“Reading in Good Time”


Who I am- Dan Vilter

A Homeschooling Parent

A person who had a very difficult time being taught to read in the public schools of California in the 1960s

A college teacher for the past 28 years

What this session is about

The importance of letting your child discover their reading abilities.

Understanding why it is often thought that reading is an ability that must mastered by a certain age

Ideas for filling the road to reading

What this session is NOT about

Special reading curriculums for unschoolers

When or how to “teach” your child to read

What age to read?

There is no set age or developmental stage that it happens.

It is not before or after weaning

Or diapers

Or riding a bicycle

Or their first cotillion

Ultimately- When they are ready

It’s Okay

Walk, Talk, Comb our hair, etc


Classrooms need early readers

Because some children can read earlier, it is thought ALL children should

This fundamental concept torpedoes those who aren’t yet ready to read.

It is the beginning categorizing students

It is the beginnings of all that wasted time

To facilitate multiple students.

Powerful “teaching tools become available.

The hand out.

The worksheet.

Following instructions that don’t have to be endlessly repeated.

Because students are testable with written tests, that they can read, schools don’t have to rely on authentic assessment (the way unschooling parents live with and deeply understand the people we are raising)

Now can give those written tests,

manufactured tests,

Tests that don’t and can’t change for each person.

Tests that can now be easily pulled from the files.

To develop a base in literature.

It is often thought that once you can read, you can now start to develop an understanding of literature, an appreciation and a study of it.

This is as far off the mark as you can get.

Reading at an early age is a highly desirable tool for the SYSTEM that educates MASSES of people.


Don't put learning on hold until they can read.

Reading is the be all and end all of learning

You can’t. It’s not something you can shut off.

People are made to learn. Our instincts are to learn

It is in our DNA to learn all those things that can’t be put in our DNA

You are Unschooling so you don't have to follow a prescribed method or schedule or belief in teaching

Create a rich learning environment

Have lots of interesting stuff in your environment

Things that let you explore the world

Things that illustrate the world

Things that you as an adult love about the world.

Maybe the packaging any of it came in

Create a PRINT rich environment

Books magazines, games, newspapers


All things being equal, Complex thought comes natural to humans. Anyone given a chance to freely read will do it.

In my experience, I know of no adult that was free of pressures to read who does not know how to read

It does not need to be taught

It is pattern recognition a “decoding.”

Many things lead to reading:

What to do instead of “teaching” reading? Spend that time developing literacy in other ways:

Read to them. Stuff they want to hear. You know your kids, read as much of what they like as you can

(There are some who say that being read to IS reading)

Books on Tape and Audible

I Houdini, read by Lynn Readbanks-Great English Accent

Harry Potter, Jim Dale or Steven Fry

Excellent performances, Top notch diction, finest base for illustration

Can be listened to while multitasking

Live in a print rich environment

Read to them. Stuff any person wants to hear about, go beyond “children” and “Youth” Literature “Those stupid kids books.” Or “Readers”

Play games where word recognition is needed

Lists of dogs, Simpsons, 7 dwarfs

Post it notes games

Read to them. The stuff you are reading, news paper and magazines, novels, the operations manual for the new answering machine. Young children are capable of listening to and enjoying way more sophisticated material than they are able to read on their own.

Freely answer any question about spelling or what a word is without a hint of a reading or spelling lesson. They want to understand what they are reading about, not about reading. They can ask about read if that is the case.

Read to them. Street signs and place names. You can even comment on logos and type faces and what happens to words in commercial applications. Toys ‘r’ Us, U Haul etc.

Play rhyming or singing games

Rewritten BINGO song

Read to them. History – Reading History of US to Matthew. Make it a pleasurable time for all. It is time with Mom and Dad, you are sharing the riches of life with them

Let them freely play video games. Especially captivating ones where the instructions are written.

Books on Computer

The Cartoon History of the Universe

Narrated with words [complete pages]
4yo Matthew over and over ”showing reading Readiness”

Read to them. Familiar books, Over and over again. There is a need to know that it is the same words. That the code hasn’t changed. – Then change it just a little bit to call attention to that fact. You won’t need to, they will.

