Warning: read no further unless you're interested in my completely shameless bragging about my daughter...
I'm thrilled to say that Georgie is now, in my opinion, a real reader!! Yes, at just a few days over 4-1/2 yrs old she is now comfortably reading beginning chapter books!! Don't get the wrong impression, Georgiana, while bright, is not a super baby genius or anything. Her reading ability has not been accomplished without a lot of consistent effort on both our parts. Nevertheless, she is a READER!
By the time G was 3 to 3-1/2 she knew all her letters (capital and lowercase) and sounds. She was starting to understand the concept that linking sounds together made words and that when you put words together they make sentences and tell a story. She also had a good attention span. It was obvious that she was ready to move forward so, about a year ago, I started looking for some decent materials to teach her to read. What I found was that most of the beginner reading books (BOB, etc) were imo too difficult and moved too quickly. After spending a long time online reading amazon reviews, scouring a couple of homeschooling forums and giving it lots of thought, I finally chose The Reading Lesson: Teach Your Child to Read in 20 Easy Lessons.
About November of last year we opened The Reading Lesson book and began. When we started we spent about 5 mins a day working on her reading book. She liked it and would often bring it to me in the morning so we could do a little extra. As her endurance increased we moved up to spending about 10-15 mins a day working through the lessons. The 20 lessons are not intended to be completed in 20 days :-) Instead each lesson presents one or more phonics concepts. Sometimes it would take 7-10 days to finish a lesson, sometimes we'd move through it in 5 or 6. It just depended on how busy we were and how quickly G absorbed the phonics lessons presented. We had some setbacks most notably when we went on vacation in Feb. We were gone almost 3 weeks and although we brought the book with us, we only did it a couple of times. It did cause some backslide but we didn't stress about it, we'd just move forward.
Georgie finished the lesson book in about May or so which was pretty much in line with the 6 mos I anticipated would be required. After that we moved on to Step Readers. Step 1's were already too easy but we spent a month or so on Step 2's and quickly moved to Step 3's. About a month ago G realized that she could read. This was kind of a big moment for her and I think she had a decent understanding of the magnitude of the milestone. She began reading everything, everywhere and she liked it A LOT!
Next step was to move on to chapter books. This presented another challenge. Most of the beginning chapter books (they're apparantly called "transitional" books in the education world) are directed toward the 5-6 yr old crowd. G's mature enough for 4-1/2 but she's not a kindy or 1st grader and doesn't have the same experience. I needed to find something at the right level of difficulty that would appeal to her interests. Again, I scoured the internet forums, read amazon reviews and then, as I commonly do, posted a question on Rumor Queen to ask people's opinions. There's a wealth of knowledge there (lots of teachers and homeschooling parents) and most of them directed me to the Rainbow Magic fairy books.
This book series couldn't be more perfect for Georgie. The vocabulary is decent and the stories are light hearted ones about happy little girls who encounter fairies and other fanciful creatures. Almost everyone in the stories are good and nice. There are some bad guys ie goblins but they're not scary just silly. G was excited about reading them!
The first chapter took us about 3 mornings to work through (about 30 mins total). There was so much new about them: the font was smaller than she was used to, many more contractions, longer sentences, and even the concept of having to turn the page to complete a sentence. G acclimated quickly though and by the third or fourth chapter she could read one a day (about 10-12 mins). Best of all is that she enjoyed the story!
Monday, July 23, 2012 --G finished her first chapter book, Katie the Kitten Fairy, and boy was she proud of herself! I'm proud of her too :-)