So, we have been using the book Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons now for two weeks, and I felt it was time to give a bit of an update on our progress. I won't lie; it hasn't been the easiest two weeks of our lives, but at the same time, I *think* Little Bean is ready for this next step into the world of reading.
--Each lesson introduces only one new thing at a time, so the child has time to fully understand and digest the new information before learning something new.
--The introduction of new sounds and words is very organized and intentional. I can almost predict where the author is heading with each new lesson, and Little Bean seems to as well. So far, he has learned the short a, s, m, t, d, the long e, the double e sound, as in seed, r, and the silent a, as in eat, and has read at least 15 to 20 words (multiple times of course), including one sentence! He already knows his letter sounds, so that part is review for him, which really helps that he has that knowledge going into the curriculum.
--This curriculum is very repetitive, giving the child plenty of chances to perfect their pronunciation, blending skills, and decoding skills. In the past, I had always had Little Bean say each sound individually and then decode the word, but in this curriculum, they want the child to blend the sounds, without pausing in between in order to make words, a much more effective technique, I think. Since Little Bean was used to saying the sounds individually, he has had a tough time blending (rrrraaaat, instead of rrr-aaa-t, if that makes sense). Just today I noticed his blending is improving, and I credit that to the repitition in this book.
--Little Bean feels success at the end of each lesson, knowing he has completed another day's work and is that much closer to reading independently. There was one day when, after reading a word, he put his arms around neck and gave me a hug. With a huge smile on his face, he said, "Oh, mommy, I love you!"
--For Little Bean, sometimes the repetitiveness of the lessons can be a negative thing because although he needs the review, he knows that there won't be anything new and exciting in the lesson (keyword being new) and he often loses motivation to finish because of that. I have had to offer an incentive during the lesson that we would spend some time on starfall.com if he completed his lesson for the day with a good attitude and in a timely manner.
--Sometimes the lessons can last longer than Little Bean has the ability to pay attention. We had one particularly bad day where he had a total meltdown about doing the lesson. I decided I had to give him the option of stopping mid lesson and finishing it later in the day when he felt more refreshed and had had a bit of a break. Ironically, since then, he has wanted to finish the whole lesson in one sitting, so I haven't actually made use of that option yet!
Some general thoughts:
I'll be honest, it is a real struggle for me to know if I am doing the right thing by teaching Little Bean to read right now. Of course, reading is an extremely important life skill, but I question whether he needs to know how to do it right now. After all, many children don't learn to read until 1st grade or later, so it's not like he's behind. On the other hand, he LOVES books, LOVES being read to, and has mastered the alphabet and it's sounds. At the risk of sounding like the doting mother, I'll say that I think he is really bright for his age. The next natural step seems to me to be teaching him to read.
If Little Bean enjoyed every lesson, I wouldn't even question whether or not he is ready. However, because we have had several bad days (about as many as good ones), I do wonder whether I am doing right by him. I know his brain is ready to learn to read, I just don't know if he is mature enough to deal with the learning curve involved in learning to read. My feeling right now is that I don't want to give up or put it off just yet. We are two weeks in; if, when we are a quarter or halfway through we are still having so many hard days, then I will put it off until he is older, but right now I feel like some of the hard days could be due to just getting used to a new thing. While reading is very natural to us, learning to read isn't a natural process. In essence, Little Bean is learning to dechipher a man-made written code and make meaning out of it. With it being such a monumental task, I have to guess there will be days where he will be more frustrated with the material than others. So for now, I am plunging on. :)
I will keep you all updated as the progress continues!