Get them a subscription to ANY periodical THEY want. Regardless to what your perceptions of it’s relevance to reading, learning or anything else. Like the rest of the unschooling world, it will be understood and valued by the person who chooses it.

Read to them. Books and hand outs from scouts or Campfire or the ball club or league, church, park day group.

Read the instruction manual that has been translated from another language and have a good time with it sharing your favorite parts


Think about “reading goals” – What do you want for your child and what does your child want?

To enjoy reading for pleasure

To be capable of reading for information

To reflect on what they read, to consider it, to think critically

To know how to find written resources as needed

To have wide exposure to various kinds of literature

Then think about how your “reading instruction” is likely to affect those goals if learning to read is stressful, upsetting, and feels impossible.

The Problem with “Teaching” reading for many people

It doesn’t work. I proof of that

It is un necessary. All the reading Unschoolers are proof of that

Puts undue pressure on people FROM THE PEOPLE WHO LOVE THEM THE MOST and puts that love into question.

It demoralizes-Makes them feel stupid and incomplete

Growing up in elementary school, I knew no one who wasn’t reading yet. Including myself,  that wasn’t filled with loathing with the idea of reading.  Full of fear and shame.

Creates negative relationship with the printed word

Forced reading sets up the hatred of books.

Read the MySpace blogs and bios of kids forced to read.

It wastes time that could be spent joyfully Learning anything and everything in the world


Keep your focus positive. Getting the negative labels off of your child and out of your head is more than being a spin doctor

“My child will read someday.”

“My child is not reading *YET*

They are currently developing their reading skills

Not “My child can’t read” and then “He’s a LATE reader”

Kids allowed to learn on their own timetable without being labeled as “Late” or “Behind” (or being fearful or ashamed) will usually read sometime between 4 years and 13 years old and some children will naturally fall outside even that wide range-This is normal-

Instead of feeling they are behind, instead of focusing on not yet reading, Better to live and learn in ways that work well for that child and let reading happen later.

There are advantages to later reading:

auditory memory skills are very well developed, attentiveness to verbal information has been honed

Greater language abilities and vocabulary the easier it will be to deduce words in the written form.

How does a person know that they have a word if it is not a word they know?

They will “catch up, even if they are older when starting”

It is an advantage to have a larger knowledge base and vocabulary that isn’t limited by supposed reading limitations

Many people learn to read overnight.

Matthew was a story teller long before reading

Text based games on computer [with mom reading] became “Voice Based” games in the park with friends. A pied piper.

Learning to read at your own pace saves all those years of frustration, instills confidence and empowers you to lean about the rest of your world with that confidence and self esteem.


 My experience is, that in general, Boys motor skills earlier, reading later, and girls often develop reading earlier, social skills earlier motor skills later.

What about learning disabilities? What if I ignore my child’s reading “problems” and it turns out he is dyslexic or something?

Many people who learn to read at an older age than might have learning differences or processing issues that interfere with them learning to read. Reading skills can take longer to develop for them.

The question is whither there is a good reason to intervene and provide “reading instruction.”

What I have observed and my own experience has been that kids given time to learn in their own way will naturally develop ways to read that work for them.

Some people don’t read left to right

Tech museum printed word exhibit one word reading machine

Frank Smith [ The book of Learning and Forgetting, Unspeakable Acts, Unnatural Practices: Flaws and Fallacies in "Scientific" Reading Instruction] says schools do a great job of teaching kids that “Learning is hard.” They also teach kids to think “I have problems.” Or “I’m learning disabled” and “I can’t read.” Kids get the message that they are broken and need to be fixed.

Don’t be a school

There is no rush for Unschoolers. We can err on the side of doing no harm.




Who I am- Dan Vilter

A Homeschooling Parent

Entertainment Professional

Techno geek- with lots of computers

What this session is about

Using the internet to your families benefit

Understanding the power of the Internet

Confronting fears about the internet

What this session is NOT about

How to set up parental controls on your computer

Determining how much time “on the computer” is healthy

Show and tell

my space

show a couple of sites

Dan Vilter

Even a 48 YO Guy can have a site

What about those ads?

