Monday, January 24, 2011

A Role to Play.

Last week was a special day in our home. Amazon delivered our second set of BoB Books: Advancing Readers, and Explode the Code: Book 2. That means we had successfully gone through the first set of 12 Bob books, and the first Explode the Code workbook--something I was not anticipating to do so quickly.

He did it. We have a new reader in the house! How absolutely exciting!!! We thought he could do it, so we tried, and it worked. That simple. Four years of lap reading, nursery rhymes, and song singing is all it took.

I've shared this before, but I am a very "Pro-Phonics" person, and almost every resource below is phonics based. Being that it's so cold out, regardless of your educational decision, every parent (mother) out there might be interested in some busy work that just might unlock the door to reading. In our home, when it's -30 below outside, I'm lost without these "school" workbooks.

~Leap Frog Letter Factory. This video teaches each letter and each sound the letter makes. This is IMPORTANT. Distinguishing the difference between the "i" sound (like itchy) and the "e" sound (like egg) is very difficult for preschoolers to do. This is a great way to learn the sounds that make up words.
Start time: Luke got this video at age 2. He was uninterested at first, and then by three he knew all the letters and letter sounds.

~Phonics Pathways. Once letters and sounds are mastered, putting them together is the next part. This part is HARD for children, and much of it is developmental. "Blending," as it is called, is taking two sounds and putting them together to make another sound. Phonics Pathways is a dry book, and one that I used in conjunction with marker boards, chalk boards, crayons and paper, etc. Once Luke was able to take the "m" sound and add (blend) the "a" sound to make "ma," (as well as every single other combination of letters and vowels), we moved on.
Start time: Age 3, or after letter sounds are mastered.

~Comprehensive Curriculum. These books are just fun, especially to fight winter boredom. Kids love them. They teach (quickly and NOT in depth) simple concepts for children. They are an introduction only! Colors, shapes, patterns, letters, numbers, are all covered. Concepts like right to left, top to bottom, above and below, ordinal numbers and sequencing are also introduced. They are consumable books, meaning one per child (not reusable). We have gone through the preschool book and are halfway through the kindergarten book.
Start time: In my opinion, these books are not entirely on grade level, and age 3 would probably be fine for most children to start the preschool book.

~Explode the Code. Workbooks in black and white. These are tricky for a new blender, because they are actual three letter words and phrases. Once a child gets the hang of them, they go pretty quickly. Another consumable book, which in this case is great for mom and dad to put gold stars on worksheets well done :-)
Start time: Variable. Children need to be able to hold a pencil and write letters. Alternatively, if a child is able to blend three letter words (c-a-t), a parent could could write while the child dictates.

~Bob Books. Short, small books that early readers can read and master. WONDERFUL! Kids find the stories funny and entertaining.
Start time: Once three letter words are able to be blended. I bought Bob books prematurely, and we tried over and over again to read the first one. Luke couldn't do it even though he could blend single words. I put them away and just tried again about once a month until they clicked. Once he got the first book, within a month or two he had mastered all 12 Bob books, which increase in difficulty. We are now zooming through the second set.

This is where we're at right now, and I'm excited to start the process over again in the next few months with our little guy. Teaching children is a very rewarding experience for both parent and child, regardless of the ultimate choice of how they end up educated. I will stress that I am a "no pressure" parent when it comes to the early years, and after hearing much advice to that extent, I am convinced that development is variable and each child will take a different lead. My role to play is to follow that lead. For example, while Luke knew every dinosaur in the book (he would tell people about "nocturnal herbivores with frills on their vertebrae") but he couldn't identify ANY numbers with the exception of his age. Sure enough, this fall his attention shifted naturally to numbers, and I've happily complied :-) .

An exhaustive post, but one I've wanted to share once I knew what resources worked for us. Most of my readers have little ones at home and and many are stuck inside with the weather. I hope that I've been an encouragement on how capable parents are to teach and prepare their child for their educational paths ahead.

