Hello Dear Readers,
Isaac informed me about 2 months ago that he didn’t WANT to learn to read. He has better things to do with his time. OK. I’m still breathing. Laine is incredibly eager to learn to read, so I’ll just teach her.
Anyway, I had been researching curricula for teaching reading. The curriculum we use for most of our homeschooling just hasn’t wowed me with the way it teaches reading. There’s a lot of emphasis on letter sounds and helping the kids learn to write letters properly. I think both of those are important. However, I don’t think that’s going to a) excite Isaac to want to read or b) allow me to feel like we’re covering all of the bases. In my research, I’ve come across the name All About Reading a few times. Then a fellow homeschooler I’d never met told me this was THE program as we were discussing kids and reading. I came home and went to work on Google. I gave both kids the assessments to figure out where their skill levels were. Both qualified for Level 1. After giving this a long hard think, I decided to call the company. The incredibly helpful woman at All About Learning could have been in my head. First, she said 2 different things that really captured my newly-6-year-old in a way that I myself couldn’t quite put into words. It’s honestly like she’d had a few chats with him and then called me up to talk it over. It was uncanny. Then she said something about how *I* was feeling about what we’d been doing and it was all I could do to keep myself from sobbing on the phone. She touched directly on my biggest fears. These people KNOW what they are talking about. She both understood the boy in my house AND the mom who wants to do this thing right. I am in awe.
At her suggestion, I purchased the Level 1 program for Isaac and the Pre-Reading course for Laine. This has been a great choice for us. Laine’s already up to letter I in her class and is motoring right along. (For reference, she turned 4 in late March, but will pour over books for an hour at a time while she looks at pictures and tries to read the words). She’ll work through all of the capital letters and then we’ll go through all of the lowercase letters via this program. There’s an adorable little Zebra puppet (Ziggy) who works alongside Laine and she is having a great time helping him learn. She gives him a lot of encouragement and hugs. It’s utterly adorable. I feel great because I’m working at her pace and we’re mostly doing crafts and playing games. She is picking this up VERY quickly and I don’t feel like she’s getting the short end of the stick because I don’t know how to teach this. I’m no longer reluctant to try teaching reading.
Meanwhile, there’s Isaac. Level 1 teaches with a combination of phonics/phonemics (the sounds letters make) and sight words (words like “the” that you just have to recognize). He’s also playing a lot of games – some of them are even games that have him sounding out words on flash cards – and he’s really having fun with it! He’s knocking my socks off every single day because he’s not only asking me if we can do schoolwork, I’m finally watching this click for him. The focus is on getting him to read, but it’s not done in an obnoxious way and it’s done so well that we are both genuinely enjoying the time together. There are letter tiles on magnets we’ve put on a baking sheet (so we can use it at the dining room table) and we put together lots of words there and he sounds them out or spells them to ask me to sound them out. That’s also been unexpectedly fun for him.
This program is everything I’d hoped to find in a reading program. I’m thrilled with the teacher’s portion of it because it is remarkably well-organized and I am able to follow a plan. It took me about 20 minutes to set up Laine’s Pre-Reading stuff. It took about an hour to set up Level 1 for Isaac. Then I went back a week later and ordered the Reading Games with Ziggy book for Isaac and he asks for these games with the zebra puppet all day long (I know Grandma will be surprised that he wants to play a game over and over and over again!) There won’t be gaps in the kids’ learning. They’re both moving forward and having a fantastic time without me feeling like I’ll have to force them to work on their reading skills (#1 on the list of things I’m not about to do…) It’s self-paced, so Isaac has been on Level 3 for 5 days (because I’m really and truly not going to rush this). Here’s where we were today:
Tap the pan (Sentence)
Sam can nap (Sentence)
I can’t figure out how to post a video within the blog any more, so you’ll have to click on the links to watch them.
I also didn’t video me hugging him and then jumping up and down in my excitement. You’ll just have to imagine what that part looked like.
Hello Dear Readers,