Commercially driven

Like TV and Magazines and news papers it’s primary purpose is to deliver an audience to its advertisers. Don’t EVER forget that.

Show Bio
Show pics
Show comments
Rose’s space
Private site
Music that plays automatically

Easily added

The roots of My Space is music

Rose’s interests

Links to others that have listed them


Click and see comments

Note Bio is missing

Friends [87] of them

Click on Holly to show private

Click No day but today-Private


Limited info- 16 yo

Rose’s comments

Read a few what kind of info is being shared?

Blogs – more later

Breeze through a common post


View a few other sites


Often Function over form, and the function is that the kids are doing it themselves - decorating their own
rooms, so to speak

Look at established Music artists

Weard Al
Jethro Tull?
Gwen Stafani

Look at Robert Earl Keen?



Strangers knowing my child

Keep it private if needed

Only allow “friends” that you know or have some reason to know

A safe way to explore the world

"Don't talk to strangers" not necessary for homeschoolers, they can learn how to talk to strangers in your home with you being there. Take the opportunity to share with them what you think is appropriate conversations.
Not talking to Strangers can kill you- SAR story



Some creep looking at photos of my child

Not if it is private-Only the main photo

They are already looking at your children out in public, in church, at the store, in school etc.

They are unknown, the creep and your child

Stories of abduction

Search for MySpace Abductions

Follow the trail to runaways not abductions

The press loves this kind of story plays on fears.

Far more controlled than meetings in public without the parent, being wooing them away

Accidentally stumbling on to porn

Very Rare-twice in all the time I have been on the web.{more than 10 years}

Problem with “parental controls

Actions say “I don’t trust you”

They take control away form the child

Ultimately, they block knowledge

Seems counter to what I want for my child

It makes what is behind the wall desirable

They do a poor job

Blocking sites on health, anatomy and the Grand Titons

The school Library Journal, June 06 “We Don’t Need No Tech Control” {by the editor, Brian Kenney}

“The Internet is full of the best and worst of our culture, including, yes, predators. Just like there are predators at the mall and--as we've become all too aware of in the last decade--churches as well. But we all know that the solution, even if it was possible, is not to block young people from these venues, but t o teach responsible behavior, in life and online. Children need to learn how to navigate the Internet safely while preserving their privacy.”


It’s a great way to meet others that share interests

We found our robotics club and all the members that shared our interest in it

A safe way for children to meet other children

Roxanna’s Cats friend meeting us in Sacramento.

Meeting up with Anime friends at the convention

Meeting other Homeschoolers…

Set up first meetings in a safe location

You have control of the meeting


Why would your kids be talking to strangers on line anyway?

Discuss what is appropriate conversation in the situation
What is the realm of your computer relationship
Understanding that some people lie for there own gain
Personal Questions in Non Personal situations.
Send me a picture
Phone number
Credit Card
Where do you hang out, etc
What’s your real name?, Full Name?

Vehicle for advertising

Method of supporting the web

Everything has costs, seeing advertising is what is paying for the site

Opportunity to explore it with your child.

If any source tries to get you to buy something, explore how it functions with your child.
How is the content tainted?
Subtract music, lights.. and see the toy

Vote with your mouse

Too much or poor or annoying- don’t return

A way to have an audience for what you are passionate about

Chauncey’s videos

Roxanna’s Cats sites



Pursuing what you are passionate about


Magic Cards sites

Role playing game resources

Online chess, with friend in Chicago


Google Earth

Lots of Videogame websites

Dictionary [Dictony.com]







Google news

Local news SGV Tribune


Banking/bill paying


Cute Overload


Metafilter -Community Website to share info about a specific interest seeking comments [Cane Toads]

Ask Metafilter Questions about a specfic obscure question beyond standard search engines [A specific kids book, finding a dental exam chair]

Crafts [Craftster.com]

Google news

Television without pity

Cockeyed.com - Rob Cockerhan, How much is inside-length ramen noodles – sq ft of a million dollars, volume of a can of shaving cream

The web contains Information

Not necessarily Facts or knowledge

Or truth or accuracy for that matter

Or even Data

Instant Messages

Simultaneous online conversations

AIM (iChat)

Show an iChat session live

Add voice

define VOIP


National & Worldwide communication-

No or low cost

Long distance friendships
Moving away doesn’t mean ending relationships

Blogs {web-log}

Started as listing of links to resources on the web.

