Easy Highs Can Hurt

Inhalants, and sight-reading vs. phonics.

My 9-year-old daughter recently told me a few friends were breathing felt-tip markers at school. I pointed out that this was a very stupid thing to do and could hurt them. What else should I tell my daughter?

Unfortunately, children are discovering that common household products are the easiest way to get high. Depending on the level of dosage, users can experience slight stimulation, feelings of less inhibition, loss of consciousness, and even death.

The National Inhalant Prevention Coalition (NIPC) states that by the time a student reaches eighth grade, one in five will have used inhalants. According to the NIPC, education about inhalants should begin as early as age 4. Be careful not to tell too much too soon, not to rely on scare tactics, or give details on how to use inhalants. Here are some of suggestions for talking to 7- to 10-year-olds.

•     Be a good role model when using cleaning products, solvents, glues, and other products. Let your child see you reading labels and following instructions, and point out the importance of doing this.

•     Stress the importance of oxygen to life, as inhaling many substances results in oxygen deprivation.

•     Talk with your children about the term “toxic.”

•     Discuss and discourage introducing poisons into the body.




Sight-Reading Versus Phonics

My second-grader simply can’t sound out most new words; however, she is a very good reader. If you tell her what a word is, she remembers or figures it out through context. Her teacher says, “Some kids just don’t get phonics,” but this remark bothers me. Is it important for my child to become more skilled with phonics?

Children learn to read in different ways. Your daughter is a sight-reader. This is the way children were taught to read years ago. It would be helpful if your daughter could use phonics to recognize the first sound in words, as it would make it easier for her to use context in recognizing them. While she may never be great at phonics, it’s highly probable she already has some knowledge of phonics simply through her ability to read so well.

You should be able to increase your child’s knowledge of phonics by teaching her some common word families. A word family is a combination of letters that makes a certain sound. If your child knows the sound of a word family, such as “ay,” she would be able to sound out and read “ay” family words including hay, day, may, and pay.

The word family approach is incorporated in many basal reading series, phonics systems, and reading-readiness lessons. When your child cannot sound out a word, recognizing a word family in it will help her to do so.

Here are the 38 most commonly used word families used in one syllable words: -ay,- ill, -ip, -at, -am, -ag, -ack, -ank, -ick, -ell, -ot, -ing, -ap, -unk, -ail, -ain, -eed, -y, -out, -ug, -op, -in, -an, -est, -ink, -ow, -ew, -ore, -ed ,-ab, -ob, -ock, -ake, -ine, -ight, -im, -uck and -um.

Your daughter can have fun learning these words. Introduce her to a word family and then have her see how many words she can write. For reading practice, visit dearteacher.com and look at our Skinny Books that are word family readers.


Other questions or comments? Send them to dearteacher@dearteacher.com or ask them on the columnists’ website at dearteacher.com.


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