This is a continuation of homeschool curriculum series. I’m sharing all about my experience over the past five years of using various homeschool curricula. I hope this helps in your curriculum search.
I once had a friend tell me that teaching a child to read is the most difficult thing to teach a child. Whether or not she’s right, it can definitely pose a big challenge. We started homeschooling when my oldest was four, so I immediately began looking into reading curricula. I was so overwhelmed by the amount of homeschool curricula, that I just turned my computer off, and called a few trusted friends. 🙂 What I ended up using was The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading by: Jessie Wise and Sara Buffington.
What are you looking for in a reading curriculum?
I spoke to several people, and honestly to begin with, I had no idea what to look for in a curriculum. I didn’t know anything about teaching a child to read, and I definitely didn’t know if a curriculum was good, great, or the best. All I knew is that I wanted my children to learn how to read, to read well, and to love reading. After speaking to several different people, I thumbed through a few different curricula, and narrowed it down to the one we use now: The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading by Jessie Wise and Sara Buffington. My primary reason in choosing this curriculum was that everything else overwhelmed me. I needed something that I could teach from. I needed something that didn’t have much preparations involved, and I needed something that was simple for my children. As soon as I looked at it I knew it was for me.
What I love about The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading!
- User friendly! Or as I stated a few weeks ago…mama with lots-o-kids friendly! Seriously, this book is easy to use for anyone. The lessons are scripted, and the instructor is given a list of supplies needed for the optional activity for the end of the lesson. You don’t need to spend a month digging into the philosophy behind the reading program, you just sit on the couch with your child, open the book, and get going.
- Scripted. The lessons are scripted for the instructor, which is one of the aspects that make it so user-friendly. I’m using this book with my third child now, and I’ve gotten to where I just have to briefly look at the script before instructing my child. Most of the time I don’t read straight from the script, but like Saxon Math, it helps me in guiding my child to learning how to read.
- Few materials needed. At the most, you’ll need index cards, magnetic letters, and a magnetic board. A few of the games use more materials found around the house, or in your pantry (such as a slice of bread).
- Little to no prep time. Actually, most weeks, I don’t do any preparations. I just grab the book, sit on the couch with my child, and start instructing.
- One book reaching many levels. The book is designed to take the child from learning the letter sounds to reading multi-syllable words. It’s designed for you to spend several years to complete. I love this because there’s no pressure to complete a level by a certain time frame. And there are no issues if we need to go back a few sections to solidify reading skills. We just move through the book at our own pace, and I’m not stuck purchasing higher levels, and accompanying supplies every year.
- Combining sight words with phonics. Throughout the book, the child is introduced to a sight word that “breaks the rules,” or simply makes reading a sentence easy for the child. It’s not overwhelming, and the child still learns how to sound out words. I think this book offers a good blend of the two.
- Short and sweet. The lessons in the beginning might take about five minutes, then grow to ten minutes, and then to fifteen minutes. In actuality, this book is great for short attention spans! Did I mention my boys want to learn to read while spinning in circles around the room?
What I don’t like.
- Little instruction at the end for reading large words. Both my older two children struggled with the final sections of reading multi-syllable words. I don’t feel the book equips the parent well for the challenging material at the end. Not all children experience this difficulty, but we do. I’d love to see a little more explanation, or tips on helping the child read those large words.
- Regional accents of phonetic sounds. This book does not take into consideration the difference in how some word combinations are pronounced in different regions of the United States. There were quite a few vowel combinations that I had to skip, or teach a different way to my children simply because here in the South, we just pronounce some things differently. 🙂
Using this book in everyday life.
- Drilling phonetic flash cards. I use plain index cards to write down vowel combinations, blends, digraphs, etc… all as they are introduced in the book. I also do this as sight words are introduced. I start our lesson with reviewing phonetics and site words; as the list grows, we review some of the phonetics at a time (such as half and half). The review is built into the lesson, but I’ve found this has been an easier way for us to review.
- We sit on the couch, and begin our lesson. I read the instructions, introduce the new sound, and practice.
- Stop the lesson, and read books. I will occasionally skip the lesson, and let my child read a few books to me as a way to practice, and refine their skills.
- When they struggle. When I see they’re beginning to struggle, I’ll stop the lessons, drill the flash cards, let them read books to me, or read previous lessons until they’re ready to move forward. This break might be a week, a month, or a few months. They just practice until they’re ready.
All of that being said, my older two children have completed the book, love to read, and read well. Just what I wanted! And my third child is well on his way in the same direction.
When do I start teaching my child to read? How do I know he’s ready for reading? What about spelling, and other Language Arts? All these questions I plan on tackling next time!
Have you used this book in your home? What do you use to teach your child to read?
Check out the rest of the series!
- Saxon Math: What I Love!
- Saxon Math: What I Don’t Like
- Getting the Most From Saxon Math
- Is my child ready to read or write?