Developed into public Listing of opinion, politics, personal experience-diaries—News and opinion on a personal scale

Many contain more than written word-Photo’s graphics, video,

Most expect feedback from viewers


Homeschool blog

Danielle Congrave


Sandra page and blog


General interest blogs

J-Walk [cranky old guys]

Make [www.makezine.com/blog]

Not Martha – crafts and her life [www.notmartha.org]

Laist –life in Los Angeles (commercial) [www.laist.com]

Metro blogging LA [www.metroblogging.com] {blogging.la/}


Audio and some with video

Blogs or news delivered to iPod or computer & other players

Can be talk-Radio like


Emil groups

Yahoo groups

Show my groups

Always learning

Google groups

Private groups


Useful sites

Puzzle a day site

Make site/ rocket launcher/ magazine

Craftster.org - example of community online, tutorials


Alfie Kohn

Young kid sites

Games for Brains

How stuff works



Time Magazine for Kids

Advance search on Google

Define Google vs. other search sites

Look at other search sites


Trust your children

Experience the world with them

Undue worldly pressure is no greater than anywhere but controllable in your home.

The web is a vast ocean of information to be surfed. A broad based step to understanding and maybe, with passion and interest, wisdom.



Video Games


Who I am- Dan Vilter

A Homeschooling Parent

Entertainment Professional

Techno geek- with lots of computers

What this session is about

The heart of Video Games

A look at possible thoughts and processes during play

Confronting fears  about video games

A look at a few games

What this session is NOT about

A search for “safe” games

Determining how much time “on the computer” is healthy

Video Games are Games

Strategy and role playing games have been apart of our societies since we’ve had societies




Video games are the games of the current media

Computer is an interactive medium

People play –

no civilization without it

with a high level of emotion and fantasy

Playing Catch-becoming sports hero

involves high levels of stimulation

We learn by doing–rat & human studies

Progression of media

Great great grand parents–Newspapers

Great grand parents–Radio

Parents and grand parents–TV

Today computers are second nature

Natural experience

Kids use and understanding–nonreaders use

Communication medium

Environmental bias against it

Biased towards what you grow up with

Reading or even TV is much more acceptable

“he is just a zombie in front of it”

Parents are unsettled by kids becoming excited about the unknown

“Homing” instinct catches moving objects-TV in Bar

It has become increasingly more transparent

We have moved from the mechanics towards a more natural experience

Hunt the Wampus vs. Kung Fu Superstar-iToy:Play technology–uses a camera to capture movement that controls the game

Terminal line commands vs. immersive PS II, Nintendo, or  Xbox


It is just so darn Flexible

Can react to choice that a player makes

Ability to adjust

Users set up the kind of game they want

Programming learns a players style

It can change at any moment like an ever changing Chess board that takes advantage of the players situation.

Concept of Levels and redoing what has just been mastered

Is planned to be replayed

Matthew’s first 360 Game finished in one day “It’s very replayable”

Black and White -Playing as good guy then as the baddest guy and understanding the differences.-developing the understanding of the gray world.

Becoming a better play because of it
Seeing the other guys point of view


It is a social activity on multiple levels (not necessarily  face to face)

Players can play with 1,000 of others, the same game MMG

Small groups, same game, Gaming parties

Small groups, same game, through the internet

Individual play of the same game as peers

Players have the social reference of the gaming experience

Interaction during play. A group dynamic.

