We kind of had a big event happen last week. Nathan read his first book!
We've been having a lot of fun doing more preschool stuff lately. The back to school sale aisle is always so tempting to me, and finally I felt justified in purchasing some school supplies! I also picked up a few workbooks that have really been a big hit (like, "can we do another page?!"type success), and have been doing some of Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons. We've made it to lesson 6, so far. Initially, I was very enthusiastic about it, just because it was so simple and he enjoyed it so much. The "say it fast" game really was fun for him, and I could see how it really helped him gear up for sounding out and then saying words.
But as we progressed past the first few lessons, I was troubled by a few things. The approach of having lines over vowels to indicate the long vowel sound confused him right off the bat - he knows all his letter sounds already from The Letter Factory, and so telling him that ē says 'eeee' when he gleefully shouted 'eh!' felt a little advanced for beginning reading. I talked to another mom who said that her daughter was frustrated in later lessons as those symbols began to be phased out. I really want to avoid frustration and confusion, so I started skipping the long vowel sections in each lesson. That seemed a little ridiculous, so we ended up skipping it more and more days and playing with letter puzzle pieces and sounding out words I wrote out on paper instead. I will say that the "say it fast" practice did seem to be helpful as he transitioned from making each sound individually to saying the word. I'm not sure if I'll end up doing more with it or not, at this point. I may do more of it with my next kiddo, but for now we may not need to keep on with it especially with my doubts about some of the approach.
I made some cards (I love index cards so much!) with simple words that stuck to basic vowel sounds. He loved arranging them in sentences and this week made the leap into sounding it out and then saying it independently, not just being led through it. I had SO much fun watching him gleefully master word after word, and not want to stop.
Since he was doing so well with those, I dug out Pan and the Mad Man, one of the readers from the boxed kindergarten set from Veritas Press. It's a great set but seems really involved to me, better suited for a classroom, or maybe just not suited well to me with having three little ones right now. It seems like it takes a lot of planning and prep work, which is a drawback for me right now. My mom used it for three of my brothers and handed it down, so I have the luxury of picking and choosing from it without feeling like I invested in it and have to use it all.
The other drawback is that I don't like the script it teaches, which is italicized and intended to transition better to cursive. I would prefer to have them master a solid, neat printing hand before cursive and not start out with the curved tails and slanted letters. But there are things I love about it - the readers are nicely illustrated and imaginative, the puzzle pieces with letters on them (that can be combined into words) are genius, and the CD with catchy songs about phonics rules is great. I think that I'll be dipping into the Veritas Press Phonics Museum box more and more as we get into more complicated words, since I love their emphasis on the "rules" of why words sound the way they do.
However we end up proceeding, I'm just so excited that Nathan read his very first book. It feels like a huge milestone to this bookworm mama, and I'm so thankful to be able to help him learn and watch his face light up with that feeling of accomplishment.
What methods have you tried, if you've taught your kids to read? And...any beginning reader recommendations? :)