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Thursday, 30 June 2016

All About Reading & Spelling

When my eldest had just turned 4, I began to teach him to read. We were considering home education, and I thought that doing a little gentle phonics each day would give me a bit of a feel for what home education would be like. I knew he was young to begin, and I didn't have huge expectations, but I started anyway.

I bought a Jolly Phonics book, and used the activities, work sheets and flash cards in it. It worked. Within a short period of time, he was reading fluently and beginning to write and spell well. He found reading and spelling unusually easy - which certainly made life easy for me too.

With my second son, I used the same Jolly Phonics material. He learned in a slow and steady fashion, and became a very good reader with a love of books. He struggled, however, with spelling. It wasn't dreadful by any means, but it was an area that we were constantly reviewing. Looking back, a more thorough programme would have been hugely beneficial.

It was clear, however, that my third son would need a completely different approach. He had a significant speech problem. He struggled to hear the different sounds, and there were many sounds he couldn't say at all. When he was 5, he still didn't say any sound clusters at all (tr, fr, bl, cl, etc.). On the advice of a speech therapist, I held off teaching him to read at all until he was nearly 6 and his speech had begun to improve significantly.

Once he was ready to learn to read, I decided that the Jolly Phonics resources I had used in the past would be insufficient. A friend was using All About Spelling, and after looking at the material online, I decided it would be worth investing in All About Reading for my son.

I began with the Kindergarten material, as this covered working on hearing the sounds at a very simple level, which I thought would help my son. Once we had completed this level, we plunged into All About Reading level 1. I am very impressed with this curriculum. It is extremely thorough, and gives a child all the skills they need to decode words. There is plenty of review built in, and you can go at the right pace for your child.

There are flashcards, both for individual phonograms, and for a selection of words that the child should be able to decode.

Flascards

There are activity books (consumable) which have a variety of games and fluency sheets to help your child practise and practise their reading skills.

An Activity

Readers are also included. The stories are varied, and, importantly, are all completely decodable by your child if you follow the curriculum. My son finds this very satisfying.

A Book From Level 4

The Text

In addition, there are magnetic tiles which are used to help your child divide up individual words into syllables which can be read using phonics rules.

Magnetic Tiles on a Whiteboard

This is not a cheap option, but in my opinion it is worth the investment. Everything is included, and it is a very thorough phonics programme.

My now 7 year old has flown using this material. We are now part way through the 4th and final level, and he reads everything in sight. He tries to sing the songs at church, and reads the Bible to himself during his devotions. He is reading Stig of the Dump to himself (though slowly). It is astonishing to see. His speech has also improved as he has learned to read words with the correct sounds.

Once we had completed level 1 of  All About Reading, we began to use All About Spelling too. Again, this has been very effective, and my 7 year old is now very happy writing letters to friends and relatives with minimal help, and reasonable spelling.

In addition, his older brother now joins him for spelling lessons, and there has been a very marked improvement in his spelling since.

I am extremely happy with these resources. They are fairly expensive, and very time intensive for me, but they work for us. It is a joy to see my son reading and loving reading; well worth the time and money invested.

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