Reading with Jenny

I just read THIS post from September.  I said I would update the blog on our progress, but I get the feeling that I haven’t said much about how homeschooling is going.

Our first few months were rough and actual teaching times were few and far between.  And then I bought a book: Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Engelmann.  (You can buy it here in the US and here in Canada.  I bought mine on eBay and waited a LONG time for it, too.)

This book is amazing.  See how that word is both bold and in italics?  Yes, it’s that incredible.  It teaches phonetically, so instead of teaching Jenny that A is the letter A/a and makes the sound “ay” or “ah” or “aa” and then carrying on through the alphabet that way, it taught her the sound “mmm” and “sss” on the first day. 

We are now on lesson 25 (we started over a month ago but missed quite a few days while I was sick and during the holidays) and she’s doing great.  She now knows the sounds mmm, sss, aaa (as in apple), e (eat), t, rrr, d, iii (if), th (this), c (tack), ooo (ox), and nnn.  Today her “story” was, “A rat is in a sack. That rat is not sad.”  She sounds out old and new sounds and words and then reads the story by sounding out each word.  She needs help at times, but her progress is incredible, considering that in November, we were still floundering with trying to teach letter names and not getting past C.

We work every day of the week, even Sundays, because I’m trying hard to keep up her momentum.  If each lesson took an hour, we certainly wouldn’t be working on the weekends, but as it is, each lesson takes between ten and twenty minutes per day.  So when they say “easy” lessons in the title, they mean it.  At the end of the book, the child is expected to be reading at a second grade reading level.  I wasn’t sure if I believed that it could work so well, but I’m a believer now.  If you need a better system for teaching your bright preschooler or homeschooled older child to read, check out this book – it works!!

As for other subjects, we’ve worked a bit on numbers and she’s getting quite good at basic addition from one to ten, but she still has trouble counting beyond thirteen.  I expect it will just take a few days of consistent work with her to get her counting higher, but for now I’ve been focusing almost entirely on reading. If I give her a pile of small objects to work with, she can do basic addition and subtraction quite easily, but then she is counting most of the time. 

My goal at this point for the end of the year is to have her counting on her own to one hundred (because I know she can do it), doing easy math problems up to twenty and have her reading.  If we stay on track with the reading, she’ll be done with the book in about two and a half months (probably more like three since we’re taking a vacation in February).  I can’t wait to be able to take her to the library, get her a library card (something she doesn’t have yet) and help her check out books.  I look forward to a good deal of the school day being reading time for her.  She has a very active imagination and loves telling stories, so I’m quite sure she’ll be an avid reader once she has the ability.

I still feel like I’m faking the whole homeschool thing, but whenever I start to feel guilty, I remind myself how happy I am to have Jenny at home and that she is, after all, only in kindergarten this year.  Next year we will have to have a better schedule for school as Elias will start kindergarten and Jenny will need a bit more structure.  Anyway, I’ll tackle that when I come to it.  For now, I’m happy with what we’re doing and the great success of this wonderful book.

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