Communication during play

Part of a social network


What Users do while playing

Simultaneous thinking during game play (borrowed from “Your Brain on Video Games” by  Steven Johnson [Discover 9/05])


To control the movements and actions of your on-screen character, you must memorize several dozen distinct button combinations on a video console handset or a PC keyboard.

That’s a far cry from the simple jump-or-shoot interfaces of primitive arcade-style games.


As the game progresses, you take in a shifting landscape of information about the virtual world, such as the sudden appearance of enemies, visual cues that suggest the existence of a puzzle to be solved, and overlaid interface elements that track your character’s health.


Most games involve exploring vast worlds as you struggle to learn the rules. You must remember all the twists and turns you’ve made, or you’ll get hopelessly lost.


Playing complex games involves juggling multiple objectives, choosing what to prioritize and what to defer. The goals affect decision making on other conceptual levels: which buttons to press, how you interact with other characters, and which areas you choose to explore.


Regime of competence

Simple tasks build in complexity –dependent on the aptitude of the player


New studies suggest that video games build rather than diminish cognitive skills

Tetris Players and Cerebral glucose levels in PET scans

Novice players struggling to comprehend the game – high glucose consumption

Month later after performance increase by a factor of 7 showed a decrease in consumption in much the same way a fit body uses less energy to get more work done than an unfit body

They push you to the edge of your abilities where you thrive. Not frustrated, not bored. On the edge.

The Tetris blocks speed up as you get better at manipulating them




Hand/eye coordination Yes, but it’s not the point in gaming

It is not even a factor in the most popular series of “Sims” games where the player is juggling the activities of many characters

But then again…

Laparoscopic surgeons who played games for more than three hours a week made 37 percent fewer errors than their non-gaming peers

Visual perceptions tests of deaf subjects

A lab assistant who was an avid Video gamer scored off the charts

On dull test like find the color of the letter, how many objects.


In a study of White collar professionals, [John C Beck & Mitchell Wade: Got Game How the Gamer Generation Is Reshaping Business Forever] 3 groups: frequent, occasional and non-gamers:

The gaming population turned out to be consistently more social, more confident, and more comfortable solving problems creatively.

They also showed no evidence of reduced attention spans compared with non-gamers.

They also showed an increased appetite for risk & unexpected leadership skills

In Games performance matters: they teach:

The star’s role is to succeed
To be an expert
Failure is not the end of the world
Everything is possible
Trial and error is almost always best
Practice makes perfect
You can bond with those who share your experience- not necessarily your national or cultural background



Problem solving






Complex relations

Active critical review




Deductive reasoning

Logical evaluation





Violent Play

The majority of video games on the best-seller list contain no more bloodshed than a game of Risk.

We are a violent species

It has always permeated our societies

Homosapians have made war since the beginning. The latest theories speculate that the Neanderthals were driven to extinction by homosapians (us)

We would be the dominate species of the planet today without violence.

Gaming is a way we neutralize it.

There is a difference between Aggressive play and aggressive behavior

Without distinction the value of play is lost

UT study found no correlation subject matter and level of aggressiveness

Truth about VG Article

Slides of Dept of Justice Statistics

Losing generated aggression

There is no REAL aggression in video games

Only digital enemies and victims

Real violence and something else

Grand Theft Auto stepped over a perceived line for many people when Cartoonish Animation Became realistic 3D animation

News footage vs representations

Almost all entertainment use elements of conflict and resolution to spin compelling storytelling experiences

Shakespearian tragedies


The three stooges- + Newer Reference

Bugs and Elmer


USC researchers [Peter Vorderer and René Weber] were  looking at brain activity using an MRI during play of violent video games Found them so entranced by the gaming that looked beyond the noise, confined space and discomfort that drove virtually all other subjects out of the machine.

Many studies show that VG playing triggers a release of the neurotransmitter dopamine

Dopamine plays a key role in exploration and reward

[Gregory Berns, a neuroscientist at Emory University School of Medicine]“The game world is teeming with objects that deliver clearly articulated rewards: more life, access to new levels, new equipment, new spells. Most of the crucial work in game interface design revolves around keeping players notified of potential rewards available to them and how much those rewards are needed.”

