Phonics plays a valuable role in the reading process, but it is often overused with young children. Maintaining a balance of sounding out and sight words is the key to good reading instruction.