Phonics Fun

alphabats

Dragon-tamer caught the reading bug early. After learning the alphabet with a little help from the Alphabats books, all I had to do really was read a lot to him, help him learn a few sight words with Ladybird Key Words, and by book 4a he was off into the brave new world of easy-readers.

Pony-rider, on the other hand, has been a little bit more complicated to teach. In addition to trying the Ladybird Key Words reading scheme, we’ve used Alphabats, Letterland, Jolly Phonics (lots of Jolly Phonics, in fact: Board books, to introduce the letter sounds, the Phonics Handbook, and the Jolly Phonics ‘Read and See’ series – two packs of books with 12 titles in each: quite cute, but not enough to tempt her…). We tried Sonlight’s “I Can Read It” (what was I thinking of? Thorough, certainly, but nowhere near high-interest enough, at least as far as illustrations are concerned!). I even looked into Ruth Miskin books and Debbie Hepplethwaite’s “Synthetic Phonics” (current favourite of the UK National Curriculum people) but it didn’t seem to offer anything new. Finally, and reluctantly, after many recommendations, I thought I would try “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons”.

Not only does this US scheme use small print in so many colours it makes me feel dizzy, it infuriatingly tells me exactly what I must say to the child. I can’t stand it! Neither can Pony-rider, although Motor-biker who is almost 2 years behind her absolutely loves it! The ‘say-it-fast’ concept really appeals to him, and he has no trouble now with the idea of blending letters together into a word.

Hmm. Now we have a problem: Pony-rider’s self-esteem has taken a blow, and although I have always tried to avoid making learning to read a big issue, the fact that Motor-biker is fast over-taking her is not popular! So I’ve been on the lookout again for something new. What I’ve found is My World’s “Now I’m Reading” by Nora Gaydos and illustrated by BB Sams. (Another US programme, so watch out for different spellings, not to mention alternative words: ‘Rooster’ for ‘Cockerel’, and ‘fox kit’ instead of ‘fox cub’.) We have the ‘pre-reader’ set, aimed at ages 3-6, which comes in a cute case with 10 books and a set of 40 stickers.

Presumably, this ‘pre-reader’ set is designed for the parent to read to the child rather than for the child to read, but Pony-rider is absolutely smitten! She read right through the whole set the first day I showed it to her, totally without my prompting! The other sets are as follows: level 1: short-vowel sounds, basic consonant sounds; level 2: long vowel sounds, reinforcement of set 1; level 3: consonant blends, double consonants; level 4: multi-syllable words & compound words and finally, Independent: high interest topics, using previous skills. The blurb on the back says: “the greatest success comes from a balance of phonics and literature-based reading: Now I’m Reading! ™ successfully combines both to build confident, independent readers”. Well, I’m amazed, but I have to concur! I’m not sure that we’ll bother with the other sets though…

 

This post was originally posted on the Svengelska Hemskolan blog, and while this is a good few years old and we encountered more hurdles and pitfalls on the road to reading, this is a good reminder that each child is different, and home education affords the possibility of tailoring your approach and resources to their individual needs and styles of learning.

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Barnkammarboken

barnkammarboken

When Stora Pojken was little, we were given a beautiful book called “Blå Barnkammarboken” which roughly translates the Blue bed-time book.

When we went to lessons at the Swedish school, one of the teachers was using another, Silver bed-time book of songs which included a CD, and a few weeks ago when I was looking for resources for learning Swedish, I discovered there is now a whole range of books in the series, ranging from anthologies for very young children right through to ghost stories for older children.

When we got our copy of Blå barnkammarboken, they didn’t include CDs, but I have found a place online where you can listen to samples and buy MP3s here. [note, that’s not the link that was in the original post, but that’s lost, can’t find it again.]

Track 3 is a little song called “Små grodorna”, and it goes like this:

“Små grodorna, små grodorna är lustiga att se,
Små grodorna, små grodorna är lustiga att se,
ej öron, ej öron, ej svansar havar de,
ej öron, ej öron, ej svansar havar de,
ku-ack-ack-ack, ku-ack-ack-ack, ku-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack,
ku-ack-ack-ack, ku-ack-ack-ack, ku-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack!
Små grodorna, små grodorna är lustiga att se,
Små grodorna, små grodorna är lustiga att se”

And the translation:

“The little frogs, the little frogs are funnny to see,
The little frogs, the little frogs are funny to see!
No ears, no ears, no tails have they,
No ears, no ears, no tails have they!
(And then they sing the Swedish equivalent of ‘rebbit’ or ‘croak’ or whatever it is that English frongs say – ku-ack-ack-ack!
The little frogs, the little frogs are funny to see!”

It’s an absolute must-learn traditional Swedish Dagis nursery rhyme, and you’re really not culturally literate in Sweden without knowing it!

Roligt, va!

Over to you:

Which language(s) are you learning / teaching in your homeschool?

If you or your children are learning an obscure language, how and where are you finding resources and community to help you learn?

New Start for 2016 #homeed

1teddyrow

I’m still pondering and planning the specific details of what our home education will look like for the new term and the new year. But I think now is a good time for a re-think, so I’m starting with a new look and I’ve moved the virtual ‘furniture’ around a bit. (what do you think?!)

I don’t often post many links or photos because I am generally posting from my phone (it’s not impossible but it’s fiddly) – my health issues make laptop use too taxing. So I know plain text can be boring, but bear with me!

The last five years have been really hard for us as a family and disruptive to any idea of neat or formal, smoothly run education at home. We have moved 4 times officially (6 times if you count the three months when we were temporarily re-housed after flooding) amongst other things.

The situation now is that we’re squeezed into a smaller house with no garage or garden, and not allowed to use the loft space because we are renting, so a lot of our stuff including most of our books, is still in storage. We will either have to move again or do without the books indefinitely.

Whereas I thought we would be sorted and settled by now, we’re far from it and can expect more disruption to come. So I think that we can’t expect to have a normal, formal, ‘school at home’ experience any time soon, and perhaps that’s not what we need anyway. More on that next time.

~

Our hard times have coincided with a relative lull in hostilities between the government and the home education community, thankfully, because we are battle-weary and I know we are not the only family to feel that way.

But now the government has made their intentions clear, with Nicky Morgan announcing that a new review into home education may be necessary to ensure that we aren’t ‘radicalising’ our children by pretending to home educate while using illegal schools «sigh» so we are (not) looking forward to dealing with that next year.

Since the last skirmish, battle-weary as we have been, we have kept our heads down. I avoided posting home education links to my facebook, not wanting to offend (or bore) people. I even created a separate twitter account for home education.

However, now I think the time has come to raise our heads again and stand up proudly to say that as home educators, we are doing a respectable and honourable (though still unusual) thing, and despite the government’s continued attempts to unjustly slander us one way or the other, we are doing nothing worthy of government interference. We’re not invisible, and the government already has plenty of powers to deal with illegal schools as well as home educators that might happen to break the law in any way, without curtailing the liberty of the rest of us.

For any who are in doubt, Home education is a legal option; indeed it is the legal default option, and it always has been, since even parents who use schools retain the responsibility for educating their children, and the government’s attempts to shut us down by conflating us with illegal schools, just like all their other spurious claims, is completely unjustified.

Over to you:

Do you have any questions about home education?

I will attempt to post more often with details of what we do as part of our home education lifestyle, connections to the wider community (both locally and nationally), books and resources we use, interests we pursue, places we go and activities we engage in.

If you are a home educator, what are your plans for raising the positive profile of home education in 2016?