I am a curriculum junkie.
My thinking is that if I just have the right curriculum, I’ll follow through with it and my children will be smart, and I’ll have been a good teacher. But I’m pretty much a curriculum failure. That’s the downside. The upside is that I’ve learned a few things about teaching my children, and they involve little more than a library card, a notebook, and a pen.
The focus on education in our house right now is reading. My oldest is six and half years old and she still isn’t reading fluently, even though we’ve done reading curriculum since she was four. Here’s the part where I feel like a big homeschooling failure. We’ve never completed a reading curriculum, and let’s see, we’ve tried:
The philosphy behind Teach Your Child to Read and Spell (TATRAS) is fantastic, and by far my favorite way of teaching my child to read. It teaches using vertical phonics, which is all about decoding words so that your child not only learns to read, but also to spell. For example, when you learn the letter “a”, you learn all the sounds that the “a” makes. Love love love this. Unfortunately, the layout of this curriculum was confusing to me. I need to be able to have things simple: turn the page, do this, do that, bada-bing, bada-boom. I also tried starting this program when my girl was four. That probably wasn’t a great idea.
We made it to lesson 87 and the lessons weren’t stickin. Neither of us enjoyed this program, and I especially didn’t like that decoding or rules weren’t taught-I want my children to understand the English language, not just be able to read. However, I know many people love this program. In fact, my mentor Sally Clarkson used it with her children.
Since we started with 100 Easy Lessons, my daughter was in a strange reading phase where certain things were too easy, but decoding was difficult. This curriculum is beautiful, and I love the art focus, but it was just too much for me. My daughter loved it, but that’s mainly because it involved crafts, and she loves crafts.
I wish I would have started my daughter on this program from the beginning. It’s simple, fun, easy for me and my daughter, and explains how we use language (why do we use a “k” instead of a “c”). At this point, however, I just use this curriculum as a guide.
Since I’ve experienced four different reading programs, I’ve come to learn a thing or two about teaching my daughter to read and what works for us.
What I’ve Learned About Reading Curriculum
I have found reading curriculum to be way more intense/complicated/busy than what is required to teach a child (my child) to read. I understand curriculum developers want to make it fun, but it just makes the process more difficult and time-consuming (unless you like that sort of thing – many people do, I don’t).
How I’m Teaching My Daughter To Read
I go to the library and check out books appropriate for my daughters reading level (what I know she can read with help). I look through the first book, write down the words I know she’ll have a hard time with and words where I can teach her a rule (“when you see ie together, you say “e”). Then write in my notebook the rules and the words I want her to learn. Once I’ve done that, I ask her to come for her reading lesson. We go over my notebook of words and sounds, and then I hand her the library book and tell her I’ve prepared her to read it. She reads, and we work on fluency. Then she’s done. Once she completes reading 10 books she earns a prize.
That’s it, that’s her reading curriculum. Bada-bing, bada-boom.
We don’t spend more than 10 or 15 minutes on reading lessons, but she will have to read me the book again in the evening, and of course, I read to her.
Eventually, we will use curriculum again for reading. For my other children, we’ll just go straight for the notebook and pen.
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