I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Rosetta Stone. I received a product and a promotional item to thank me for participating.
As a mom who is starting to homeschool, I sometimes regret my choice not to pursue early childhood education as an undergrad. I feel so clueless sometimes! Sure, I’ll be ready when my kids need grammar lessons or Shakespeare tutelage (I was an English lit major, after all!), but I feel a little lost and overwhelmed in the early years. (That seems a little backwards, right? Who stresses over preschool!?)
Thankfully, I believe strongly in play-based learning, and I find myself agreeing with child-led philosophies such as Charlotte Mason and Unschooling.
With that said, I’ve been a bit nervous about some of the big learning milestones–like algebra, chemistry, and learning to read.
Of course, even in my ignorance I know that reading to your child is one of the most beneficial things I can do to prepare her for reading on her own. If nothing else, it increases a child’s vocabulary and his/her love of books. Luckily, my preschooler is obsessed with books. We often have to issue “you can’t read books all day!” reminders. Our best reading time is after I put my little sister down for her nap. My four-year-old and I snuggle on the couch and read chapter books (this week’s choices were Winnie the Pooh, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and several “Jack and Annie” (The Magic Treehouse) books.
A few months ago, I stumbled across this “How to Teach Your Child to Read Early” post from Planet Smarty Pants. When my daughter started to show signs that she was ready to go beyond letter sounds, I put Natalie’s post to good use. We’ve been working through a few of the free printable options, and I think it’s safe to say that my four-year-old is officially reading! Or, to be more specific, she’s grasped the concept of decoding (the process of transferring printed words into a sound) . She’s known her letter sounds for quite some time, so it was just a matter of showing her that the letter sounds can be put together to form words.
She can now sound out (decode) basic three-letter words, which is basically the preschool equivalent of climbing Mount Everest. (At least in the eyes of this proud mama!) Who knew hearing words like pop, top, red, cat, and pig would ever make my heart melt?
(This picture was not staged. They were actually reading the dictionary.)
So where do we go from there? I asked on the Nothing if Not Intentional facebook page for advice on whether we needed a “whole language” approach, phonics, or something in between. For the most part, people recommended a combination of methods, which I hear is called “balanced literacy.” If these words are as foreign to you as they were to me, check out this explanation. In the course of asking for advice, several people recommended The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading and BOB books.
Last but not least, we’ve been experimenting with different online programs that offer phonics activities for preschoolers. We did a few searches and ended up with a few websites that were duds. You never know what you’re going to find through a search, right? Around this time, I was asked if I wanted to try out Rosetta Stone’s new online reading program. Um, YES! Yes, please! My four-year-old has been using this program at the end of quiet time. She loves the “Picture It” option, which focuses on one of her strengths–listening comprehension. The other options take a little more effort from her, and I’ve noticed that (left to her own devices) she’ll return over and over the “Picture It.”
I love the program buys me a few minutes to transition out of work mode (transition time isn’t just important to toddlers, folks!), AND she’s learning while I work.
This is definitely a program that will grow with her as she advances. In fact, since this program is for kids ages 3-7, she’s at the younger end of the spectrum.
If you’d like to download the demo for the first level of the program, you can do so here!
What other resources would you recommend for ordinary parents like me? I’m all ears!