In Part 1 of "How we Taught Our Boys to Read for Free!" I talked about how we instilled a love for reading in our children by reading to them and letting them see us reading. I also talked about a great FREE online reading program that we used that Joshua loved and Jacob is loving. If you haven't already read it, click here to go to "How we Taught Our Boys to Read for Free! Part 1".
3. The third thing that we did was we played reading games with our children. There are a lot of online reading games, but we liked to play reading games outside of computer time as well. Since we travel a lot - short distance and long distance - we have ample time in the car to play reading games. A couple of the most memorable were the "Sign Reading Game" and "The License Plate Game". In "The Sign Reading Game" we did just what the name implies, we read signs. Street signs, billboards, business signs - you name it and we read them. We would mix it up by asking if they can spot a sign with the word "big" in it or another small word. If Joshua couldn't read a word we would help him. We tried to make it fun and not a chore. "The License Plate Game" is very similar but we were reading the names of states and the state nicknames. We also bought small pocket atlases for our children and had them look up things. This taught word reading and map reading skills.
Those are just games that we played as we traveled. If you are more of a homebody then you can adapt them to your home. Make them read labels, book titles or movie titles that are sitting on the your shelf. You get the picture. Whatever you do, make it like a game and not like you are doing school work. If it's a game, then learning will be fun. It's amazing what your children will learn with just fun, simple, impromptu games.
4. We also made use of a lot of supplemental materials. Remember, I talked about a great FREE online reading program in Part 1? Well we found some great supplemental material that went right along with it. A good friend of ours was a retired school teacher. She happened to have a set of phonics books that were just sitting on her shelf so she decided to give them to us. In fact, it was really two sets of phonics books. Whenever a specific sound was introduced in our primary curriculum, I would pull out the corresponding books from our supplemental material. It worked great. Joshua wasn't reading the same story over and over again until he grasped the new sound or concept. Instead, we had other books that helped us practice.
I have used old reading series to help reinforce things in all grades with Joshua. If you have a good relationship with public school teachers in your church or community, ask them for a copy of one of their old reading series. I attribute John Allen's (my oldest) love for reading to all of the teachers that he had before we started homeschooling, but especially Mrs. Young, his second grade teacher. In our public school system, curriculum is reviewed and often replaced about every four or five years. When a new series is bought, the old series is sometimes just thrown away. Not in Mrs. Young's classroom! She would keep the old classroom set of books every time they changed to a new curriculum. She had been teaching a long time, so she had several sets of books on her shelf. Her kids didn't just read the story of the week from the books they were using that year, but they read other stories from other reading series as well. They were always reading and, at least with John Allen, it showed. He became an excellent reader and learned to love reading.
If you don't know of any public school teachers to ask, then ask the members of your homeschool group if they have books that you could borrow from a different company that the one that you are already using. If they don't, then perhaps use the library! Finally, if all else fails, search thrift shops, Salvation Army stores, Goodwill stores, or used book stores. You wouldn't believe what you can find if you keep your eyes open. And, they are usually dirt cheap - the next best thing to free!
5. There is one last way that I was able to receive free reading curriculum, but it won't be a method all of you will want to use. Soon after I began blogging, I found out about a great homeschool curriculum reviewing group called the Schoolhouse Review Crew from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. It was made up of a group of bloggers that would review homeschool products and blog about them to their readers. I tried out and was invited to join. I stayed with them for about five years and loved it! It blessed our family tremendously and, some of the products that we were given to review, really helped in teaching our kids to read. One product, Rocket Phonics, was a great help when Joshua seemed to hit a rock wall in his reading. It was a real break through. Reading Eggs was a fantastic program that taught Jacob the basics when he was in pre-school. Really these weren't free in a sense, because I had to use, research and blog about the products, but, we didn't have to pay monetarily for them.
I'm telling you about this method because, well, it was a way that we taught our kids to read without paying any money. But, maybe you aren't a blogger or don't want to review homeschool products. What can you do in that case? Well, as I mentioned before, why not ask members of your homeschool group if they have any reading series that you could borrow or trade for? Perhaps they have a reading curriculum that wasn't a good fit for them, but would be for you and vice versa. Or maybe they are done with something and have no more children coming up that could use it. Perhaps you could work out a deal or trade. Again, utilize your thrift stores and used book stores. The Homeschool Buyers Coop is also a great way that you can buy homeschool material at a big discount because they use group buying power to their advantage.
Well, that is how we taught our kids to read for FREE! I hoped it help give you some ideas for how you could teach your kids for free or at least very cheaply. Please feel free to leave a comment and share how you taught your kids to read. I'd love to hear from you.