Thursday, June 26, 2014

Teaching Ella to Read

I should have written this post several months ago, but life got busy (doesn't it always?), and I never wrote it. So, here it is now . . .only a few months late.

When Ella was around 4 1/2 years old, I ventured into the task of teaching her to read. Though I'd never taught anyone to read, I really thought she was showing lots of signs of readiness, so I decided that we would begin the journey. I entered into the task with caution: if, for some reason, she wasn't ready I wasn't going to push it. She was still young when I began the process, and I didn't want to deter her from reading or learning in any way by pushing her if she wasn't ready.

I chose to use the book Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons as our curriculum (I've included a brief review at the end of this post). I made Ella a sticker chart to show her progress and help motivate her along the way. The first few lessons went well with Ella. Then, slowly, things started to get really frustrating. We were struggling through the lessons, and I was getting more and more frustrated. I really thought she could do the lessons (which only frustrated me more!), but just wasn't putting forth the right kind of effort to complete the lessons. So, around lesson 20 or so, we stopped. I decided to take a step back and reevaluate in a few months.

I'm SO glad we took a step back, and started again a few months later. Our lessons were like night and day compared to a few months earlier. She breezed through most lessons, and continued to be eager to learn more. That's not to say that there weren't times when we had tough lessons, but overall, our lesson time was much, much better. 

What was the difference in the few months time? Was Ella not really ready? When I reflect back to the first time that we tried to work on the lessons, I think the struggles with the lessons had a lot more to do with me than with Ella. It was my first time attempting anything like this, and I'm not sure that I had the right approach and attitude with Ella. I think she easily picked up on my frustration and that manifested in how she completed the lessons. When we started the second time, I started with a fresh attitude and more determined patience. I think my demeanor with her made a huge difference in the lessons.
And now, Ella can read! She finished the 100th lesson not long after she turned five years old. I was very pleased with how well she was reading when she completed all 100 lessons, and her reading has continued to progress even though the official lessons have stopped. I think the curriculum did a good job giving her the tools she needs to continue to grow in her reading ability.  

Here are my general thoughts about the curriculum Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons. I should note that I haven't looked at any other curriculums or programs for teaching reading, so I do not have anything to compare the program to. 

  • The book is inexpensive, and does not require any additional materials except some paper to do the sound writing portion.
  • The book was very easy for me to use to teach her. Everything was laid out - even down to the words I should say during each lesson.
  • The lessons were short. The book states that each lesson should only take about 15-20 minutes. There were many times Ella finished a lesson in about 10 minutes, but there were also some lessons that took her longer than 20 minutes. On average, most lessons did take about 15 minutes.
    • The lessons are also short enough that you can do more than one lesson a day, depending on your child. With Ella there were times she was especially eager to keep on, and it was nice to be able to move on to the next lesson.
    • It was also nice to know that if Ella was struggling with something, the lesson was short, and we didn't have to labor on for a long period of time.
  • The book incorporated pictures, questions for checking for comprehension, as well as writing as part of learning to read.
    • We frequently skipped the writing portion of the lessons. I think the writing portion is beneficial, but for Ella is wasn't always necessary.
  • I wasn't sure how to classify this, but I really liked the way the book teaches the student to sound the words out.
  • The lessons, particularly the first 25 or so, can be tedious until your child "gets" the method.
  • The names of the letters of the alphabet are not introduced until the very end of the book (letters are simply referred to using the sound they make). There is reasoning behind not using the letter names (and I understand that), but Ella already knew her letters prior to starting the curriculum, so we skipped parts of lessons at the end.
Overall, I really liked this curriculum, and plan to use it for Troy. I do think it will be interesting to see how Troy takes to the approach compared to Ella, because I think Ella's personality fit the curriculum well and Troy and Ella are quite different. : ) 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day!

I do not have the words to express how truly blessed our family is because of my husband, and his love as husband and father. His life constantly shows his love towards our family in everything from his leadership to his firm hand to his gentleness and compassion. Thank you for all you do and are for our family!

(Sometimes it is still hard to believe I've got a kid for each letter now!)

D-A-D photos from past years

This year, I had Ella and Troy answer questions for a Father’s Day questionnaire I found on Pinterest. Their answers (particularly Troy's) were, uh, interesting at times. : )
  • What is Daddy’s name? 
    • Ella: Daddy 
    • Troy: Trent
  • What does Daddy do for fun?
    • Ella: Play soccer outside
    • Troy: Sit down, I mean, play ball
  • What does Daddy do at work?
    • Ella: works
    • Troy: work
  • What are his favorite things to eat?
    • Ella: green beans and sweet potatoes
    • Troy: pickles, how about sandwiches with spicy stuff in it {I have absolutely NO idea where he got this answer from!}
  • What does he like to drink?
    • Ella: Dr. Pepper
    • Troy: Dr. Pepper
  • How old is Daddy?
    • Ella: 31
    • Troy: I can't remember; I can't even know
  • Where did you and Daddy meet?
    • Ella: when I was a baby
    • Troy: I can't remember, is it at McCarty?
  • How long have you know Daddy?
    • Ella: a long time
    • Troy: (reached to the sky)
  • How tall is Daddy?
    • Ella: (reached to the sky)
    • Troy: (stood up, pointed to the sky)
  • What is Daddy’s hair like?
    • Ella: tiny (showed with her fingers)
    • Troy: short
  • How much does Daddy weigh?
    • Ella: 80 lbs
    • Troy: reached to sky
  • What makes Daddy the best?
    • Ella: plays fight (wrestle) and plays ball and plays defense
    • Troy: cuz I love him
  • What is your favorite thing to do with Daddy?
    • Ella: play fight (wrestle)
    • Troy: play defense

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Happy 9 Months Luke!

Nine months! It seems like everyone lately has been commenting on how big you have gotten. Everyone also comments about how happy you are all the time, and, generally you are a very happy baby, though you definitely know how to let us know if you don't like something.

This month has brought big changes when it comes to your mobility. You've gone from getting up on all fours and rocking to inchworming across the room to finally actually taking crawling "steps."
Luke rocking from Lisa on Vimeo

Luke learning to Crawl June 5 from Lisa on Vimeo

You love, love, love to eat! And you eat a lot of food! You've only turned your nose up to one food - a puree of "garden vegetables," but I'm not sure I blame you since we gave it to you after you'd been eating some sweet fruit. You have a great pincer grasp, and do a really good job eating on your own. You also do a good job putting all eight of your teeth to work, chomping happily away!


This month you've learned how to clap and wave. You practiced your wave a lot when we were at Disney World when everyone was stopping to say "hi" to you! You also sometimes say something that sounds like "hi" when you wave, so I guess that would officially be your first word!

I'll write more about Disney in a different post, but you were a champ at Disney. You loved being outside, and even enjoyed meeting some of the characters.

20140518-IMG_9886.jpg Ella and Troy continue to love to play with you - they were especially excited to play with your new ball bopper with you. I'm thankful for the relationships that you have already formed with each of them.

Luke from Lisa on Vimeo.

Luke jumping may 2014 from Lisa on Vimeo.

Luke @ 8 months

Troy @ 9 months

(I didn’t start writing these monthly posts for Ella until she was 17 months old)