Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Reading Lessons

Charlie and I sit together on the sofa, close, close. The way we always sit. Charlie likes close. His little head is bent over the paper I am writing on.

"What's this, Charlie?" I draw m on the paper.

"mmmm for Mama!" He grins up at me.

"What's this one?" f

Charlie puts the palms of his chubby hands together and wiggles them back and forth through imaginary waves. "fffff for fishy!"

"And this one?" s

"ssss for sword!" I duck out of the way as he brandishes an imaginary weapon.

Now there are five. Five kids in school. This is how we start, with a piece of paper and a pencil, lowercase letters and letter sounds. (Uppercase letters and letter names will come in a few years when Charlie learns how to write. ) It takes a couple of minutes each day and in a few months my last child will know his letters. When we pull into Wal-Mart, he will start yelling, "There's a wuh for water! There's a tuh for tickle!"

After letter sounds comes combinations like ea, ai, th... for a very long time. This is not so exciting as learning letters. I've never found anything that I love for teaching the very beginning of reading. A different phonics program for every kid. Teach Your Child to Read in a Hundred Easy Lessons. Sing, Spell, Read and Write. Reading Made Easy. Phonics is boring, necessary, but boring.

And then, after we have slaved over phonics and Charlie can read The p-i-g t-oo-k uh b-a-th, we will move on to my favorite readers, Pathway Readers, an Amish reading series.

After Charlie hopped down this morning Claire came and sat next to me but not quite as close as Charlie. She opened her second grade reader, More Busy Times, and began to read about Peter and the measles. Faith looked up from her math book, "I remember that story. Peter wants to go to the zoo but he can't because Rachel has the measles and it wouldn't be fair to leave her at home." She comes and leans over the back of the sofa to listen while Claire and I read pages in turns. An old friend.

I love these books. That is saying something because I have listened to four children sound out, P-e-t-er s-a-i-d, ("Said.") Y-e-s R-a-ch-el. You c-a-n r-i-d ("No, that's ride. The e jumps over the d to make the i say i." ) r-ide...

The stories are interesting. They are about family and kindness and all of the values we want our children to claim as their own. The black and white line drawings complement the story but do not compete for my young reader's attention.

The first couple books in our set of readers have all of the b's marked in blue. b's and d's are hard to tell apart. There are marks where letter combinations have been underlined and then erased. I had to cut "word windows" out for a couple of kids who couldn't keep their place. This is a narrow strip of card stock with a small rectangular hole in it, just big enough to read one word at a time. In time, all of these crutches fall by the wayside. In time, much time, my readers stop sounding out every letter and read whole words. Andthentheyreadeverythingasfastastheycanwithoutregardforpunctuation.

Pathway Readers go through the eighth grade but we only own the first through third grade readers. My kids graduate to Henry Huggins, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, Stories from Grandma's Attic...They read in the car, in the bathroom, in their beds late at night and early in the morning.
So today, Charlie says, "It's t for tickle" as he reaches over and tickles my arm but in a few years he is going to join the chorus that the other children sing:

"Can we go to the library today? I finished my last book and I haven't got a thing to read!"


ValleyGirl said...

What a great testament to your perseverance!! I'm not quite brave enough to tackle homeschooling (nor have I developed enough self-discipline yet!), but I love how you then have complete control over what they learn and you can change the teaching style, as necessary, to accomodate how they learn.

Xandra said...

And what a beautiful sound to hear! We need more parents to encourage a love of reading instead of a love of video games and television.

Stephanie (Ocean Mommy) said...

I'm going to check out these readers. Emma is just about ready for them.

lori said...

Is is one of the most memorable joys on this journey for me...teaching Hayden to read...it was miraculous to watch!

it IS in the details...

Mary@notbefore7 said...

We have the 100 easy lessons book to begin soon. I can't wait to watch the reading develop, but I am a bit nervous about being the "teacher" of reading. (Give me algebra anyday!)

I'll have to look into the book series - sounds great.

Alana said...

I'm so thankful that my boys love to be read to. Richie is not readingasfastashecanwithoutregardtopunctuation yet, but soon! I can't wait! One of my favorite outings with them is the library!

Etta said...

I really do admire the patience of a homeschooling mom. I have been working on writing letters with Jamie and it is FRUSTRATING. And I am a teacher by vocation! Why is it that I have so much more patience teaching other people's children to read and write? And Jamie is SO strong-willed, he wants to do it his own way, regardless of how I try to convince him that it will be easier if he does it my way. He is also a lot like his daddy--if he can't get it right the first time, he doesn't want to try. No practice makes perfect for this kid!
Sorry, didn't mean to vent on you. I really do admire you for this though.

Jennifer said...

Jack is also learning to read. I've never done that alone before,but it has been fun and he's moving swiftly along, reading signs and t-shirts from time to time. We did "Teach Your Child to Read..." last year (or about half of it, anyway!) for k-4. This year it's the "Ordinary Parents' Guide to Reading," and the Bob books. He is so proud. I am prouder.
Everything you wrote about here is so familiar to me at this stage. It's pretty fun, and not as scary as I thought...!

Jennifer said...

Oh, and I have to add this...
1. We love Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, too!
and 2. Courtney has now graduated to Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte. Can you believe it??? She loved Jane Eyre, couldn't put it down...
Oh,I wish I had more time to do my own reading these days! Love it.

The Small Scribbler said...


I think I need to graduate to Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte!


Christine said...

Sounds like we have similar tastes in curricula. I love your way of presenting it all!