I’ve written a lot about how I haven’t pressed too much formal learning on my five-year-old. I believe playing, fostering his imagination, and letting him acquire a love of stories and books is the most important part of Kindergarten.
I tried short, formal lessons though, and it worked for a while, but now I’ve stopped. This is partly because my two-year-old has stopped taking naps and we’re having an early, beautiful spring, but mostly because he was struggling to stayed focused, and I feared he would start to hate reading (math too). Since he’s above his grade level anyway (his birthday is late August, and he would begin Kindergarten this coming fall, if I were enrolling him in public school), I’m certainly not going to worry about letting him go at his own pace.
To give you an idea of where we’re at, he is a master at the ABCs & phonics. He can sound out many simple words, though he is often reluctant to do so. He knows several sight words. He still struggles when reading early readers, though. He is good at reading the online books at Starfall.com.
This is what I’ve done to get him this far. Click on the links to learn more:
- My five-year-old learned the ABCs very early, around 21~22 months. It was part of our everyday fun. (Don’t worry if your child didn’t learn the ABCs this fast. My two-year-old still doesn’t know them. He’s a completely different kind of learner.)
- To be honest, I don’t remember how he learned the phonics. I think he taught himself!
- We worked through Lesson 70 of Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. (That’s the longest and most formal of all the reading lessons I’ve done with him.)
- Sometimes we play the sight word game that I made up.
- He has watched Meet the Sight Words 1 from Preschool Prep Company several times. (This was a gift, and he likes it. I haven’t bought the others in the series though.) If you have an auditory/visual learner like my son, these may be worth looking into.
- I’ve sat with him and had him try to read early readers. We’ve got many books, but I especially like the We Both Read books. Since he struggles to focus, I only make him read 2~3 pages at a time.
- We used Progressive Phonics for a while, and I really like it, but we’ve gotten out of the habit. (PP is FREE!) (Thanks to For Love of Education for telling me about PP!)
- Recently I went back to Starfall.com. In the past I’ve let him play with Starfall on his own, but now I sit with him and do one line at a time (if you go to this page, you’ll see how each line is numbered.) He can do the quizzes and read the books well, and I think it’s a good review/practice for him. As we have time, I’ll keep doing this. He likes it as long as I don’t push him too hard. (SF is FREE, but they’ve added more to it that is accessible via subscription, but it’s reasonably priced. I’ve considered signing up for it, and I may in the future, since my son likes the site.)
None of this includes the exposure he gets to reading and phonics through other means, such as books I read to him, computer/iPod games, and television shows he watches. Though he hasn’t asked to play on the computer/iPod in a long time, he does love educational television shows. Right now he’s on a Super Why! kick, which has to be one of the best shows that teaches reading. Another good one in regards to sounding out and building words is Word World. He has watched that quite a bit.
As you can see, if you want a solid, how-to teach my child to read, I’m not the blogger you should read. I have tried different things because 1) I had them or I could afford them, and 2) my son liked them. I watch my son closely to see what he likes and doesn’t like, and I ask him too.
For now, this works for me, although I have great respect for those who need a curriculum plan laid out for them. I completely understand how we need that sometimes, and we each have different personalities, organizational and learning styles. As we teach our children, we have to find what works best for them and us. Otherwise, we’ll get over-anxious, frustrated, and that will not help the learning process for sure!
What are your favorite resources for beginning reading?