As far back as I can recall Mira has had an interest in books and words. Even as an extremely young baby she would listen contentedly for long stretches of time as her father and I took turns reading to her.
By the time Mira was 3 years old she was blending certain letters and could recognize more than a few words by sight. When she was 4 years old, I picked up the book, The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading (OPGTR). I wanted a thorough approach and systematic way of teaching phonics and this book fit the bill. It consists of 231 lessons which we began in April 2011. Our “lessons” were done daily on Mondays-Fridays and took about 5-10 minutes day. We would review an old lesson and do one or two new ones. Towards the end of the book, as the words increased in difficulty, we would complete one lesson every two days.
Mira called our lessons “reading-cuddle-time” as they were primarily done while cuddled together on our couch. We were able to skip the first section of the book since she already knew her letters and sounds thanks to numerous viewings of Leap Frog Letter Factory and some fun activities from an old Sing, Spell, Read, and Write book I had left over from my days teaching early education.
OPGTR is a scripted resource so anyone can easily- and comfortably- begin laying the foundation for strong reading skills with young children.
There are additional activites suggested in the book that you may or may not feel the need to utilize. I didn’t really do any of them with Mira but just stuck with the scripted lessons. Mira has a great attention span and would happily sit with me those 5-10 minutes even though the book has no pictures or colorful illustrations; but I can see how beneficial those additional games and activities would be if you had a wiggly child who enjoys a more tactical approach to learning.
As we progressed in the book, Mira learned to break down long and intimidating words into pieces so that she could sound it out. She would pretend to be a detective like the great Basil of Baker Street and tackle each word as its own mystery.
The last few lessons in the book really increased in difficulty and I wondered if Mira would feel intimidated by such large multi-syllable words. When I showed her the page I offered to sound it out with her. “Why?” she asked. “Don’t I break it apart just like 4 or 5 syllable words?” And off she read.
This book has been such a staple in our daily routine that Mira was a bit saddened to hear that there is not a Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading 2. I offered a bit of a consultation prize by way of a rare treat. McDonald’s is currently offering Shamrock Shakes. Green minty milkshakes! Seeing as how Mira lives and breathes the color green almost as much as her sister lives and breathes the color pink I decided we would indulge in celebratory milkshakes.
After our sweet treat we topped off our day with another refreshing reward – an early spring swim.
Related post – Starting Stella on OPGTR April 2012