Wednesday, March 4, 2015

How We Taught Our Boys to Read for Free! Part 1

. . .or pretty close to it!

Believe it or not, homeschool parents do worry about the education of their children. At least I do. I know that some folks think that homeschool kids just sit around all day and/or get inferior education. Perhaps that is so in some cases, but a vast majority of homeschool parents really do want to make sure their kids are learning. One of my biggest worries is if my children are going to learn how to read, write and at least be able to do basic math. If they can do those things then the rest will come.

I worry about the basics.

John Allen went to public school for kindergarten through third grade. His basics were taught by some wonderful teachers. Joshua and Jacob, however, are different stories. Their education is entirely on mine and Sarah's shoulders. When Joshua first started school, teaching him to read was a very important thing for me. We found a great kindergarten curriculum for him and Sarah worked with him for a year. At that time we knew that he had some problems but he hadn't been officially diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome. It was slow going but Sarah was able to build a good phonics foundation for him. That kindergarten curriculum was the only thing we ever actually bought to help teach him to read. Yet, today he is a prolific reader. How did we do it? Let me tell you how.

1. First of all, from when they were babies, we instilled in them a love of reading. We read to our kids. Not just age appropriate, but also above level books. I'm not talking about reading Shakespeare to my toddler, but I am talking about books such as The Boxcar Children to my boys when they were pre-school age or The Chronicles of Narnia when they were young elementary age.

Your kids also need to see you reading. Read anything and everything (obviously within reason). Read the newspaper, magazines, good books. . .and make sure you are reading in front of them. Not only read in front of them, but sometimes even discuss what you are reading with them. It's amazing what you can discuss with a toddler or elementary school student. Obviously you can't have deep conversations, but you can talk about some things. If you are excited about reading, then they will be excited about reading.


2. Probably the thing that we used the most with Joshua and are presently using with Jacob is probably the simplest, and, it is free - a great online reading program called Starfall. Starfall has a myriad of things to do at all levels. You can do things online, or you can print things out. Since Joshua already knew his letter sounds, we started him at the second section - "Learn to Read". We chose to print out the small books and the corresponding worksheets and used the online things as a supplement. The 15 levels began with the short vowel sounds, progressed to long vowel sounds and so on. The corresponding worksheets were easy to use and went right along with the lesson. Starfall does have a membership area where you pay a small fee to join, but we never went that route. There were plenty of activities to keep him busy without joining.

Tomorrow, I will fill you in on what extra free things we used alongside of Starfall and beyond. I'll also fill you in on ways that you can get excellent reading curriculum for free or almost free. Until then, click here or on any of the highlighted links above to check out all of the things that Starfall has to offer.

Click here to get to part two!

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