Every baby is a gift, even if the wrapping is a little different.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Our School Journey, Part 1

I homeschooled my son for kindergarten and first grade and planned to put him in first grade (holding him back a year) when we enrolled him in our local public school in Colorado.

We decided that I should homeschool him so that I could give him a solid foundation in phonics and reading. I worked with him every day. I had homeschooled most of my other kids for kindergarten and taught them to read based on a well-researched phonics program that our elementary school used. Some of my kids went into first grade reading several years above their grade level. I wanted to make sure I sent them into school reading so none of them would fall through the cracks, because if you can read, you can do anything.

I wanted my son to read like his siblings. I worked on teaching him phonics but it didn't seem to make sense to him. With my other kids, we learned phonics then moved onto sight words using phonics to decode words. My son was different. I had to change what I'd done with my other kids. Instead of learning phonics first, the reverse was true. He needed to learn sight words first.

We worked on sight words. I bought sight word based reading programs. I made flash cards out of index cards. I labeled every day items like fork, spoon, plate, stove, bathroom, etc. I made flashcards for family member's names (remember, I have 10 kids, so learning all the names was no small feat for him). We did flashcards for animal names, colors, numbers, nouns. We read lots of books.

After a while, he started to pick up on phonics, so I switched gears and we worked on the sounds that each letter makes. Some of the letters, like f and v, were harder for him to say, but it didn't take him too long to learn all the letters. He began decoding unfamiliar words. He began reading signs on the road as we drove to town. He read titles of books and he started actually reading sentences inside the books.

We also worked on the computer. He did Raz Kids (subscription), Looney Tunes Phonics (subscription), and Starfall (free). He also worked with www.abcya.com (free), which has all sorts of programs for all grade levels.

I did all of this in hopes of preparing him to enter public school.

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