So the Scientist is reading. For reals this time. It’s only been coming on slowly for over a year now since he first started reading but this week, it finally clicked, which leads me to what works for me this week: Basic Primers.
On Monday, I got up with all the vim and vigor of a mom on a mission, to start schoolwork again, and to start reading, every day, with my oldest. See, we started using a Seton Kindergarten phonics book when he was a little over four because he was begging me to learn how to read. Unfortunately, that didn’t go so well, and rather than forcing something that he didn’t actually need a the time, I chose to put the books away and wait. The next year, when he was about five, we tried again, this time with the CHC phonics program, Little Stories for Little Folks. It worked way better for him, up to a point. After learning the alphabet and one sound for each letter, he seemed ready to move on, so on we moved. We started working with the sound blending and word forming, and everything was going swimmingly. That is, until we started reading the little books that come with the set. This is when things got tricky.
While he was able to read the books, it was with much prodding and pushing and pleading, and yes, at times, yelling, that I was able to get him to read anything. He was not interested in it. I think, looking back at it now, it’s the things that make the program affordable that also make it hard to use. There are a ton of words shoved onto every page, no color, and mediocre at best drawings that didn’t keep his attention. It was just too much of the one and too little of everything else. This keeps the cost down, but it also takes the fun out of it. Once again, after forcing it for a while, we dropped it.
Fast forward to this school year. The Scientist is now six, and we decided to try out a basic MCP first grade phonics book. He’s almost done that book now, and while it was very helpful, I’m certain he wouldn’t have been any better off with this one than he had been with the kindergarten one had it not been for the little CHC break in the middle. That being said, it was still like pulling teeth to get him to read. Oh sure, he’s read about three books so far, all on his level, but all so spread out that they can’t really be considered all that helpful. Until this week.
This week, we started on our primers. The first one, the trilogy of Here We Come, This is Our Home, and Here We Are Again, is pretty darn basic. There is some necessary sight reading (as there is in even the best of phonics based reading programs; I’m lookin’ at you, “you”), but for the most part, they are simple stories with simple words and a very limited vocabulary. The stories in this particular book are based around a Catholic family of Mother, Father, David, and Ann (so far), and not all that thrilling. And you know what? He loves it! Since Monday, he’s whipped through half of the book, and is eager to read again. It even encouraged him to speed up his usual snail’s pace during his math facts practice sheet. Suffice it to say, he loves this book and because of it, he is actually reading.
What have I learned from this? Partly, stick to the tried and true. Phonics and simple stories that repeat the same words over and over and over again seem to do the trick, at least for him. Partly, keep trying until you find the right path for you and your kid. Finally, remember that each kid is different. The Ninja Monkey never needed the intense alphabet study that the Scientist did. I have no idea why this is, but he definitely had it down pat long before he started pre-k, and now, he’s chomping at the bit to get started on the first grade phonics book (he finished the kindergarten one over two months ago). Right now, what works for me is the repetition that is building his reading confidence, and right now, that’s got me doing the happy dance.