Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons: The Finale!

My daughter (3 years 8 months) completed Lesson 100 in Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons on Sunday evening.

We started this book a year ago.

Prior to beginning this book, my daughter knew all the letter names and sounds (including both short and long vowel sounds). This happened through the use of 2 Leapfrog products: 1)Leapfrog Fridge Phonics (a singing magnet set) and 2)a DVD called Leapfrog Letter Factory. She got the Fridge Phonics set for her first birthday.

Knowing the letter names and sounds is not a prerequisite for beginning this program. The book assumes the child has no prior knowledge of letter sounds or their names. (The book actually teaches the letter sounds prior to the letter names, sounds being more important to the skill of decoding.)

In addition to knowing letter sounds, she knew how to sound out CVC words (consonant-vowel-consonant words like cat, pig, hot, etc.). Six months before we started Teach Your Child to Read (it was shortly after her second birthday), I began reading her BOB Books in the bathtub and using bath crayons to write words from the story on the tiles on the wall. I don't love BOB Books. When I bought Set 1, I had the idea that readers like this were a necessary step in teaching my daughter how to read. Though I had been teaching full-time for a decade, my experience was with upper elementary and middle school. In lower grades, the focus is on learning to read, but in upper grades, the focus is on reading to learn. I had never taught someone to read from the very beginning. I thought the BOB Book phase lasted a while, probably because public school stretches things out that don't need stretching out (and does the reverse with things that need more time to master). BOB Books didn't work for us. My daughter wasn't interested in the stories, and wasn't engaged by the illustrations.

At the same time, I bought another Leapfrog DVD: Talking Words Factory. I also made flash cards, and reviewed them during bathtime. I'd show my daughter a word, and she would find the word on the wall and sound it out.

We skipped the first 6 lessons, and started on Lesson 7. We only worked as long as she was interested. She had a sticker chart and I gave her a sticker for every task she completed. The sticker chart had about 26 spaces I think, and it took her a week to fill a chart. This meant that she finished about two and a half lessons per week. When she filled her chart, she got to choose a small reward.

Over time, her attention span increased, and the sticker chart was replaced by a popsicle or a piece of Halloween candy. I know that rewards are not "Charlotte-Masony," I'm just relaying what we did.

At one point, her attention span increased so that she was able to do half a lesson in one sitting. I never had her do a whole lesson in one sitting because I liked her reading the same story two days in a row. I felt like it gave her time for things to sink in. So, Day 1 we did the first read, and Day 2 we read the story a second time and stopped for comprehension questions. Day 2 also included Picture Comprehension.

I also did not have her do the task that has children re-read a list of new words "the fast way." I found that with repeated exposure, she was eventually able to recognize words by sight.

I also did not do the writing letters tasks. For children who do not know letter sounds and names, and do not have the fine motor strength to write neatly, one could substitute an  activity forming letters with pattern blocks, or feeling sandpaper letters, or using a wooden or plastic letter construction kit, etc.

It's not 100 Easy Lessons. For us, it was more than 300. But it works! I highly recommend this book.

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