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I was not supposed to be the one to teach my children how to read.
My mother was.
I had never taught anyone how to read before. As a 4th and then 5th grade teacher at a private Christian school, my job was to teach reading comprehension and how to develop critical thinking skills while reading a passage.
My mother had taught me how to read by the time I was two and a half years old using SRA DISTAR by Siegfried Englemann., which my father's cousin, a New York public school teacher, had given her because her school was throwing it out. I remember the spiral bound books and games my mother would play with me using the books. Sadly, Mom passed away a couple of weeks before Addie was born, so I had to come up with a new game plan.
Right before Addie turned one, I saw a commercial for the Your Baby Can Read series. I bought it, and faithfully sat with Addie every day to watch the videos, play the games, look through the books, and review with the flash cards. Within 6 months, she did learn to recognize what each card said, but she was unable to translate her knowledge outside of the cards, videos, and books. (The series is no longer available for babies- it is available for kids, though. Instead there is now a series called Your Baby Can Discover. I personally do not have experience with this product.)
We began watching the LeapFrog: Letter Factory and in no time at all Addie began recognizing her letters and the sounds they made. By the time we began Kindergarten, she could read small words. The curriculum we were using at the time (Christian Liberty Academy Satellite Schools) had a reading program that required a lot of writing. She became frustrated and reading became a dreaded subject for us both.
Mid year, I switched her over to A Handbook for Reading, Phonics Textbook (A Beka Book Reading Program) which gave her the phonics foundation she needed. The pages had colors and fun pictures and the words were grouped in easy to read sections. But she still had no confidence in picking up a book and reading it.
Frustrated with reading and having passed my self-imposed timeline for teaching my daughter how to read, I began asking my father if he remembered which reading program my mother had used with me. After a few phone calls and emails back and forth he remembered the initials SRA. I began researching and discovered that the program my mother used for me was still around, just under a different name- Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. I ordered it and began working with Addie as soon as it came in.
The lessons are designed to be 20 minutes long- perfect for little ones who have short attention spans. Each lesson covers more than just reading. Children are taught to sound out words by "saying it slow" and then reading words by "saying it fast." They also learn the concept of rhymes and how to make up rhyming words through daily oral exercises. They are also taught how to write the letters they are learning to sound out in each given lesson. Sound blends like "th" and "ch" are visually attached to teach children how the sound works.
Lessons are taken in small steps. For example, the first two lessons only teach the sounds for "m" and "s". The type for the sounds to be read is nice and large making reading less intimidating for children. (This had been Addie's biggest issue. She would only read books that had large type in them because she was afraid of reading small type words.)
As the book progressed, I found myself splitting lessons in half. They can be a bit intense the further into the book you get. I had to remind myself that the goal was for my daughter to be able to read with confidence and understanding- not finish the book in 100 days.
One particular thing I loved about the book was that as we reached the last quarter of the book, the type gradually became smaller as the stories became longer. Addie never noticed the size change.
The evidence that she could finally read above her grade level with confidence and speed came one evening as I was preparing to review her Awana verses with her. I opened up to what I thought was a new verse, and she responded, "Oh, I already know that verse." She then began reciting it to me complete with reference. I asked how she had learned it, and her answer was, "I read it, Mom."
Recently she picked up our copy of Now We Are Six and read it in two days. I wasn't sure about her understanding of the book, but when she told me about the poems she was reading, I knew she understood. I was curious to see what the reading level for Now We Are Six was, so I researched it online. I discovered that it is at a 3.6 grade reading level.
God gave me an incredibly smart child and Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons gave her the skill and confidence to enjoy and love reading.
At this point, having enough books on hand for her is my biggest challenge.