I'm am far and away from being an expert, but after teaching four kids to read, I'm a firm believer that some kids just "get it" quicker than others. I also know that in our house, what worked for one didn't necessarily work well for all.
I think a firm foundation in phonics is really important, but I also don't want to turn reading lessons into drudgery. The whole idea is to inspire a LOVE of reading, and in most cases, that's a tricky balance.
When Emma entered kindergarten last year, I began researching through the loooong list of current reading programs. I was immediately drawn to All About Reading, and was really inspired by the overwhelming number of blog posts and reviews singing its praise.
I'm jumping on that bandwagon today to share a little bit about why I too love ALL ABOUT READING.
Emma attended a kinder program outside our home, so I started Level One as an after-school program with her last fall. She tired really quickly the first half of the year, so we took it super slow.
The format of this program is very easy to divide for learners like Emma who need to ease in slowly.
The main teaching is done from a magnetic white board, with little magnetic letter tiles that are moved around to build words. Right off the bat, I love this multi sensory approach to learning! She can MOVE and participate....not just sit and listen! She is building the words herself to actually see the concepts in action, without a lot of pen and pencil work to bog her down. It's brilliant!
There are phonogram cards and word cards that we keep in a little file box to introduce new concepts and review, review, review.
Lessons are scripted in the Teacher's Manual, so it is an "open-and-go" program.
Level one has three hardback readers. The stories are engaging and well illustrated.
Many of the lessons have some form of hands on activity. Here is Emma earlier this year flipping fried eggs to play a word game. These quick and easy activities are FUN, so often times we set them aside and play them a few days in a row. This is a natural confidence booster, because after playing the game repeatedly it becomes easy, and she gets so excited about how quickly she can recall the answers. (I want to mention that these games and activities are provided right in the lesson book. You tear them out, and with very minimal work, are ready to roll. Some require a few minutes of cutting, and maybe a glue stick. In this instance, I grabbed a spatula for the kitchen to make it more fun, but I'm NOT running through the house gathering a long list of supplies or spending excessive amounts of time preparing for these lessons. If you keep scissors and a glue stick with your reading supplies, you're set!)
Here she is matching mittens for a kitten. These quick and simple games keep her so engaged and make the learning fun.
Most lessons have fluency sheets for extra practice. I found that in kindergarten she just wasn't ready for long and challenging lessons, especially after a full day at school. So, we just broke it down into parts and worked slowly. We may have worked on the white board one day, reviewed our cards the next few days, read a story from the reader, repeated the story, repeated the story again, then took several days to work our way through a fluency page. By the end of kindergarten, we made it half way through Level One, which was the right pace for her at the time.
We picked at it a tiny bit over the summer, mainly just to stay familiar with the word cards and not lose any ground. Once kindergarten ended I found she was much more capable of making it through a complete lesson in a day or two.
By the start of first grade in homeschool she was ready to take off.
Reading is one of her favorite subjects during the day. She never complains about it. (Hooray!)
This week we studied compound words by matching birds on a branch.
Fun, fun, fun!
This program is clever, without being overly complicated.
Here she is "dividing" compound words with a dull butter knife. :-)
One of my favorite things about this program is how easy it is to apply the gas or the brakes. When she gets it, we sail on. When she struggles, there is plenty of review built in, and we just park for a few days until we have it and are ready to move forward again.
One day she had a story in her reader about a boy who carried his lunch in a sack on a stick. So I delivered her lunch to her like this.....so fun!
My favorite thing over-all about this program?
SHE LIKES TO READ!! And that is the whole point.
We were studying apples in science a few weeks ago, and she ran upstairs to get the book "Ten Apples Up On Top". She brought it down and read it out loud to me spontaneously. Her confidence (and ability!) grows day by day.
We are just a few short lessons away from completing Level One. I have ordered Level Two and it should be here any day.
I'll admit that teaching reading isn't my favorite thing. It's so much PRESSURE. It's such an important subject, and we have had more than our fair share of struggles in this area throughout our homeschooling years.
All About Reading is BY FAR the most pleasant and rewarding experience I have ever had with teaching reading. I LOVE THIS PROGRAM, and am anxious to see what Level Two has in store.
As I mentioned, I think reading readiness varies a lot from kid to kid. Some are more interested than others. Perhaps Emma falls on the "easy" side in this area, but I credit both her progress and her enthusiasm to a program that has been a delight for both of us.
Keep up the good work, Emma!