Saturday, September 22, 2012

What I Love About, and How I've Used: "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons"

School has begun again. I am renewed and excited for the year ahead. My littlest one is big enough to start preschool now, I was so excited to be able to take out, once again, one of my favorite learning tools of all time Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.
It is a dear old friend, with its worn pages colored on with crayons, taped cover and tea stains.. It has helped me teach my three oldest to read and now we begin again on this journey with my youngest who is eager to be a big boy and loves the one on one time.
 I want to share about the book, how I have used it, and how it has worked for us.
When a friend recommended this book and gave it to me about 6 1/2 years ago, I have to admit my initial excitement died away when I opened it. I was overwhelmed by what seemed to be complex directions inside. So it went on the shelf while I searched for something else. Another friend recommended it and I heard about how So and So, who taught her kids to read...I eventually picked it up and actually read the introduction. It helped me understand that simplicity is the goal for the lessons and what seemed difficult was actually very simple.  So reluctantly, but hopeful I gave it a try.

              When you open up to lesson one you will see that there are red and black letters.  The red is intended to be your words speaking to your child, directions for them to follow throughout the lesson. I my opinion it feels natural and quite comfortable to read them to my child and wait for their response, which should be something like what is written in the black letters. Most of the time the lessons hum along smoothly lasting 10 - 15 minutes. The book begins by teaching letter sounds(completely ignoring names) and using little games like "say it fast", where you say a word vveerrry ssllloowwly. The child then is to repeat the word back to you quickly. And "say it slow", where you say the word slowly again and the child then repeats back as slow as he can focusing on pronouncing each sound and the way they blend together. Each lesson ends with "sounds writing" where the child is given a few letters to copy at first and works up to more each time. The book advances quickly continuously building upon the previous lesson where they begin blending in lesson 3. The first little "story" they read is in lesson 13 consisting of 3 words. Ending with Lesson 100 which is at a 2nd grade reading level, which I will have to admit we have never gotten to (more to come on why).
This is a picture of lesson 16's story at the end of the lesson. All of my kids have spent time coloring pictures at the end of a lesson. My kids have all eagerly started, being excited, and wanting to read.
There has been times however, with all of them, when it seems like they're not getting it or not into it.
With my first, I pushed her on and it really made things worse, she was the only one that would fight with me, sometimes to tears, to finish a lesson.
But, I also want to note that now she, out of the three, loves reading the most and will read for hours at a time on a regular basis. So it worked itself out and the hard work has payed off.

I learned though with the next two, that the pushing was not necessary. With them when the going got rough, I would take those times to take a day off and back up about 5 lessons, sometimes more if it was necessary.  I gave them the breather to review what they had already learned, giving them the confidence to move ahead, and it always worked.  Two steps forward 1 step back we continued through easily until we reached around Lesson 50.

Once we got half way through, around Lesson 50, with all of them, there came a time when I felt it was necessary to begin reading easy readers. It gives them a great foundation to have confidence to read in easy reader book with understanding. I think its necessary to take the break here in their learning to gain the familiarity with regular sight words and regular books. So from there we read mostly beginner readers, increasing with difficulty and going back to simple ones to, once in a  while going back to 100 Easy Lessons to supplement their reading further. 
At the end of each lesson I would have them do the writing the book suggested plus some actual words in the lesson, as they advanced so did the amount of writing that was required by me. I felt the book didn't have them write enough. But this was also because it was used as my whole Language Arts Curriculum until they were fluent readers. So I had to beef up the writing. 
This is how we did it, and like I mentioned before I never actually went through every lesson with them, once we got to around 60-70, they had such a strong start with reading and were enjoying the reading so much, I didn't feel it was necessary to finish the entire 100 Lessons. If this book was called "Teach Your Child to Read in 50 Lessons" I would still use it and be super happy about the excellent foundation laid for my children's education.
My littlest is getting a slightly earlier start in Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons than the others. I plan on taking the lessons a little slower and repeating them more often. I already notice the word games in the beginning are helping him to pronounce his words more clearly. He's so happy so get that special school time with mommy like his big sisters and brother get.
 It such a joy to look back and see what we've accomplished on this homeschooling journey. Even though days are hard and long sometimes. Remembering and seeing what we have accomplished help me to look forward to what's ahead. 

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