Yes, it's time for another update on our progress with the book Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. If you recall, my last update, which was a few weeks ago, was that things weren't going particularly smoothly. Little Bean was bored and frustrated with the material, and I was unsure of whether I was pushing him too hard or if he was just adjusting to the new routine.
I'm happy to report that we are a quarter of the way through the curriculum now, and have turned a corner! Shortly after my last update I began to try a few different techniques (nothing major), and apparently they were just the thing Little Bean needed to get him motivated and feeling positive about his reading experience.
The first thing I did was so simple; I just pulled out a little yellow post it note, and I covered up the words directly below or above or around the words he was to be focusing on. The layout of this book is very condensed, and that makes each page a bit too busy for Little Bean's eyes, I think. Once I started doing this, he began moving through the words so much more quickly, accurately and smoothly. This alone made a huge difference in our lesson times.
The second thing I did was actually something the book recommends, but initially I was hesitant to try. In the introduction of this book, they talk about a child's possible reluctance to participate in the lessons, and suggest saying things like, "This is a really hard word, I don't think you'll be able to read this one!". When I read that, I thought that it was sort of counter intuitive to tell the child that you don't think that he can do something that you want him to do. Rather, I focused all my efforts on praising him and telling him that he could do it. The book does, of course, encourage you to praise the child, but also suggests these other types of sentences to encourage them to forge ahead with the lessons.
One day, I decided to give it a try, and said something to him along the lines of, "You're right Little Bean. These lessons are really hard. I don't think you can do them." And to my surprise, he immediately was like, "I can do them! I'll show you!" and had this huge grin on his face. Now, he'll often ask me before reading a word, "You don't think I can read this word, do you?" and with a wide grin, will proceed to read it and then await my feigned surprise and subsequent praise. It still seems strange to me that this works, but I think the key is that he knows I am making it into a game of "let's see if you really can read it", not that I really think that he can't do it (if that makes sense).
Finally, I think that part of his frustration was just getting used to the new routine and material. We started the curriculum just a few days before our trip to OK, which meant that we didn't really establish much of a routine as to when we were going to do our reading lesson. We squeezed it in whenever we could while on the road in OK. Once we returned, I made it a habit of pulling out the book right after Little Bean had breakfast, and that really seemed to help make it a part of a our day. Instead of something optional that he could complain about having to do, it became just something that we do after breakfast. A few times now he has even mentioned how he is going to "speed through" his reading once he is done with breakfast.
Also, the material is getting more interesting now, as it is more and more focused on a "story" that he reads and associates with a drawing in the book. He looks foreword to this part of the lesson, so that is a major incentive for him to finish quickly with the drills and get on to the story part of the lesson.
I don't want to give the impression that things are just perfect now. We still have days when he struggles to finish a lesson, or gets bored or frustrated. But I think now we have walked down a new path, and while we both have a long way to go and a lot to learn, we are headed in the right direction. He is no longer unhappy or struggling with the lessons very often at all.
I want to continue to update on our progress as the weeks go by. I value all the advice and perspectives from those of you who commented or emailed me concerning my last update. I want you to know that I looked at the BOB books and showed them to Little Bean, but for the price (and considering he wasn't at all interested in them when I showed them to him), I felt I could make something similar at home and for free. Thank you all for your continued support as Little Bean and I continue on this journey in teaching him to read.