One of the first decisions we had to make when we removed our kids from school and started home educating was choosing a phonics program. My 6-year-old is a proficient reader (for his age), but my younger 5-year-old was still learning to read at Reception class, and my youngest 4 year-old in Nursery had yet to start.
After scouring the web for possible options and reviews, we settled on the book “Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons” by Siegfried Engelmann. It was easy and inexpensive to buy on Amazon.co.uk (only £12.99), and in less than two days, it was in my hands. Admittedly, I was quite nervous about the prospect of teaching my kids to read. I had a head start with my 5-year-old though since he was already familiar with phonics and reading at school, but I was nervous about my youngest.
I spent some time viewing a couple of Youtube videos of mums teaching their children using the book and got a feel for it. Then I read the Parent’s Guide in the book, I believe the author recommends that you take your time to read through all the information carefully…follow that advice! I found it very helpful! I read the guide about three times, twice before starting and one last time when we had completed a couple of lessons. Reading it for the third time helped me to make some corrections to my teaching method and get back on track. The guide discusses the methodology behind the program, and they also list different strategies and helpful hints/tricks in case of any issues you may experience with your child.
I bookmarked two pages: page 17 for the pronunciation guide and page 24 for the sound-writing chart as I found that I referred to those pages often during teaching.
Next, I printed two 100 sticker charts, one for each child and stuck these on our living room wall where we did our homeschooling activities. The charts were hard to miss and were visible to the entire family, and whoever else came to our home! This visibility gave my kids ownership and accountability …not to mention an incentive to keep at it because of a promise of a special treat at the very end! A project of 100 days is quite a long endeavour for a 4 and 5-year-old 😊
Then I got very excited about the possibility of teaching my child to READ! And after prayer, I dived right in. Last Sunday my five-year-old finished lesson 100, and we had a small treat to celebrate his achievement.
Now that we are done with this book, these are some of my thoughts about the program:
- The lessons are relatively short and easy as the book states. It’s the first homeschool lesson we do in the morning because it gets completed quickly and *usually* effortlessly.
- However, of course, this depends on the ability of your child. My five-year-old did a lesson a day, but my four-year-old started to struggle on day 40. She needed more reinforcement of the material, and I felt moving at one lesson a day was too fast for her to retain what she was learning. So from lesson 41 onwards, I did the same lesson twice i.e. for two consecutive days. That worked well for her.
- I struggled to get the pronunciations right and found this video that explained the right sounds for the specific letter/letter combination. There are some tricky sounds for e.g. “th” and “r”.
- It has been an incredible experience seeing my four-year-old read! She is only at lesson 64 (see point 2), but she can read the big chunks of text in the book now, and I love seeing her confidence in reading blossom as a result. She loves to read random words when we are out and even attempts her brothers’ books. I believe the sound-writing exercise in the book gave her a good start with handwriting as well.
Our next step is to get started on early reader books, and for that we plan to get the popular Biff, Chip and Kipper books.