4 out of 4… I’m Golden

As it happened, I have completed the task every homeschool mother wonders if she will be capable, able and successful at finishing: teaching your children to read.  My first daughter was subjected to a charter school for kindergarten and grade one (that’s how we say it in Canada… not first grade) and I did not have the joy of teaching her to decipher the alphabet code.  But I figured, HEY!  How hard could it be???  Well, son number one, who followed daughter number one, had a brain that was wired quite the opposite of my first child reader.  She read with ease at five years old.  When my son turned five he was quite proficient at spitting, throwing rocks, yelling and doing everything at the same rate as Speedy Gonzales.  Reading was not on his list of interests….. until he was almost NINE!  Made me wonder if the kid would ever read.  Sheesh!  What good is a teaching certificate if you can’t even teach a kid to sound out three letter words?  Or simply remember the letter F?  Eventually some synapses connected in his overactive brain and he could read.  It happened while we were on a three month sick-leave trip touring national parks on the west side of the United States.  It had nothing to do with me.

Son number two actually read before son number one.  Assuming that this would provoke determination in son number one was completely incorrect on my part.  Son number one read after he had successfully toured Zion, Yosemite, Walnut Canyon, Fort Bowie and 14 other parks, caves and forts.  Had I known the national park tour was a prerequisite to his reading ability, we would have taken the trip three years earlier.  See?  Nothing to do with me.

Last week, I had the joy and privilege of teaching the Colombian princess to read.  She has been diligently learning her English phonograms and we have completed the first 26 of 72.  She asked me in frustration, “When am I ever going to be able to read WORDS?!?”  It was then that I realized she probably could with her vast knowledge of phonograms.  I put three phonogram cards together… c…….a……..t.  She sounded them out three or four times before her eyes popped open and she pronounced in her amazing reading ability, “CAT!”  Then we went through run, ran, hat, dot, hop, up, pop, cup, mop, tip, sip, and, hit, and even jump!  She was so excited she could not stop giggling!  I called for her sister and brothers to come and listen to her READ!  Her dimples were showing the rest of the day! It truly is a joy to see her succeeding by leaps and bounds and she hasn’t even been speaking English for 6 months yet.  It is also a true joy to be able to teach her. 

Back in the day when I taught kindergarten to several classes of German speaking kids, they did learn to read and I was proud of them for learning English and reading…. but nothing compares to it being your own kid who has broken the scribble code and can make sense of the English written language.

Four out of four.  I’m golden!

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4 Responses to “4 out of 4… I’m Golden”

  1. homeschoolhappymess Says:

    Congratulations! I have loved the joy and exhilaration of teaching my children to read. I have one left to go and I am looking forward to teaching him as well. I can imagine how thrilled you must be!

  2. Judy O'Halloran Says:

    Hi, Linda,

    Your daughter’s eagerness to read WORDS is just why I (and Wordy Worm Reading) suggest teaching the vowel digraph phonograms (we call them the sail away funograms because they go together and are part of a story about sailing) right after or along with the single sound consonant phonograms. When I was tutoring elementary and middle school students and teaching the phonograms in the “typical” order, I was frustrated by the lack of retention and the less than exciting manner in which they are “typically” presented. (Therefore, I had to be other than typical.)

    So when I had grandchildren and started working with them at a very early age, I wanted it to be fun, fun, fun as well as creating a strong foundation for their future reading. That’s when Wordy Worm life. Combining the phonograms with ditties and gestures helped to memorize them and make them fun to do.

    There are two reasons I go to the “sail away funograms” early on. First these seven phonograms (ai, ay, eight, ee, igh, oa, oe) make only one sound each. So when the Columbian Princess blends her sounds, she doesn’t have to worry about whether the vowel is short or long. All sail away phonograms make the long vowel sound.

    The next reason is that when you combine the single sound consonants (b,d,f,h,j,k,l,m,n,p,qu,r,t,v,w,z) with the sail away vowels you can create a list of almost 200 words.

    From there you can create your own “controlled vocabulary” readers and the Columbian Princess has gone from reading WORDS to reading BOOKS. Talk about exciting!!!

    I invite you to visit Wordy at WordyWormReading.com and see more of the fun things we do. We have lots of support materials for our Wordy HomeSchool Community members.

    Your children are very lucky to have you as a mom and a teacher! God bless.

    • rixgal Says:

      That’s awesome, Judy. I’ve never heard them called the sail away vowels. I’ll have to check that out. I use the Spalding method with the W.I.S.E. Guide as my plans. I am totally impressed with the results and I have filled in all the gaps of my own lame grammar knowledge. :o)

  3. Judy O'Halloran Says:

    Hello “Rix”
    “Sail away” is a term we coined. We also have the Bossy r phonograms; the My Chick Phonograms and so forth. By grouping them for instructional purposes, and then putting them into a story, it helps the children (and the parents!) remember them.

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