Friday, March 30, 2012

Early Readers

One of the things I am most proud of in regards to my teaching abilities, is that both of my children learned to read at age three! Little Bear just started reading this month and I am so excited!
When I first debated homeschool, I wasn't sure that I could do it during the primary years. I knew I could do it beginning at third grade because I was a third grade teacher. I knew I could do it up through high school, because I loved school and was an excellent student! But those first few years (the ones I am in!) gave me the jitters  - and still do on every other day!
My biggest fear was teaching my children to read. Why? Because I learned to read at three years old and I could not remember ever learning. According to my memory, I have always known how to read. So how do you teach someone how to do something you don't remember learning?
Well, I must have figured it out! It wasn't really as difficult as I thought. Here's what I did:
1) Teach them to sing the ABCs and READ TO THEM everyday.
2) MUST HAVE: ABC flashcards. Pick two to three letters to start off with (those in their name work great because they associate it with themselves!)
3) Keep reviewing the same cards every day until they can tell you the name of the letter and the sound it makes. Little tunes can help as well. I always sang the "the (B) says (b), the (B) says (b), every letter has a sound, the (B) says (b)." When they can get all of them right, add a few more cards to your stack. Keep doing this everyday until they can do the whole alphabet.
4) Teach them to blend two sounds together slowly, such as M and A say "mmmmmmaaaaaaaa." Then have them try it fast, "ma." Practice, practice, until they get the concept! Form as many consonant-vowel blends as you can!
5) Begin sounding out two to three letter words the same way, slow then fast. Using a phonics reader is a great resource. I find it helpful to use post-it notes to cover the picture until they have read the word. This stops them from guessing the word and it gives them some incentive to read the word in order to see the picture. I have found A Beka Book Kindergarten readers to be very good. Once again, practice, practice, practice!
6) Your child is reading! Now just practice! Give them as much to read as possible! Only move up in reading level when your child is able to read fluently through a particular level of books on the first time. Also remember to demonstrate a love for reading. This is contagious and will help them to become better readers!

My Readers!

That has been my method, tried and true on two three year olds - a girl and a boy.  What have you found that works?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Confessions of a Bad Homeschool Mom

Confession time:
Over the last six months, I have attempted to homeschool, work part time, take care of my home, and partner with my husband in youth ministry. I burned out and was not doing well in any of these areas. Last week was my last day of work. My husband and I decided that homeschooling and ministry were priorities and I needed to devote my time to these, despite the financial loss we would have. We both knew God would provide, that was without a doubt. I just needed to get my priorities right.

What the school attitude in our house has been:
Sit down. Push, push, push to stay focused and get the work done. Quickly! No time for the fun little extras...just get done what we had to.
I told you it was confession time. Not pretty, is it? As if I had forgotten why I chose to homeschool in the first place!
It broke my heart when my daughter, who started school early and has always LOVED doing school, begged to do school when it wasn't school time, said to me, "I don't like school." Crush!

As I said, last week was my last day of work.  There isn't much more school left for us for this year, so here is my goal: over the summer, I want to do some awesome learning activities that are totally FUN based. And I want to plan and build for next school year. I want to research and plan and organize and create and get my kids completely excited about a new year. My daughter is going to start 2nd grade and I want it to be the best school year ever.
So I am going to share all of my findings and experiences right here with you! I would love for you to follow along, learn from my mistakes (hopefully there won't be too many!) and my successes!

I didn't always start out as a bad homeschool mom. I just let myself get sidetracked. So here is my story of how I get back on track and get my daughter to love school again!