Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Win a Math Game. . at my friend's blog

My friend Amy reviews so many wonderful items.  She is currently reviewing and giving away Math House Games.  This  math game looks wonderful.  It is pretty easy to win.  So check out Growing Fruit and the Math House Games. 
who loves contests and loves math. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Phonics: clucking and spitting. . .?

In college my reading teacher referred to phonics as clucking and spitting.  My classmates and I  thought that was pretty funny, and having little experience with phonics we did not realize how true that was.  I have spent many years clucking and spitting since then, and I do have more experience with phonics.

There are many phonics programs and most people are very attached to whichever one taught their child(ren) to read.  I heard Cheryl Lowe from Memoria Press share that people tend to keep trying different phonics programs with their kid, and the last one they try is their favorite.  When in reality their child was ready.   There is a great deal of truth in that.  I am going to share a few suggestions and a few programs that I know of.  The list is not all encompassing, and is just a place to start.  If you have one that is working hold on to it and stay with it.    For me it has been helpful to not rush out and buy them.  Almost all of them are available at the public library.  I have borrowed them to see if they were a good fit for my family.    In my opinion a program has to work for your child and also has to be one that you are comfortable with.  The following are some suggestions.  

Alpha Phonics Primer for Beginners  

This is my current favorite program.  It is very easy to follow and is very systematic.  I love the calligraphy print they use in the book.  It is your systematic intensive phonics program.  The front of the book has what your child reads and in the back they explain each lesson. 

 Phonics Pathways : Clear Steps to Easy Reading and Perfect Spelling
I have used this one as well.  I do like this one and it was the final program that helped my daughter learn to read.  Some people find this one hard to follow. Personally, I did not.  I liked the long lists and it was helpful for my daughter from China.  Definitely look at this one at the library before purchasing. 

The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading. 
Well, I will admit that I have this one as well.  I talked to Jessie Wise (the author) at a homeschooling convention, and she told me she wrote this for parents who have little or no experience in phonics.  She shared that she likes Phonics Pathways, but wanted something easier for parents to use.  This program also incorporates sight words nicely into the program.  This is a scripted program. 

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.
I do not own this book, but know many people who like it.  Cathy Duffy has a nice review here. It is not an expensive book and has a serious following.  It is also a scripted program.

I believe magnetic letters are helpful with any of these programs.  For some children moving around the letters and building the words helps them to connect to the text.  For example, you are working on the word family "am."  Below you have the letters "h, s, r, and p."  Have the child move each letter up to "build" the word and then pronounce it.  This is especially helpful with tactile kids.

This is my short list of what is out there.  I know different curriculum programs like Memoria Press, ABEKA , The  Phonics Museum (Veritas Press) , and Sonlight have phonics incorporated into their kindergarten programs.   So there are many options.

My last thought on any phonics program you choose is to work on it consistently.  It can be painful to sit with a child to which this is not an easy task.   I would recommend taking 10-15 minutes every morning working on a phonics program with them.  When the time is up stop, and move on to something else.  I think short consistent times are better than longer inconsistent ones.

I hope this is helpful.  Next week I will talk about helping your child become a good reader.  


Thursday, September 08, 2011

Reading Thoughts and Helps

I have enjoyed all the narratives I have read this summer.  I am always impressed by all that people accomplish in a year. As I complete narratives and talk to other homeschoolers a common theme I hear is in regards to reading is. . . .  How do I know my child is at grade level?  What do I do to make sure they have good comprehension?  My child only wants to read fiction, non-fiction, comic books etc.  I am not sure if they understand what they read.  Is there a good way to approach non-fiction texts?

I am going to spend the next few weeks on reading helps.  In my opinion there is a great deal out there on phonics programs, and decoding so I will talk only  briefly about that. This series will be on comprehension, sense of story, what do good readers do, non-fiction helps, and more.  If  there is something you would like me to cover, please leave a comment.

I think that people tend to  believe that teaching  reading stops once a child leans to decode.  I believe that is far from true, and the adventure is only beginning. So, here to our fall reading adventure!


Friday, September 02, 2011

Scheduling and Time Off!

We have done school "lite" the past two weeks.  School Lite consists of math, reading, and pursuing your own interests.  We have taken field trips, planned for next year, cleaned the house, cleaned our rooms, and helped dad clean up the outside of our house.  There is something about taking time off when the rest of the world is beginning their school year that feels so fun!
We have a schedule of 6 weeks on and 1 week off throughout the year.  For us it works well.  We occasionally take longer breaks like right now and around Christmas. 
I have also completed my new daily schedule.  I am pretty excited about it.  I am trying some new things.  I am going to start with schooling my little kids first.  I tend to run out of energy otherwise.  I have independent activities for my readers.  I am also assigning some of my older ones to help my younger ones more formally.  They seem to enjoy it, and it helps out day run smoother.
I will keep you updated on how it is going. Below is a picture of my new chart.  I must say it is bringing me lots of joy!
Have a good Labor Day weekend!