Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Reading Lessons

My daughter has expressed an interest in reading for the last year (she is now 4 1/2).  I had thought about teaching her myself but had no idea where to begin, did not want to teach her wrong, and wanted it to be a pleasant experience.  My sister-in-law suggested using the book, "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" (A DISTAR method) which she successfully used with her daughter and son before they started kindergarten.  I purchased the book and we started about two months ago.

We are now on the Lesson #40 and this is what she is reading:
It has been amazing to see how far she has come in the past two months, and how much she looks forward to our "reading lessons" every day (quality time).  The lessons now only take about 15 minutes - it took a little longer at first, but I think that is primarily due to learning and following very specific and exact instructions that you will use throughout the entire book/process.

From the very first lesson, you are not only teaching the child how to read, but to write.  The final task at the end of each lesson is to practice writing two sounds.  This method also teaches comprehension, as there are always questions that you ask after they read a segment, and a corresponding picture that is revealed after they finish reading the story (upon which you ask more questions). 

I love that the only additional materials you need (other than the book itself) is paper and a pencil.  There is also a script that you follow (written in red) so you don't veer from the method.  The end of the book includes a section on how to transition your reader to children's books they can read (successfully) on their own and how to teach additional sound combinations.

I am planning on supplementing with some beginning sight words (yet to be determined - suggestions welcome) and have recently found this website with free printable handwriting pages and word cards that correlate directly with the lessons in this book.

If this is something that you are interested in/thinking of doing I'll offer the following suggestions:
-Borrow the book from your local library and read the introduction - this will give you a good idea of the how the method works and if it is something that will benefit your child. 

-Look for signs of readiness prior to starting (this is addressed in the intro of the book) and if things are not running smoothly, stop for a few months and try again (we attempted once before and it became a chore - we stopped, waited a few months and tried again . . . and what a difference it made - she wants to do them first thing each morning). 

-Be consistent.  Our greatest success came when we started doing the lessons the same time and in the same place every day.  We also took a 2 week break because we were traveling/vacationing and it wasn't impossible to get back into it, but took a little while for my daughter to focus the way she did prior to the trip.  It is also very important to follow the script in the book - veering from it could cause confusion later on.

-Be patient.  The book states that most lessons will only take about 15 minutes - and they will - but not at first.  They take a little longer in the beginning - and it may seem that the tasks are simple, or that your child could do more - but there is an exact method to follow that builds upon the beginning framework which will make the lessons last 15 minutes or less as you progress.

-Have fun!  Most parents have a desire that their children will love to read, and I think we can help them not only in loving to read ourselves and reading to them, but in making learning to read a fun and enjoyable process.  Using this book/method has been fun for us. 


  1. My mom has this book and used it for my brother, now 9, and is using it for my sister who is 4 1/2. My daughter, 4, saw my sister (they're practically sisters!) reading and wanted to really bad so I've been thinking about getting it. Thanks so much for the review! It was very helpful!

  2. The Ready2Read program from http://moffattgirls.blogspot.com/ is a really cool sight word program.

  3. hooray for O! glad she's enjoying it. during C's first half day in kindergarten last week, their reading skills were assessed, and one teacher asked her if she'd like to go to 1st grade! that book worked wonders!!

    M is now doing the lessons too - he's around lesson #25 and is going through phases of wanting to do it, then not wanting to. he's been MUCH less motivated to do it than C, but he's moving along. also with C, we skipped the handwriting part completely - she got frustrated so easily if the sounds/letters weren't written EXACTLY as they should be. and her handwriting has been just fine. doing the writing part with M though, is a good idea. :)


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