I am excited to be participating in this Teaching Your Child to Read series! For my part I'll be sharing with you our experience with using the book Teach Your Child to Read In 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Engelmann. We also used the Rod & Staff A-B-C series all the way through the letter I workbook.(J is available now too.)
When it comes to homeschooling I'm completely convinced that it's the right and best choice for us. I think that there are so many positive aspects of homeschooling. But when it comes to teaching, I feel under-qualified and a bit nervous. I pray for wisdom a lot! This book was perfect for me, it has been a definite confidence builder.
No Experience Necessary The part of the program that really drew me in was that you basically don't need to have any previous experience in order to teach reading and there isn't any prep necessary besides scanning through the lesson. There is a script with each lesson for what you should say and what your child's answer should be. And there is a Parent's Guide in the front that tells you how the program works and how to use it. We have taken over two years to go through the book but my daughter is finishing Kindergarten at a 2nd grade reading level. All it took was consistency and patience on my part.
The Nitty Gritty When we first started the book, I was met with quite a bit of resistance on my daughter's part. Each lesson begins with learning sounds/words and going down the lists to practice them. The lessons take only 15 minutes or less but she would quickly get tired of saying the sounds or words. I found that if I lost my patience and tried to force her to say them we wouldn't get anywhere. So I had to make sure to keep my voice light and it helped to make little jokes. In her most bored and uncooperative voice she would make one of the sounds and I would do it in return in a funny voice. Sometimes it would take us a few minutes to get started but she would normally perk up and then put some effort into it. My recommendation is to stick with it but don't be afraid to only do the lessons once or twice a week.
Sample Lesson Here's a portion of one of the lessons to give you an idea of what it will look like. The part you are to say is written in red with instructions in parentheses and your child's response is in regular black text with quotations.
Task 1 Sounds Introduction 1. (Point to m.) I'm going to touch under this sound and say the sound. (Touch first ball of arrow. Move quickly to the second ball. Hold two seconds.) mmmmmm. (Release point.) 2. Your turn to say the sound when I touch under it.(Touch first ball.) Get ready. (Move quickly to the second ball. Hold.) "mmmmm" *There are tips in boxes, the tip here says:
To Correct child saying a wrong sound or not responding:) The sound is mmmmmm. (Repeat Step 2.) 3. (Touch first ball.) Again. Get ready. (Move quickly to second ball. Hold.) "mmmmmm." (Repeat three more times.) The lesson continues with
Task 2 Say It Fast - You say a word slowly and they say it quickly.
Task 3 Say The Sounds - You say a word slowly and then your child says it with you.
Task 4 Sounds Review - Go over sounds learned at beginning of lesson.
Task 5 Say It Fast - Play Say It Fast again.
Task 6 Sounds Writing - Learning to write the letter that makes the sound you learned.
And that's it for Lesson 1. It's incredibly simple and effective. All you have to do is... do it.
Who is it For? The book says it is appropriate for -Preschool children (bright three-and-a-half-year-olds, average four and five-year-olds). -Children who have been in school but have not been taught to read
. The program is NOT recommended for "poor readers" who have been taught how to read but who make frequent mistakes.
Cost The cost was a major draw as well. We got our new copy for around $12 and can use it for our other children as well.
Materials Needed -The book and some paper. And maybe not even any paper... At the end of each lesson there is a "Sounds Writing" task. The person who recommended the book to us doesn't do this part and after trying it a few times, we dropped it as well. With the use of the Rod & Staff workbooks I felt that we were getting sufficient teaching in how to write the letters and the sounds they make without adding extra work. If you decide to do the Sounds Writing, you can find free printables at the Donna Young website. Or you can even make your own lines on paper for your child to practice on.
A Little Info About the Program The program in the book is an adaptation of the Distar (Direct Instruction System for Teaching Arithmetic and Reading) Fast Cycle Reading Program. It's programs are more effective than other programs because they control more of the details that are important to successful teaching. Also it has an effective sequence for teaching reading: (from the book) 1. The beginning exercises are simple and do not resemble later exercises. (just as beginning piano exercises do not look much like advanced ones). 2. The program provides teaching for every single skill that the child is expected to use when performing even the simplest reading exercises. 3. The exercises change slowly, and the changes are relatively small, so that the exercises are always relatively easy for the child. 4. At every step, the program provides for very clear and unambiguous communications with the child.
What Now? We follow the Charlotte Mason method for homeschooling and she discourages reading books she describes as "twaddle". That means books that don't challenge your child. Instead you want inspiring tales, well told. So we are going to start using 2nd Grade Pathway Readers and I'll be encouraging my daughter to start reading aloud parts of the books we will read for Year 1 of Ambleside Online and we will begin penmanship/copywork.
All in all, I am amazed at how fluently she can now read and sound out or figure out new words. I am seeing so much fruit from our Kindergarten year, especially in this area. We struggled all year to establish a good routine, set up an ideal workspace for school and for me to be consistent in our schooling but it has paid off and I am so thankful for God's provision in our schooling!
About the author: Katrina blogs over at www.thechickenwire.blogspot.