by Jessie Wise and Sara Buffington
I used Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons with First Son (an older version shown in my review). He did indeed learn to read, but there seemed to be a great many words that he would mispronounce. He couldn't seem to recognize or remember phonograms that were slightly different than what he had learned. He also seemed intimidated by more difficult words, skipping them, guessing at them, or merely replacing them with a word that he knew from the context had an appropriate meaning. I thought this would dissipate over time and I suppose it did get better, but through all of first and second grade I felt like he had to read everything aloud to me because he was consistently reading certain words incorrectly.
I was on the search for something more systematic and thorough for First Daughter and decided to try The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading. I have been very pleased with it! After reading Uncovering the Logic of English, I was pleased to see how well it followed the same thought pattern, introducing a more thorough list of phonograms. I modified the teacher text a little to take into account some of the different language or additional information in Uncovering the Logic of English. I think they complement each other well.
The lessons clearly state at the top what will be taught, the parent's role is clearly written out (though I often paraphrased the instructions), and the lessons follow a pattern that quickly becomes familiar - review words, new sounds and sample words, and a story to read. There are no pictures, which I liked because pictures are often more distracting than helpful. The stories are simple, of course, but I was often impressed with them given the small number of phonograms. I can only recall a few instances where a phonogram appeared in a story before it was introduced. (I should have written them down to report back to the author, but life in the midst of a school year is hectic.)
The book recommends a magnet board and letters for the lessons. First Daughter loves these. In fact, all the children love them and I've even used them with First Son. I bought the Little Red Tool Box: Magnetic Tabletop Learning Easel and Smethport 120 Foam Magnetic Letters. The board has held up really well to two years of use. The letters are all great except for the ones Second Daughter chewed. Even those still stick to the magnet board. I always watch carefully when my children are using magnets, though Second Daughter would only swallow them accidentally. I think the magnets in the letters are probably not strong enough to cause any health problems, but it's good to be vigilant. If you dislike magnets or wanted to avoid spending much money, a movable alphabet would also work.
I started First Daughter in this book the year before she started kindergarten. She turned five at the end of September that fall. We struggled. She was so wiggly! She would stare at the ceiling and complain that she couldn't see the words. I broke lessons down so we would only do about a third of a lesson each day. It was terrible and we both dreaded it, but it was also clear that she was learning, so I continued. That was a mistake. We finished a whole school year of lessons that way, getting through relatively little of the book. I considered continuing over the summer, but I was exhausted by the thought. So I put it aside.
In the fall of 2012, she started kindergarten. She was about six weeks shy of six years old when we picked up the book again. I thought about reviewing some of it with her but decided to see what she remembered if we just jumped right in. It was amazing. She finished an entire lesson (remember, we were only doing a third of a lesson the year before) without any complaining and much less wiggling. (She is naturally a very wiggly girl.) By the end of the year, we were often doing two lessons in less than ten minutes, and sometimes she would want to do more. As I write this, we're about thirty lessons from the end of the book.
Second Daughter is starting kindergarten in the fall, but if she behaves at all like First Daughter, I am going to put this book aside and wait. I've also decided to teach Second Daughter her phonograms using Doodling Dragons: An ABC Book of Sounds rather than the first twenty-six lessons in The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading. Those lessons were a little boring (though remember First Daughter was probably not ready for them when we started). I haven't used this book yet, so don't take this as a blanket recommendation.
There is only one thing I wish this book had: recommendations for early readers (preferably living books, of course) my child would be able to read as we go through the book. For example, after Lesson 124, there might be a list of books that use the phonics learned so far and maybe a few stretch words. I'm sure it could be done, but it would be a time investment. At this point, First Daughter could probably fly through a lot of the books First Son read after he finished Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.
I plan to follow The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading with Essentials (see my pre-review here) in first grade for First Daughter. The same organization is making a program designed to teach younger children to read that looks fantastic, but also a lot more expensive than The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading. If you anticipate having difficulty with a child learning to read, I would recommend checking it out. If I had unlimited homeschooling funds, I would be very tempted to buy it for the two who don't know how to read yet.