When I first undertook the task of teaching our oldest child to read, I was so intimidated. Teaching a child to read seemed like such a huge and daunting thing, I mean, learning to read is so life-changing, so empowering, so not something to take lightly.
I didn’t take it lightly.
While I didn’t take it lightly, I soon realized that it didn’t take any special powers, or even a special degree, to teach a person, child or otherwise, to read. I knew several homeschooling mothers, each of whom had taught their children to read, some earlier than others, some faster than others, but they had all done it. Their children were reading without ever having set foot in a school, public or private.
I knew it could be done, and I knew that I could do it.
I did do it. I’ve done it 3 times now, and am in the midst of it with another 3 children- our 7 yr old, who is learning much more slowly than the others, she was also a very late talker and a late potty trainer, but eventually she learned to string words together into full sentences and even to use the bathroom with no accidents so I’m not worried about her late reading, it’ll come; our 5 yr old, who has all of her letter names and sounds down, but hasn’t quite grasped the concept of blending yet; our 3, almost 4 yr old, who has most of her letter names down and is starting to remember some of their sounds.
We use a fairly wide variety of things in our home to teach letters and phonics. We do a lot of extra activities to reinforce things, but for this post, I’m sticking to actual curriculum choices.
Here are a few that we use-
Get Ready for the Code, Get Set for the Code, and Go for the Code, is a set (though sold individually) of consumable books that introduce all of the consonants with practice writing the letters and indentifying words that start with that sound.
Once a child has all of the consonants down pat, they are ready for working with vowels (beginning with short vowels) and blending the sounds into short words with Explode the Code 1. I’ve used this book with each of our children who have learned to read so far. I like that it’s not flashy, just black and white with line drawings (you can see a sample by clicking on the “look inside” link over the picture of the book cover on the Amazon link), and that it has plenty of built in practice and review.
The other book that I’ve used the most, in conjuntion with the Code books, is Phonics Pathways. This is a bigger non-consumable book that’s really more of a manual or handbook on teaching phonics. Phonics Pathway goes from initial consonant and short-vowel blends to three-letter words, to multi-syllabic words, with hints on teaching the entire way. There are even some “Vision and Motor Coordination Training Exercises” in the back that we have found helpful, especially with our very kinesthetic learners.
We have also used Abeka‘s K5 and 1st Grade Letters and Sounds books, in addition, for a cute and colorful page to pull out for the eager child who is chomping at the bit to “do some more school”, which a couple of them have done… Abeka is one of the biggest names in Christian homeschool curriculum, and they do put out some high quality books. Their Language Arts books are pretty rigorous and may progress faster than some students are ready for. Whenever we would hit a bit of a roadblock in a Letters and Sounds book, we would spend more time in our Code books and more time in general with extras like flash cards and simple word writing practice, to give a child time to firmly grasp things where he or she was at and only work on a new concept when ready.
There are a lot of phonics/reading programs out there, these are just the ones that we’ve tried, and they happen to be much more reasonably priced than many of the others on the market, like much more. I’ve seen several that run over $100…
Sometimes it has seemed like we’d taken 1 step forward only to take 2 steps back, and we’d start back in with more review for as long as it took. With time, and enough variety of practice, we would soon be stepping forward again, and I’m enjoying being in the midst of that process again with more emergent readers!