Happy Monday!
*Edit* I switched the link on the Comprehensive Curriculum book to the Amazon store that sells it with free shipping. Enjoy!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the resources, Mallory. I am so NOT doing enough to get Jonathan reading. He is not even recognizing all his letters yet, nor writing his full name. I feel like I am failing him! Are you planning on homeschooling? And are you "holding" Luke back until he is 6 to start kindergarten? We are in the debate right now. Jonathan is in a 2 day per week morning preschool at the Brainerd ECFE center. I don't know for sure what we will do this fall but I think mostly likely, because of his June birthday like Luke's, we will not put him in kindergarten this September.

So that said, I NEED to be doing more with him. I think I am going to start some homeschooling this spring even though we will put him in preschool again this fall. I have been wondering where to start, how to start and what I should do first to find the resources to start teaching him. Any more advice you can offer on this would be most appreciated! How do you find time to do this with a younger sibling in the house? I sometimes feel that between meals, diapers, laundry, etc., I barely have time to just PLAY with them, nevermind actually teach them. But you are a great inspiration and I hope somehow I can get my act together and find the time to do this too.


Mallory said...

Lorrene! To start off, I hope that I don't make you feel pressured WHATSOEVER. I know Jonathan to be a highly precocious and inquisitive little boy and I have no doubt that he will pick up on reading and other subjects VERY quickly, even if you wait to have an actual school teacher teach him. I would be devastated if a devoted parent felt like they weren't doing "enough" when they absolutely are!!

To answer your question, we haven't made the final call on the method of schooling, but we most definitely won't call Luke in kindergarten until he is six. Too much of a wiggle worm. Enough said! Can you relate ;-) .

I think that both of your kids would really like the Letter Factory video, and the key is repetition, so that they actually learn and retain the information. A book like the Preschool Comprehensive Curriculum would probably be fun for Jonathan, too. For some reason it isn't being stocked at Amazon right now, but do an online search for it, or I know they sell them at Costco.

As far as time, I am RIGHT where you're at. I'm super busy and am ALWAYS tired. The resources I posted seem like a lot, but this has been a slow process that I've done over the last two years. We do about ten to fifteen minutes a day, if that. If we miss a day, no big deal. If I can keep Paul occupied with me in the kitchen "cooking" I can usually keep Luke busy at the table with a few a worksheets. I just try to squeeze it in wherever.

Don't hesitate to FB if you have any more questions. And for what it's worth, I think you're an incredible mother with intelligent kids! My degree from college was early childhood education with a reading specialty, so this is one area where I get a little, eh...passionate :-) . Thanks, Lorrene, and I'll post more things that have been helpful for us when I think of them!

Anonymous said...

Thanks again, Mallory, for the words of encouragement. I did not know your background was early childhood education, so maybe that explains why you are a little more "up" on the whole teaching thing. I guess I get a little worried when I hear of other kids reading at age 4 and 5 and just don't want to put my kids at a disadvantage in school because I didn't think to start teaching them more myself. I really do appreciate the resource ideas; I quickly went to my Amazon account and put them in my cart, but haven't purchased them yet. It is nice to find out what has worked well for others, rather than just pulling something off the shelf randomly. I know I can fit in a 10-15 minute session per day and once I have a few of these books, that is my goal. You really have inspired me to do more, and for that I am really thankful!!! Here's wishing you lots of fun time with your new reader!


Mallory said...

Thanks, Lorrene. I just wanted to add that I really think that learning to read is a lot like potty training. You can start when they're too little and it takes three years, or you can wait until they're three and take it takes a month. Reading is a lot like that. You can be like me and make it a long process that takes two or more years, or you can give them all the tools of preparation and they'll be reading at school within a few months. I think the more important thing to remember is to continue to immerse children in language through lap reading, nursery rhymes and kids songs. Being that I first met you at the library and that you have your own book club ;-) , I have a hunch your kids are/will be book lovers.

Sarah said...

Congratulations to Luke!! Such a wonderful accomplishment :) This calls for a party . . . wish we lived closer so we could have one!