Stepping foot onto my very first vendor hall visit at my very first homeschool convention, I toted child #3 in my belly and a little fear of failure in my heart as my oldest entered kindergarten in the fall with me as his teacher.
Kindergarten didn't really scare me so much. I'd done that before with dozens of kids at varieties of levels. Instead, I was already worrying about high school graduation. Would my child know how to read well? How to write an educated essay? Fill out an application? Impress anyone outside of his family? What made me think I could really homeschool a child from the beginning? I knew virtually nothing about homeschooling.
So, I started where lots of well-meaning, but insecure homeschool parents start, with a boxed curriculum. As a chronic money-saver, I couldn't actually buy the whole set, but I did buy first and second grade reading and math and a smattering of other books. It turns out it was a decent place to start.
Having successfully taught five of my six kids to read, our methods have morphed a bit, and I wanted to share the plan of attack I will again use in hopes of having a perfect record, six for six, as my youngest approaches school age.
One little household complication . . .
Learning to read was a lot of work for my first few kids. Yes, we made a game out of it and we read constantly and I didn't stress too much since the homeschool conventions said, "Better late than early."
However, my over-commitment to tweak in any way needed for them to learn (and repeat as often as necessary, and love on and have fun with my kids in the process) and their brilliant minds in other areas masked something I had easily helped spot red flags on in other kids -- dyselxia.
In fact, It wasn't until less than two year ago (with my oldest starting high school) that I went to a seminar and put all the mental pieces together. I finally knew why reading, writing, and spelling had been such a struggle for all those years! By God's grace, He led me where I didn't even know I needed to go. He taught me so I could teach them. He guided my steps, my choices, my purchases so they could learn in spite of this learning difference that was hard-wired into them.
All that to say, these tools will likely work in many different homes, and quite possibly with greater ease and less repetition than required in ours. They worked not because they were the perfect tools, but because we were committed to making it work.
I see so many hints of God's hand on the process now that I understand more of why certain things work and don't work for the dyslexic learner. Now I see more clearly, but all I needed then was something to get started with and a lot of faith and perseverance.
The materials we use:
- Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
- A Beka readers for Grade 1 (and 2) especially the Handbook for Reading
- Games for Reading
- All About Spelling (for spelling, but also for its phonics reinforcement)
- Every printed thing in the world - signs, cereal boxes, the newspaper, library books, bedtime stories, etc.
The how . . .
As soon as my child has any interest in learning to read we pull out the Teach Your Child to Read book and spend 15 minutes a day going through the lessons together. We're on our third copy as we have already worn through two of them. They seem to last for about 2 1/2 children in our house.
Each lesson is scripted and helps in learning the focused sounds of each letter. They are visual, auditory, and kinesthetic all rolled into one. Not flashy, but always something to look at. A quiet one-on-one time on the couch snuggle for us.
As we did these I found that for most of my kids the writing at the end of each lesson was really laborious and I ended up skipping it. It isn't much, and I realize now that was the dyslexia talking. For typical kids writing is great reinforcement. For dyslexics writing is often a brand new form of torture and will only cement their knowledge of how much they hate to write.
One other adjustment I needed to make was that we always reached a point, usually a month or month and a half in when they were forgetting some of the letter sounds. So, we had to review every sound everyday. And, we often did the same lesson 2 days in a row to help them remember. Again, this fits quite naturally with typical dyslexic struggles, I just didn't know that at the time.
After they were reading simple words and knew many of their sounds we added a second component to their reading lessons -- A Beka readers. They would read a couple pages each day to start and it helped add some variety to their reading time.
After we finished the 100 Easy Lessons we spent more time in the readers and would look at the corresponding lesson pages in Handbook for Reading. That book in itself is a great tool in learning to read.
The Games for Reading book has lots of great ideas for making learning to read more active from painting letters in chocolate pudding on the kitchen table to jumping around on letter sounds as they are called out.
One other source for different learning games that are especially helpful for kids struggling to read I found in the Barton video for tutor screening. It gives some examples of activities you can use to help kids put together and pull apart sounds. Of course, her whole course is geared toward helping kids learning to read, but even just this video can give you some ideas about word attack and dissecting skills. Just be sure not to make it as dry as her videos are. :)
The finishing step -- All About Spelling. This was our most recent addition to our phonics program, and is based on Orton Gillingham research that is a method proven to work for kids with dyslexia (and it's fantastic for kids that aren't as well -- I've used this program with many kids and can't rave enough about it!)
All About Spelling picks up where the readers leave off. We begin with level 1 as time allows and they gradually move up about one and a half to two levels each school year. This is a very interactive and methodical teaching method that makes sure they remember what they have learned and put it into practice. This 7 level course and lots of good real books finishes off our reading program.
So, while dyslexia has tweaked how and what we use, it hasn't been too firm of a hand in the process. My kids can all read well, and most beyond level despite the hard work to get there.
Hope this is helpful in creating your own reading pathway for your homeschool.
This post is part of the Virtual Currirulum Fair
Check out what a number of other bloggers have to share about the language end of their curriculum:
Nurturing Novelists = Building Strong Writers by Susan Anadale @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
Building Blocks of Education--Learning to Read by Kristi Kerr @ The Potter's Hand Academy
Finding Our Way Through Language Arts by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool
How Does a Unit Study Teach Language Arts? by Nicole @ Schooling in the Sun
Our Language Arts Adventure by Linda @ Homeschooling6
2013 Virtual Curriculum Fair-Playing with Words: The Language Arts by Leah Courtney @ As We Walk Along the Road
Virtual Curriculum Fair-Playing with Words by Karyn @ Teach Beside Me
Virtual Curriculum Fair ~ Language Arts by Dawn @ Guiding Light Homeschool
Writing Help in a Critical Thinking book? by Missouri Mama @ Ozark Ramblings
Virtual Curriculum Fair: Foreign Language Immersion in the Homeschool by Tonia @ The Sunny Patch
Formula for Reading by Erin @ Delighting in His Richness
Words and Learning by Annette @ A Net In Time
A Custom Designed High School English Credit by Tech Wife @ A Playground of Words
Virtual Curriculum Fair 2013: Still Loving Language Arts by Pam @ Everyday Snapshots
Word Play by Lisa @ Golden Grasses
Loving Language Arts by Kristen H. @ Sunrise to Sunset
Learning Language Arts ~ 2012-2013 School Year by Laura O in AK @ Day by Day in Our WorldVirtual Curriculum Fair - The Language Arts Department by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory
Playing with Words: The Language Arts by Christa Darr @ Fairfield Corner Academy: The Story of Our Life
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What Language Arts looks like in our house - Are we doing it right? by Hillary M @ Our Homeschool Studio
Getting lost and finding our way in Language Arts by Piwi Mum @ Learning and growing the Piwi Way