Monday, September 19, 2011

How to Teach Your Child to Read

So, as promised, I am sharing how I taught my now six-year-old to read over a year ago and how I plan to also teach my almost four-year-old to do the same this year. It was so easy and it only took about five minutes a day.
Image Source: Graphics Hunt

For a craft-and-project-centered Mom's Night Out with my Mocha Moms (shout out!), I brought along supplies to make some very colorful, neon 3 x5 flashcards with the famous Dolch sight word list I had printed and cut out to glue to the cards. By the end of the night I was just about there and the next day, we began our learning. Using blank cards and/or rubber bands as a divider, I divided the cards into sections as follows: 

-easy, phonetic, 3-letter words** ('cat', 'run') 
-strictly learn-by-sight 3-letter words** (words that can't be sounded out, ex. 'eat')
-four-letter words** (I know, I know, but they were all clean, I promise)
-words to describe colors
-words to describe numbers
-all other words with more than four letters
-words we're working on (rubber bands)
-words she already knows cold (rubber bands)

Google Images
**I further subdivided the word types so that words that look similar or have the same letters (saw/was, eat/ate) were together as she learned them. I did this so that she could see the two words compared side-by-side as she learned them and hopefully not get them confused later on. Another way I subdivided the words types was into word families (hat/mat/rat/bat, all/ball/fall), which sometimes caused me to have to mix in a few of my 3-letter words with 4-or-more-letter words, but it made the learning easier via patterning.  

On Day One, I began with the first section, working with ONLY five cards to keep things simple, to help her focus and not be overwhelmed. I would hold up each one of the five cards, show her them and say the word on the card, only using it in a sentence (the sillier the better) the first time I read it. I read the cards to out loud to her at least two more times. Next, I held up the cards and quizzed her, having her sound them out if need be. If she had trouble with any of the words, I'd help, then move on to the next card in the set. I did this at least three times. We'd wrap up by me going over the cards once again out loud to solidify it all. I'd place this set of five in its own rubber band and into our handy index card storage box.

FYI, I never labeled the card sections, since I knew at first glance which section was which. 'Words we're working on' always went in the very front. 'Words she knows cold' always went right behind it but before all the other words we hadn't yet touched so that both sets were easily accessible.

Google Images
On Day Two, I began by reviewing what we'd learned the day before, only I'd quiz her first to see what she remembered. Next, I went over the cards out loud three times, then quizzed her again. I should mention that there was LOTS of praise every time she got a word right or remembered it without hesitation. A wrong guess always came with encouraging and a helpful correction.

On Day Three, I began just like Day Two, only by this day, we had real results (yay!!). She knew most, if not all, of the words without hesitation and was proud of it. Any words she learned cold, I'd put in the appropriate section. New words would be cycled in to replace the words she knew with confidence so that the amount of words she was learning every day was always five. 

For example, let's say our working set had the words 'hat', 'bat', 'sat', 'mat', 'fat'. Say she struggled with 'sat' and 'fat' but easily remembered and identified 'hat', 'bat' and 'mat', the latter three cards would come out and be replaced by three of the next words I grabbed out of the section we were working from ('our', 'are', 'you') so that the working set would now be 'sat', 'fat', 'our', 'are', 'you'.

You may be wondering why I kept the words she had down cold so handy if she already knew them. Here's why: I'd go back and review/quiz her on them every day to be sure she wouldn't forget them and more importantly, to build up her confidence  in forging ahead to learn the next set of words (it really worked!).

And that's it. That's all we had to do to really jump start her reading and boost her confidence to try learning more words on her own. Reading to them at night helped a lot, about three books per night, and I made sure they could sit next to me and see the words I was reading. 

Journaling or writing stories helped, because she would ask how to spell the words she didn't know, which gradually became less and less. She would also attempt to read signs on her own while we were out and about, too. Now, newly six, she reads like a champ and I am truly proud of what she can do. She surprises me all the time with what she knows and what she can figure out. And that is truly rewarding.

Monday, September 5, 2011

We're School!

Happy Back to School Everyone! Well, in reality the start of our school year has been pushed back due to observance of Ramadan & Eid ul Fitr, The Move, and general craziness in our lives, BUT taking the time to plan ahead and get organized for Year 2 has helped my sanity tremendously.

I found these great organizers at WalMart (if you must know).
Too much pink? Never!

These are our paper trays...exciting, I know. Plain paper for drawing is in the top tray.
Once we locate the box it was packed in, construction paper will go in the bottom for neat, easy access.

This past week, I've been lesson-planning and getting our new homeschooling area organized and neat. One new organizational thing I've decided this year to employ is using magazine files for each set of books: 1 for each child for books they use daily, 1 for foreign language books, 1 for relevant library books we're using for unit study, and 1 for books I use every day with the kids (ie, What Your 1st Grader Needs To Know and others).

One thing we're bringing back from last year is in the picture below hiding behind the pencil/scissor/marker holder. It's an open letter tray (not the stackable kind) so that once they're done with their masterpieces, they go in there and not all over the table or floor.

This is our shelf, look how neat- yay!
OK, so our new magazine file is lonely...but not for long. 

I also came up with a few topics I'd particularly like to cover this year in addition to the norm, such as all about foreign countries- probably a new one every 2 weeks, weather (thank you Irene and 5.8 earthquake for your inspiration), and our goal is to learn five new Surahs from the Qur'an this year. If we go over, great, but I think for kids so young, five will be manageable insha'Allah. Oh, and my three-almost-four-year-old is asking me to teach her to read, and we've already gotten started (I'll post on that next week) so I have much on my plate;^)

What you are doing or what have you done to prepare for the upcoming year? Feel free to share anything organizational (great supplies you've found), practical (taken a spa day, beach day or vacation time with the family to rest up), theoretical (brainstormed ideas you'd like to try or set goals for the upcoming year), or whatever's on your mind. All of it is part of the formula that makes your homeschool tick!

I hope your year is successful and full of many great adventures with the most important people in your life!