1st Grade Homeschool Reading

If this post helps you, be sure to check out:

The Everyday Homeschooler’s Guide to Teaching the Early Years


Click here to see my previous post, review and photographs of Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy LessonsNo matter what reading program you use, I hope my experience shows you that it’s okay and beneficial to tweak it to meet your child’s needs. And sometimes trying something new helps too.

100 Lessons 2

At the beginning of this year, I decided to start again with Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. I had started that book when my son was a young five-year-old, and he did very well in it up to Lesson 50. You can read about that in my review of that book.

Last year, I had him practice reading with a variety of resources, which you can read about in Homeschooling Reading and Language Arts for Kindergarten / 1st Grade. He was not interested in reading, and even now, it’s not his thing. He loves to be read to, but he doesn’t volunteer to read anything on his own. I decided not to worry about this because I felt reading would “click” for him when his brain was ready for it. (And I’m so grateful we are homeschooling because of this.)

But this year he is seven, and I think it’s important to try to establish those reading skills. I know there’s a lot of debate about letting children read when they are ready, etc., but I’ve decided to take the middle road and while not pushing him beyond his level, I was going to make sure he continued to practice and hopefully progress.

This is why I wanted to use 100 Easy Lessons again. If he could do that, I knew he’d be progressing slowly with each lesson. Two years ago we stopped at Lesson 70, but I decided we’d start back at Lesson 50, which is where the book got hard for my son at that time.

He did not want to do Easy Lessons again, but I told him that I thought he would find them much easier than he did two years ago, and I was right. He was relieved, and I was very relieved! He said he didn’t like doing the lessons, but when he is reading, he seems to enjoy the silly stories, and it isn’t hard getting him to do the lessons.

This is a significant contrast from two years ago, and it confirms my suspicions – If he balks at a lesson, or stares off into space, or fidgets, or acts silly, or slumps out of his chair, then the lessons are too hard for him. If he complains but still does it without a lot of coaxing, then we’re doing just fine.

So we’ve continued to do the lessons, and he has been reading the stories very well! He is reading fairly smoothly, and I’m very proud of him.

Hitting a Snag

At about Lesson 76, my son started to do some of those things I just mentioned: balking, slumping, staring off into space. But just the day before he did fine! There was not much difference between these two lessons, so what happened?

Without much thought, I stopped the lesson and I went to speak to my husband. Later I regretted speaking to him because I thought I reacted too quickly, but it turned out to be a good thing.

I think what I wanted when I talked to my husband was for him to agree that I needed to back off on the lessons. I thought, he’s balking, and I don’t want to push him. He doesn’t like reading, and maybe I’m ruining his potential love of reading. Maybe I need a new strategy.

Well, typical of a man – my husband couldn’t just listen, he wanted to solve the problem.

He thought our son needed to just practice more, memorize words and pick out books he would be more interested in reading. I didn’t argue with that, but when they got home from the library, and I saw the books my son picked out, I panicked. They were way above his level! I thought this had the potential of really discouraging him. But I didn’t say anything because my son was excited about reading those books, and he wanted to read them with his dad.

My ego was a little hurt too, but I’m glad I kept my mouth shut.

My husband started to sit down with my son whenever he could and have him read from those books. He was very patient with my son, and he only made him read 2-3 paragraphs. Some of the words were really hard, and he didn’t make my son read those. My husband made lists of words and made my son write them each three times. (Not my son’s idea of fun, but he has done it.)

In all, those lessons with dad have not been a bad thing, and it’s exposing him to some new words.  I hope it continues to help him and not discourage him.

We also decided I would continue to do 100 Easy Lessons with my son.  I realized what my son disliked the most about this book was having to read the story twice. I already had stopped making him read the vocabulary words twice (because I forgot I was supposed to do this – I’m not reading the script verbatim.)

Without reading everything twice, the lessons go much faster, and he’s doing fine.  No balking or sulking! I’m impressed with how smoothly he’s been reading the text because it’s getting harder!

Luckily the stories in 100 Lessons got a little better right when I needed them to. At Lesson 79, they started to have Part 1 & Part 2, so you have to read the next lesson to see what happens.

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons says that once a student finishes this book, they will be at a second grade reading level. I have no doubt we will finish 100 Easy Lessons this year – we are at Lesson 92 now – so I’m happy that my son is right where he should be!

