Teaching your children to read can either be very exciting or very frightening. I was excited to teach my first daughter to read, but I know that that is not always the case with homeschool parents. I'm now teaching my 3rd child to read, and I have learned that every kid is different.
So I'm going to share what I did with each child, what worked, and what didn't.
When Claudia was 5, we started Kindergarten. We used A Beka curriculum for everything. So that's what our reading program was, too. We used the Handbook for Reading, the workbooks, and the handwriting program all together. It was fun, and she learned quickly.
However, by the time she was around 7 or 8, she still wasn't enjoying reading. That's what my goal was, and it wasn't happening. I had always loved reading as a child, and I couldn't understand where we had gone wrong!
At that time, I was an Usborne Books representative. There were always new books coming into our home, either through order fulfillment or through my Usborne purchases. It was very exciting!
One day, as I was sorting and packing orders, Claudia picked up a chapter book on King Arthur, sat down and read the entire book! The trick was to find a book she was really interested in. Voila! After that, she took off!
Now she is 14, and she reads extremely well, flying through her assigned reading and asking for more. My heart is happy. : )
When it was time for Chloe to read, we were going through some very difficult personal circumstances, one of which was financial distress. That meant no extra money for curriculum. I did still have the A Beka Handbook for Reading, so we just started with that. Each week, I taught her a new sound from the book, and then reviewed the old sounds.
I still had a few of the A Beka readers (although not all of them), and she worked her way through those.
Fast forward (again) to age 7. Chloe could read, but not well, and not for fun. I was content to let her take it slow, but she was about to join a couple of classes in our Enrichment Class program that might be easier if she could read. Times were still very hard, so I started surfin' the 'net.
I found so many free resources that I was able to create an entire program for her from various websites (which I'll share in my next post). I also went to our public library and checked out easy readers, like Amelia Bedelia, Frog and Toad, and other similar books. She LOVED them! Within a few months of starting this method, she discovered Magic Tree House books, and just took off on her own!
Now she reads very well, and enjoys it, too! And not once did we use a real curriculum!
I had looked at this book before, but it didn't appeal to me. It is very different from A Beka. But I was willing to give it another look, since I had freed myself from the typical textbook thinking. I just happened upon a used book sale at that time and got my copy for $3. Woohoo!
Just before Nicholas turned 4, we started with this book. He loved it and learned quickly! We take it slowly, and we don't follow every scripted word. We also don't do the handwriting exercises yet. He just enjoys the reading exercises, and is so proud of himself for learning new sounds and words.
I am very happy with this method for Nicholas, and at this point I plan to use it with the rest of my little ones.
To sum all this up, I will share briefly what I've learned in 10 years of homeschooling, and more specifically, teaching kids to read:
It doesn't really matter what curriculum you use.
Finding reading material that is interesting to the kids is KEY.
Don't worry about spending big bucks; just take it easy and have fun.
Okay, I know that's not world-changing information, but it has helped me through the years. When I see my kids get excited about a new book, or visiting the library, I know I've done something right!