The past six or so months Finley has really picked up on reading it has become one of my favorite parts of our homeschool day. We don’t use any specific curriculum but are slightly more structured than unschooling. While I’m certainly no expert on teaching kids to read, we’ve found a rhythm thats been working well for us.
This post is not sponsored in anyway, I just genuinely love the products mentioned!
Where to start?
Personally, I believe children need to confidently know their letters upper and lowercase and all the letter sounds before they can really start to read. Now I know there are experts and boxed curriculums who disagree but speaking from experience when you slow down and just follow your child’s pace it creates a much more positive and productive learning environment. There are so many ways to teach letter recognition and sounds; game schooling is my go to though. Preschoolers and kindergarteners do not have the attention span to sit and practice flash cards. They simply don’t hold their attention and if you aren’t holding your child’s attention then they aren’t learning. One of Finley and Lincoln’s favorite ABC learning games is ABC go fish. You play it just like regular go fish except now you’re matching upper and lower case letters. To add an additional element of learning have your child say the letter’s sound when asking for a card. Another game that has really helped Finley learn her letter sounds is this super simple game we made up to play in the car. To play you say a simple CVC word like Cat or Dog, emphasizing the first letter sound. Your child then names the letter and repeats the sound. If your child doesn’t know their letters / letter sounds thats okay, keep it fun and have them take their best guess and then simply correct them if they get it wrong.
When I was searching for language arts curriculums one thing I kept coming across was memorizing phonics rules and or sight words. Memorization definitely has its place in learning, but memorization doesn’t always = understanding. Instead of memorizing the most common words, I wanted Finley to understand the phonics rules and be able to breakdown the parts of a word. We save sight words for those tricky words that seem to go against all the ” rules. Going back to my philosophy of if its not engaging they aren’t learning I didn’t want a phonics program based on memorization #boring. Enter in Secret Stories! “Secret Stories is a brain- based solution to the age – old problem of how to teach meaningless phonics skills in a meaningful way.” Secret stories takes those hard to remember and abstract phonics rules and gives them meaning through a unique short story. From Mama E to Sneaky Y and the Superhero vowels these short stories are an absolute game changer for teaching phonics. The best part is if you are already using a phonics curriculum this can be used right alongside it.
I recently discovered a set of early readers written by another homeschooling Mama Called Dash into Learning that we absolutely love! The illustrations are beautiful and the books build off of each other, increasing in difficulty. Finley recently finished her first set of 10 and we are now working on the second set. Each book starts with a mini lesson going over blends, 2-3 sight words and ending sounds. Finley’s reading has taken off since we purchased this set. I honestly can’t say enough good things about them!
And that’s it! We keep things simple in our homeschool! My goal is always how can I keep learning fun and engaging so that their love for learning continues to grow rather than being stifled by the need to meet bench marks and standards.