A few other notes about how I do Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons:

  • I don’t worry about doing a lesson everyday as the books suggests. We do them four days a week.
  • In the beginning it was helpful to read the script, but now that my son knows the routine, it seems silly. I skim over it to see if anything new is coming up, and then I just point to the words and let him read.
  • I don’t make him read the words or story twice.
  • I have found that it helps him if I point to the words with a pencil.
  • There is absolutely no need for us to go over the lessons on the names of the letters because my son learned that when he was two!
  • I don’t read the comprehension questions in the book anymore. Instead I ask my own questions and talk about the passage with my son. It’s much more engaging for him.
  • I don’t make my son do the handwriting practice at the end of the lesson anymore.

Basically, I have tailored this book to my son’s current needs. It works very well that way! No matter what program you are using for teaching a child to read, I would recommend following your instincts and make it work for your child’s needs.

Please share your experiences teaching reading to your children. What resources do you use?

14 thoughts on “1st Grade Homeschool Reading

  1. Sounds great, Shelli. Ila sounds similar in that reading is her least favorite “subject.” She loves books, and loves being read to, but never volunteers to read anything on her own, and gives a lot of resistance when asked to practice reading. I, too, am very glad to be homeschooling so that she can go at her own pace without feeling as though she’s getting behind other kids. I may revisit using this book after reading this post…..


    1. Thanks for the comment, Kimberly! Yes, it sounds like our kids are similar when it comes to reading! I didn’t think I would go back to this book, but it has definitely proved helpful.


  2. I’m experiencing the same resistance with my 6.5 yo son…he loves books, but is not into reading for himself. Our strategies sound similar…I don’t want to push him too much, since I want him to have positive associations with reading, but I do want to keep working on it *just a bit*. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!


    1. Thank you for your comment, Alexandra! I’m glad I’m not the only one who wants to work on it *just a bit* too! Eventually I will write a post about this, but he did finish 100 Easy Lessons, and I have seen him just ever so slightly try to read some things on his own. I think his confidence in his abilities is increasing, and if we keep at it, I’m hoping he’ll just take off one day!


  3. Do you have any suggestions for the say it fast sections? My daughter breezes through every other section and really enjoys the tasks, but as soon as I say say-it-fast she melts down and starts to cry. She repeats it slowly and I try to make a game out of it and she still hasn’t grasped on.


    1. Hi – thanks for your comment/question. I think you’re referring to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, aren’t you? If your daughter starts to melt down and cry, I would take that as a sign that she’s not ready for that part yet. I wouldn’t make her try to do it that way. Just do what she can do and finds fun. When my son was younger, I began to understand the difference between “too hard/not ready” and “I just don’t feel like it.” When it was too hard and he wasn’t ready, it was very apparent. He might cry or look out into space, or he couldn’t keep still. It was a very painful experience for both of us. I stopped using the book for a year, and when I went back to it, it was a different story. He didn’t always want to do it, but all it took was a little nudging, and he did fine. It was a hard lesson for me to learn, but trust me, nothing should cause tears. If she likes doing it slow, just do it slow. She’s going to catch on to doing it fast when she’s ready. My son is 8.5 now, and he’s just now becoming a more confident reader. I’m really glad I slowed down and took it at his pace. Good luck and don’t hesitate to write back with any other questions! 🙂


    2. For the read-it-fast sections, it really helped when I said that he could say the words LOUD if he wanted. Being allowed to be loud makes him really eager for those sections. 🙂


  4. Thanks for the wonderful information! I am homeschooling a set of twin girls who just turned 7. Like your oldest; they are very playful and can get a bit bored if a lesson seems too long or uninteresting. I love the flexibility of tailoring their academics to fit their needs and look forward to using some of your tips and ideas!! Wish me luck…it’s an adventure with twins & a toddler.


    1. Kristina, Thank you for your comment! Best of luck to you on your homeschooling journey! Just send me an e-mail, if you ever have any questions or just need to bounce off ideas with someone.


  5. I’m thrilled to have read this post! My son was having the same type of issues with the book as well. He just turned 6 currently he’s on lesson 89, he gets so frustrated when he has to read the story a second time so we just end it after the discussion of the story. But I’m glad I’m not the only one. I’m really seeing some similarities in the way we both like to have our days spread out and I look forward to reading more of your blog!


    1. Jaclyn — I’m very glad, if my post helped you. I do think it’s wise to take clues from your son and not make any lesson too frustrating, which is what you’re doing. Instructions are merely guidelines! Good luck to you, and I hope to hear from you again.


Part of the reason I keep a blog is because being a stay-at-home mom can be lonely! So please reach out with a message, if you have a question or would like to chat. I usually write back within 24 hours, but please be patient.

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