Monday, August 12, 2013

Best Reading Book (curriculum) EVER

Yeah, I'm probably a little opinionated and I really haven't tried out any other curriculum, but this has succeeded every time (4 so far).

I am not a homeschool mom. (I probably won't ever be. It's just not my style)

But my oldest child was nearly 6 before he started kindergarten (fall birthday and cut off dates, you know?)
And he was so smart (aren't all first children?) ;)
So, I decided I was going to teach him to read.

Yeah, that plan didn't work out - I had no idea what I was doing.
Nevertheless, he was totally interested in any preschool attempt I tried. And he loved books. We'd been regular library goers since he was a baby.

Then, a friend introduced this book to me:

She was moving during that school year to a new state where her daughter (same age as my son) would meet the kindergarten age requirements. So, to prepare her to join in mid-year, she needed to homeschool her the first few months so she would be at the right level mid-school-year.

I checked it out from the library, and loved it!
It was easy - no preparation (other than knowing how to read yourself!)
And he learned. 
By the time we started, he was 5 1/2 years old and he finished the summer before kindergarten.
(What's the point if he was going to learn the next year anyways?)

Well, besides me wanted to do everything, I didn't have to worry about making sure he got that important base amidst a class of who knows how many. He had that already - and he pretty much was a grade ahead the entire year. (Probably still is, but their scaling is so confusing??)

I tried it with my next daughter (who was 3 when she took those oh-so-lovely pictures of my oldest son and me 5 years ago) :)

I had trouble with consistency - We started when she was 4 and she got it,, but my twins were about 2 at the time and oh boy! But after my last baby was born when she turned 5, we found the time and she also learned that year.

And she has been far ahead of grade level also.
(It makes that first year so much easier for me - and I enjoy teaching them.)
*Her brother brought home the 'witch finger' from 1st grade they had used for following their words, so we tried it out. She wasn't wild about it. But it's a cute idea anyways.

As an added benefit - she is already a leader ("bossy", according to her siblings) and she was able to help other students in her kindergarten class (and later) as the teacher could use her as a peer helper.

{She was 5 1/2 here and at the end of the book so her fluency was great}

My twins started asking earlier to learn to read, so a few days before their 4th birthday, we started. I decided I would start the first couple lessons together since they are so simple and one wouldn't give away the 'answers' before the other had a turn and then we'd split and do separate reading lessons.

They ended up getting off schedule from each other because sometimes one wouldn't be interested (I encouraged, but I didn't push - I want them to WANT to read). 

My younger/smaller twin decided about half way through that she wanted to wait until she was older (like 6 she said), so I said okay. (She ended up starting again when she turned 5 and we just backed it up a few lessons for review.) 

The older twin finished between 4 1/2 and 5 years old. (fall of 4k year) The younger finished a few months after she turned 5. (spring of 4k year)

They are both excellent readers now like their older siblings. In fact, they are good spellers too - my younger twin (reading over my shoulder told me I spelled "ok" wrong. It's "okay".) :)

I never took a video/picture of them reading this book :( but I do have a video of the older twin reading another book about a month before we finished. She was 4 1/2 years old here.

{age 4 1/2, before finishing the reading book, transitioning to regular letters without helping symbols}

My next adventure starts this fall. My youngest child, who will be 4 in November asked all last spring "What letters starts...?", so we talked about letters a lot. And over the summer, I asked her "What rhymes with....?" and we started really easy and have been working towards understanding the concept of rhyming...because I could see it coming - and sure enough she asked me a few weeks ago, "Mommy, can you teach me how to read?"

 I'd love to!

 In case you go looking for this book at a bookstore, there is a newer cover version that looks like this:

I know she can learn intellectually, but her maturity in following directions is still developing (that's a nice way of saying she's my hardest child to manage!) So we'll see if she's mature enough for cooperating.

The book begins with simple (I thought, obvious) rhyming, so I thought having a head start on rhyming (which is what my 4 year old twins struggled with in beginning the book) would help us be ready. We shall see - and I will update!

Tips if you choose to try this book:

  • Make a plan/schedule. (For my oldest two, it was during younger sisters' afternoon nap. For my twins it was right after school drop off - even before we did morning chores.)
  • Don't try to read other "easy to read" books until you're nearly done - at least lesson 80. Most "easy to read" books are not easy to read. And not having the symbols is confusing until they're ready to drop them.
  • Remove all distractions (for us, that meant not opening the blinds during reading time - squirrels and cars passing can be so fascinating! Little sibling are worse.)

Areas I cheated in:

  • I didn't do the letter writing part with most of mine. One chose on her own to write letters she had been reading. I probably should have, but well, I just didn't.
  • I usually didn't make them read the story a second time when the stories got long - as long as they read more fluidly and understood as they read, once was enough.
  • not a cheat but a change, when the final "e" (for making vowels long, such as in "bike"), I explained the concept of that "e" being a helper to make the other letter say its name instead of how the book teaches it. Similar, but different.

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