January 26, 2012

Yeah! They Are Reading!

Today, Zak and I had a giggle over the name of the fox in his story, “foxy woxy.” Every time he read it he jabbed me in the side with his elbow and giggled. I giggled too. Mostly I am giggling because Zak is reading, all my boys are reading and I am thrilled. I am also relieved. I have struggled with this subject since we began working on it two years ago. It is so nice to finally be over the hump. Now we are giggling and enjoying stories together. They don’t read perfectly, but that is part of the charm of it. There is something so precious in hearing the emerging reader sounding out words and getting a funny sort of rhythm to the telling. One of my boys shouts. Why, I don’t know, but it seems to help him keep on task. I am not complaining only reminding him he doesn’t have to shout when he reads.

My plan this year was to saturate them with little language lessons through out the time we ‘do school’ in the mornings. I had four different things I did on top of narration, and copywork. We did a lot of language arts each day. As we have been doing these I noticed that some of the lessons were really working, and some were not. So I have adjusted the plan.

Here is the old plan:

• Read a story from the Elson reader each day. Narrate the story they read.

• Write down and review on phonic rule each day.

• Two times a week do a lesson from Reading Reflex at the reading level.

• Two times a week do a reading lesson from Reading Made Easy, with worksheets from the activity book.

• Do copy work at least once each day in other subjects like history, music, or astronomy.

Here is the new plan:

• Read a story from the Elson reader each day. Narrate the story they read.

• Write down and review one phonic rule each day.

• Do one lessons worth of worksheets from the reading Made Easy activity book each day. That is about three to four simple worksheets.

• Do copy work at least once each day in other subjects like history, music, or astronomy.

If you look at the new plan you will have noticed we dropped the formal reading lessons from RME and RR. Those were the things I added because I was nervous they would have a few gaps in their learning if I did not do them. The things I kept the boys all WANTED to do and are using them to teach themselves what they need to know to read.

My oldest son wanted to do the phonics rules, so last year when he told me this I created the way we would do this, and it is working great. I posted two sheets one for the steps to do to complete the review sheet, and another sheet with the steps to write down the phonics rule for that day. They can do this lesson by themselves. Once they are finished the rule card and the review sheet, I check their work and they redo it if it did not meet the standard I have prescribed. It took only a few sloppy endeavors for them to realize it was more work to do it hastily than to do it right. :)

They all adored the worksheets so we kept those and copywork, well it is required by mom still.

My twins wanted to read through the Elson readers, so all three boys are doing just that. I was reluctant to do this at first because I thought they would not have enough words to be able to read it, and then they would be discouraged. But, they were determined and away they went. I had planned to do JUST the primary book this year, reading two or three times a week. And I had planned to use a few of the teacher’s guide activities on the days we did not read, but I soon saw that they needed to read every day and not to bother them with the teacher’s book stuff at all. They read every day and made quick time through the primary book and went on to book one. The stories are still simple but longer. They are just about to finish it, we begin book two next week. I am so proud of them!

I am beginning to see my boys owning their learning process. What fun that is! To see them chose materials for their reading lesson last year which will to get them to the goal of learning to read and then to watch them using those materials to do it is wonderful. It is a pleasure to see them succeeding and to know I had very little to do with it. Truly, I have been more like the parent steadying the bike as the child is learning to ride it. They are doing the work to ride, I am simply keeping them up until they do it. Now I watch as they are riding on down the block under the large elm trees soaring away into a whole new world.


  1. This is great Sara. It is great to see how organized you are being with this! My boys are using the A Beka readers/phonics rules for English and I agree--they needed to read every day to begin making good progress and I do think it helps boys to learn to rules in a systematic way. We did something different last year and my 7 year old got confused and made less progress. Thanks for posting your ideas!! Do you download the out of print books and bind or try to find copies of them? Have you tried having your kids read from your kindle? I haven't bought one yet and have been wondering if it would be a different experience for my boys than actually holding a book.

  2. I looked high and low for a downloadable form of the Elson Readers so each of the boys could have a copy. However, in the end had to buy them. I bought one copy and then I photcopied the book three times so each boy could have his own copy. I keep the orginal. There are loads of old readers in the public domain though, most of McGuffey's Eclectic readers can be found at project gutenberg as well as Herriot Treadwall's readers. If you have trouble finding something email me and I'll send you a few links. :)

    I love my kindle and I am planning to buy the boys each one once they are reading on their own. Then I can download the books they need for that year and sync them to their kindles. Most of the good free books are at a reading level above where they can read just now, but not all. I wonder if Mcguffey is on kindle? I bet he is. The Kindle should work well for reading at any stage. For my boys I would need to allow them time to fiddle with the machine FIRST so that is not a distraction. :) It would save loads of money on copying and the time and trouble for printing, binding etc. and the prices are coming down.

  3. I just found a wonderful site called Li2go.com.(the link is under FREE books on my side bar) There are many classic books formatted nicely in PDF form and many also have the same book in an MP3 format. But what is so great about this site is that the books are brokken up into chapters and rated according the Flesch reading levels. Under the tab "readbility" each chapter is rated according to a Flesch reading level. So it would very easy to go to the reading level your child is at and print off several poems, rhymes, and short stories they can read at that level. Awesome. I may use this when the boys finish with the Elson readers. It may be the equivalent of a FREE Elson type reader online. Have a look!