Even though I have only been actively homeschooling Yip and Yap since last fall, we had started reading much earlier. When the boys were only four, about the winter of 2008 I found this book at the library, which I later bought off Amazon.
The title itself was intriguing...100 Easy Lessons? Not only that but the book claims that it can be done in only twenty minutes a day. Well, I was working with four year olds and although it worked very well for us, 100 days, 20 minutes a day wasn't nearly close to what we experienced.
Following are examples of three different lessons from the book.
Lesson 3 - starts easy enough learning sounds, not the names of letters. The names of the letters aren't introduced until all the sounds have been learned.
Lesson 50 - Halfway through the book. You'll notice the funny print? It's designed to help children learn the sounds and blends of letters. Lesson 100 - The last lesson of the book. Quite a long passage and actually there are two additional pages to this lesson.
The concept of this book on the whole is very sound and works well. Not only do they introduce sounds before letter names but they also teach sounding out words along side sight words. However, the book was moving along too fast for us. Most lessons towards the end of the book took two days for us to finish if we only worked twenty minutes a day. We stopped at lesson 80 and began using beginning reading books from the library. Luckily our library has a wonderful selection to choose from. They even have Dick and Jane books!
Now that we had gotten to the point of reading library books without the repetition of the lessons from the reading book, I noticed after a while the boys had gotten into the bad habit of only looking at the beginning sounds of a word and then guessing at what it was. For example, if the book had the word THERE, the boys would see the TH and say THE or THAT or THIS without looking at the end sounds.
To help combat this I created a flip sound book for each of them. I bought two small notebooks and cut the pages into three sections. On each page of the first section I wrote consanants; B, C, D, F, G, and so on. In the middle section I wrote vowels; A, E, I, O, U and Y. Then in the last section I wrote the consanants again. So when the book was flipped they had a simple word with three separate sounds like CUP below.
After working with the simple sounds for a couple weeks, I added consanant blends to the first and last sections and vowel combinations in the middle. An example is below.
Now I know, well at least I think I know, that "sparth" isn't a real word. The great thing about these flip books is the funny sound combinations the boys come up with which makes them seem more like games than reading.
One of the reasons I have pushed my boys to read before kindergarten is because I remember my own brothers in elementary school. (They graduated high school in 09, 08, 06) None of them enjoyed school and I don't think any of them enjoyed reading at all. I felt that if the boys could get ahead and have some confidence before starting school it may make school a whole lot easier. The writing post will be coming to you next week!
P.S.- I just started reading Why Boys Fail: Saving Our Sons from an Educational System That's Leaving Them Behind and it has confirmed to me that I'm on the right track and that my brothers were terribly unprepared by the public schools. Hopefully I can post more about this once I'm done reading the book.