Dopamine is also involved in the addictiveness of drugs. “The thing to remember about dopamine is that it’s not at all the same thing as pleasure”

“Dopamine is not the reward; it’s what lets you go out and explore in the first place. Without dopamine, you wouldn’t be able to learn properly.”

Study subjects didn’t need to get out of the machine because the game stimulated the mind with dopamine to learn and explore NOT BY SHORT CIRCUITING IT WITH EXTERNAL DRUGS.

Extreme cases grab the headlines and water down or eliminate the distinction.

[Dr Margaret Shotton, author of Computer Addiction? {coined the phrase}] says that playing video games speed up your neural pathways and that it allows knowledge to travel around quicker, thus speeding up judgments and decisions



Games to demo

The Sims 2 -Simulation

Track Mania –Racing game (Pod racer?)

Perfect Dark Zero -liner 1st person shooter

Indigo Prophecy-adventure game

WarCraft 3 –Real Time Strategy/ Multiplayer game[Computers only]

Oblivion-Role playing game

Black and White –God game


[-turn based strategy game-- Take a long time to play]


Topics to cover while switching between games

It’s an involved process that isn’t easily stopped or started.

In the 6th inning “we have to go. turn it off.”

Game play reaches into life subjects. Information questions about:

Specific WWII arms

What a Torrent is {P to P downloading protocol}

What Aloe Vera is – it was a healing herb in a game




New Gaming consoles cost $200 to $600

Last generation cost as little as $40 ($60 for a game cube)

New Computers $700 to $7,000


New Popular Titles $20 to $60 Each

Licensing fees help play for the console

Last generation cost as little as $5

Older edutainment can cost as little as $.01 +shipping Amazon/Ebay/half.com

Compare costs

Movie tickets- $10 for 2 hours of entertainment for one person with very little social interaction.


Classic Edutainment titles


Thinkin’ Things 1, 2, 3

Cosmic Osmo

Oregon Trail etc

I Spy

Spelunx and the Caves of Dr. Suedo

Living Book – Tortoise and the Hare etc

Reader Rabbit


Sim City

Sim Ant

Sim Farm

Sim Tower

Sim Town

Sim Copter




Dan Vilter - Embrace the Internet – HSC conference 2006





A search engine for kids.



Health, Science, Math and Tech animations for kids.



Just what it says – how almost anything you can think of, works.



National Gallery of Art Kids Zone



Time magazine for kids



The Harry Potter Lexicon



Games to play for free online and also to buy and download



Jigsaw puzzles online for free, also, upload your own photos and make custom puzzles.



Pencil and paper games



Tons of beautiful online games to play



Excellent resource for finding board games



Customizable memory game



Games for brains



Online city builder – looks a bit like Sim City



Online drawing toy.



Folding paper toys you can make yourself.



Play Set and Quiddler online



The MegaPenny Project

    Visualizing huge numbers can be very difficult. People regularly talk about millions of miles, billions of bytes, or trillions of dollars, yet it's still hard to grasp just how much a "billion" really is. The MegaPenny Project aims to help by taking one small everyday item, the U.S. penny, and building on that to answer the question: "What would a billion (or a trillion) pennies look like?"



The most detailed movie reviews available anywhere.

Quick and easy guides to finding the movies that you want to see.

Judgment-free content summaries, scene-by-scene details, plot summaries, artistic reviews, and more. You decide what is right for your family and loved ones.



ThinkQuest is all about students thinking and learning together. Students work in teams to create the best educational websites and compete for exciting prizes, including a trip to ThinkQuest Live, an educational extravaganza celebrating their achievements.

Sponsored by the Oracle Education Foundation, the competition offers a unique project-based learning experience to students and teachers around the world. Globally relevant subjects and diverse teams are encouraged.

The teams' websites are published for the world to see in the ThinkQuest Library. This rich online resource contains over 5,500 educational websites, created by students for students. Search the library and you'll be sure to find a site that intrigues you.