Homeschooling

Psst…the two secrets to teaching your child how to read…

Posted by on Mar 2, 2015 in Homeschooling, Kid Stuff | 0 comments

The number one educational concern that I keep hearing over and over from other moms of young kids is this, “How do I teach my child to read?” It seems like this hugely complex process that should take years of struggle. It’s not. Many kids learn really quickly. It might take years for some kids, but at least they can be enjoyable years. It’s not about having a magical language arts program. I taught two of my kids to read without using any curriculum at all, both at 4 years old (and my oldest didn’t talk until he was almost 3, so it’s not like he was precocious in the language area or anything). I have a ton of books in the house already because I used to teach elementary school. Yeah, I taught kids to read for a living and have an extra certification in teaching literacy….but for most kids, the below method works really well and is painless. My mom taught first grade in the city for 25+ years, and she taught her students the same way and was known as the teacher that parents always wanted to get. The key is that when a kid wants to read, they will put immense effort into it. When they think it’s boring, or pointless, you can work your tail off to make them read, but you’ll get pitiful results.  So, focus on making them want to read, and on teaching them that they are able to learn how to read. Those are the two secret ingredients for teaching your child how to read. Doing these things take time each day, but it’s enjoyable as long as you decide to enjoy the process and forget about the progress. Let the child make the effort. You just make time to be enthusiastic about the time you spend reading together.    Teach the letters and sounds that they make. You can do this any way you’d like. Sonlight would be fine (it’s for homeschoolers), but there are many curricula out there. My own kids watched the Preschool Prep DVD  “Meet the Letters” because they liked it, and that taught them all their letters in about a week. The Preschool Prep DVDs are gold. They enjoyed the LeapFrog DVDs, too, but honestly I’m not sure how much they really learned from them. Then we read their favorite books over and over and eventually they joined in. Then we just read whatever books they wanted to read, and I pointed out that the sounds of the letters blend together, and showed them how to practice blending.” I See Sam” books are free to print out on the internet and are good leveled, easy readers.    Then, be sure kids are getting a good phonics base. Using stuff like Explode the Code, etc, is good. Pick a phonics program and stick with it, unless you hate it, in which case, switch and then stick with the new one.    Early on, do not get frustrated about “progress” and “levels” because as long as you are reading daily, when their brain is mature enough, it will click. Just enjoy the books and laugh about them, cry about them, etc., whatever your child likes. If you make reading a chore, they will be turned off, and that’s the last thing you want. I never force it, I just say that I am enjoying this book, so let’s read it together.   Better to make a shelf of books that are “forbidden” during school time. They will go right for those books as soon as you are done...

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Using Sonlight to homeschool multiple children

Posted by on Dec 16, 2014 in Homeschooling, Kid Stuff | 0 comments

When I first started homeschooling, I had just quit my job and gone into private practice, and I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on homeschooling because #1, I wasn’t sure what to get, and #2, I *had* just quit my job and it takes a while to build up a business. Homeschooling and keeping my work hours to part time were my priorities, so money took the back seat to my kids (and always will). Sonlight was a bit confusing for me when I first looked at it. They sell packages by grade level, but I knew that I didn’t want that because I prefer different math programs. I also unschool quite well in science and social studies. I looked at many language arts curricula but I couldn’t find anything that fit the level that my son was at. I’m also not a fan of textbooks or traditional style teaching. Since I taught elementary school for 7 years and also specifically taught first grade, and my oldest was in first grade at the time, I decided to wing it last year. That worked out fine. We used a lot of Robinson Curriculum stuff, but I let him read a lot of books that I consider to be modern classics, and not only the books that are listed in the Robinson Curriculum. That also worked out fine. This year he’s in second grade, and unschooling has been much harder. I feel like it takes a lot, I mean a LOT of work to unschool and do it right. I also feel like unschooling went much better when at least twice per week I went to work and my younger children went to my mom’s house, and my oldest stayed at home with dad and worked quietly next to him. (Now, of course, I say we “unschooled,” but we used a math curriculum, he always had Chinese homework to study and was tested at Chinese school, and I provided work to be done. I mean unschooling to be that I really didn’t force anything and I didn’t do much of what people think of as “teaching”) I have been busy with work, and my mom can’t watch my younger children very often right now, and to top it off I signed up for way too many “extra curricular” activities like music, gym, and homeschool co-op. Our schedule has been off and I cannot stand the inconsistency. I took another look at Sonlight and realized that you do not have to buy an entire grade level package. You can order a “Core” and include Language Arts and Bible, but you don’t have to get their math, science, or social studies. Their language arts is flexible – meaning that you can order one “Core” with different levels of Language Arts. You can even order one Core and get TWO Language Arts packages with it. I had read about people using Sonlight with two or three children at different levesls, and they described hunting down alternative books. Look, I am not paying $$$$ to make my life more complicated. If I wanted to hunt everything down, I could do that for free. Because I could get different Language Arts sub-packages with Sonlight, I don’t have to hunt down anything. We can do our Core activities and then I can get the kids through their separate Language Arts, and all we have to do is follow the schedule. I chanced upon the sub-packages on the website, I didn’t think it was easy to find at all, and when I chatted with the...

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