- Read the introduction. Sure, it’s long (and sounds just a little conceited at times), but the last thing you want to do is jump in and then have to figure it out with your child looking on. You have to be confident so they will be, too.
- Make a chart. I had no idea this would be such a big deal to Aaron, but it has been. It validates his hard work and provides a way for him to visually see his progress and show it off when Mike comes home. (And as a side benefit: he has learned all of his numbers through 100. That was not my intention; it just happened as he studied his chart.) As you can see, this is a VERY elaborate chart and took me all of three minutes to make. 🙂
- Sound blending. This is one of the very first things you teach. You hold out the sounds and blend them into each other (for example, mmmmmaaaaat instead of mmm aaa t. After the child says it slowly, you have them “say it fast,” and as if by magic, they’re able to say the word, which they cannot do if they chop up the sounds.) This took a great deal of practice and patience for Aaron, but it was worth it. (Some sounds can’t be held out, like “c,” for example. So if you’re reading the word “cat,” you have to say it with the next sound, like this: caaaaa, and then of course add the “t” on the end. In other words, you never separate the sounds because it makes it too hard to hear the actual word.
- Find a time of day that works well for your child. This one is so important and such a struggle for me to adhere to. If I decide it’s a good time to do it, then by golly, Aaron must think so too. Wrong. Sometimes he’s on and sometimes he’s off. It can even be the same time of day, but sometimes it just doesn’t work. Whereas if he’s not hungry or tired or grumpy, man, he just whips through the lesson like you wouldn’t believe. We used to do it in the afternoons, but recently I switched to the morning, right after he has eaten breakfast, and it has worked great. I just can’t stress this enough…if it’s not a good time of day, don’t do it.
- Don’t push it. Sometimes I just want to finish the lesson so badly, but Aaron is whining and complaining and rolling all over the floor and climbing all over the furniture and only reading two words before he has to tell me something, and I am getting frustrated and begging him to finish. Well, you know what? It’s not worth it. The whole reason to teach a 3-year-old to read is for the fun of it. A 3-year-old does not need to be able to read. He doesn’t. So don’t push it. If he doesn’t want to do it right then, just drop it. Try again later. It has to stay fun with no pressure or expectation attached.
- No shortcuts. Reading the stories a second time through really does make a difference. And so does reading the sight words the fast way.
- Divide up the lessons, if needed. When we reached about lesson 50, the stories became much longer. Plus, like I said, you’re supposed to read the story twice. This was much too long for Aaron’s attention span, so we cut the lesson in half (sight words and first-reading-of-story one day and second-reading-of-story and writing the next day). In recent weeks, we have even started dividing it into three sections. Since we aren’t in a race to finish by a certain date, the extra time doesn’t matter. If there are any other moms out there who have used this method, I’d be interested to know what your experience was for the second half and how you handled the long stories.
These are the things that have worked for us, but it will be different for every child. Here are a few of the ways we have strayed from the method:
- Writing. At the end of every lesson, the child spends some time writing a couple of letters. Aaron has struggled a little bit with this, and so I usually only have him write one letter (as opposed to two), and I’m not very picky with how the letters look. If he makes the effort, then that’s enough for me.
- Reading other material. The beginning instructions essentially forbid you to let your child read anything else until he has completed all 100 lessons. In my opinion, this is ridiculous. If I want him to really love reading, then he needs to begin seeing right away how words are used in real life. It hurt a little to break the “rule” (because I am an intense rule-follower), but I point out words to him in the books I’m reading aloud. He reads a verse from the scriptures every night. He reads short little easy-readers. And we pay attention to signs and advertisements when we’re out and about.
- Letters and sounds. As I already mentioned, teaching your child letters and sounds before beginning is discouraged. But I didn’t know this, and so Aaron already knew them, and I don’t think I will do it differently with Max.
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