Monday, October 11, 2010

Teaching Farm Boy to Read

I am not really into the whole "teach your baby to read" thing. If that's what boils your potato, go ahead, but it isn't me. I would rather just read them lots and lots of books than mess around with flash cards! I was quite content to leave it until my children were at least seven before starting to teach then how to read.

My children, however, had other ideas.

At age 3 and a half, Princess Doc started asking me to teach her to read. Daily. For weeks on end. So I did and she is currently (at age 6) working toward her aim of reading 100 books in 50 days to raise money for a chosen charity (more on that in a later post). She read 15 books this afternoon.

Thinking she was a bit of a freak, in the nicest possible way, I cautioned Papa Bear and various other friends and relatives not to compare the younger ones to her freaky deaky reading brilliance and let them learn in their own time - even if it wasn't until they were over the age of 7.

Sure enough, Farm Boy turned 3 and a half and what did he start doing?

Asking me to teach him to read.


For months.

So I thought we'd document how we are going about teaching Farm Boy to read.

The kicker with Farm Boy is that he did not yet know all of his letters when he wanted to start reading. I could have insisted that he learn letters first, but his passion was reading WORDS thank-you - specifically, reading the orange Fitzroy readers he saw his sister start reading. To me, insisting he learn ALL his letters was a little like telling someone that they must sing every note pitch perfect before learning to sing Baa Baa Black Sheep. Talk about killing the joy!

So we learned letters on the fly while reading words.

I read the reader to him, sounding out the letters. Then we read it together. After this, we got out some little cards with letters on them that are a part of a spelling game we have (scrabble tiles would work too) and made a couple of the words that are in the readers using the cards. We would name the letter, say the sound that it made then put it down in the pile. Then we would select letters from the pile to make words like "cat" and "hat".

All up this entire process would take about ten minutes a day.

I also made sure we caught Sesame Street each morning and added lots of alphabet books to our read aloud times.

When Farm Boy started to get more confident with this, I added a double page spread of the alphabet in lower case and a double page spread of the alphabet in upper case to his Chair Time Book (yet another post to be written there, suffice to say it is a display book that we look through each day as we snuggle in my Snuggle Spot) and he would sing the alphabet through as he pointed to the letters. I would then ask him to find three or four specific letters on the pages. Because Farm Boy seems to be predominantly a kinesthetic learner I would grab his hand and draw a giant letter in the air as I asked him something like "Can you find a wibble wobble W that says 'wuh'?" I'd also get him to make the sound too so the physical movement of 'writing' the letter in the air, the physical movement of making the sound and the movement of pointing to the letter on the page all engaged his brain in what was happening. Pretty soon, he was pointing out letters on signs, newspapers, shop fronts and magazines with great excitement.

I try to make sure he experiences some type of success every time we read together and praise up everything he achieves. This time is very positive, with lots of cuddles and kisses and positive touch. Touch is an incredibly positive teaching tool. There are about a bazillion studies on the positive effects of touch on the brain which I won't go into now. Suffice to say, positive touch releases lots of happy juice into the brain and a happy brain is a learning brain. I wouldn't really have minded if he had decided to drop reading, but he hasn't and is making slow but good progress. He was very proud the day he could sit and read that little reader to Papa Bear perfectly and excited to start the next one!

Next time, I will tell you how we progressed on to the next reader, words and my personal feelings on the links between reading and writing.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Book Review: Your Money, God's Way

Why did I choose to review this book?

This book attracted me because dealing with money is something rarely broached in churches, unless they are asking for donations! Although we are not crippled by large debt, I am always on the look out for ways to refine our budget and use the blessings God has given us to His glory. I also want to be able to equip our children well for managing their own finances before they leave home so they can avoid some of the traps and challenges that we had to work so hard to get out of in our early married life. Budget management is a core life skill.

What do I like about this book?

I thought this book was one of the best I have ever read on this subject. I loved the way it tackled false assumptions (convictions) directly using the Word of God. I thought the advice given was practical, direct and balanced. I liked the way each chapter had a summary at the end and a list of practical ways to implement the advice given. The fact that most of the chapters contained several scripture quotes and I had my Bible open on my lap most of the time I was reading tells me that it is directing the reader to the Bible continually, a laudable achievement for a book on finance!

At no point did I feel that lifestyles were being judged, the author simply presented truths such as "if you have one income, you need to live a lifestyle that is within the means that the income provides". This may seem obvious, and to a point it is, but it is something that many families need to hear. The core message of this book is about embracing freedom and contentment found in Jesus by being wise with our finances. Perhaps my favourite quote from this book was: "Jesus didn't die on the cross so you could lie awake at night, wondering how you're going to make the mortgage payment".

In the Preface and Introduction the author continually warns the reader that she is going to "tell it like it is" which did make me feel a little like I was on an episode of Dr. Phil - but hey, I don't mind Dr. Phil! The actual body of the book was not combative or extreme in word or in concept. While it sought to challenge the reader, it uplifted as it edified rather than condemned. While it had a strong American feel to it (being a book written by an American for an American audience) I did not feel alienated as an Australian reader.

While not every chapter directly related to my personal situation, I could easily think of a friend, acquaintance or family member to fit and I must confess, I recognised my own poor financial habits more than once! The final chapter gave broad but practical budgeting advice. As I finished this book I felt encouraged in my personal walk. I was compelled to go over our finances with Papa Bear and check it all out again and, while no major changes were made, I was left feeling so much better about what we have achieved and where we are going and overwhelmingly blessed to have all that we do have. I also felt compelled to make sure I kept to our aims and used every cent to glorify God.

What don't I like about this book?

There is nothing in this book that I particularly DON'T like.

I would have liked a reading list at the end of recommended stewardship and budgeting books and an Australian edition with the numbers in the final budgeting chapter tweaked to suit would have been good (electricity, food and fuel are MUCH more expensive here). Overall, however, it is a fantastic book and a valuable addition to our library. I think this one will be on the Bear Cub's high school reading list alongside The Richest Man In Babylon.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, October 1, 2010

I have a problem....

I am a compulsive book buyer! I can't help it, it is in my DNA or something.

Would you like to come window shopping with me??

Leatherwood books has some lovely stuff, I especially like their activity books and novel selections

Adnil press
could send me bankrupt with their fabulous curriculum selections

Downunder literature's copywork is a core part of what we do and I love it!

Simply Charlotte Mason makes me drool, I really would like a copy of their Spelling program when Princess Doc is ready for it.

Ladybird books hold so many happy childhood memories for me!

Usborne - need I say more?

I love Barefoot Books too, my favourite has to be Myron's Cow

Boomerang books is a good source for Australian literature

Naturalist clubs often have some great publications. Gould League and Tasmanian field naturalist club are two I like to window shop at.

There's my random ten!

Enjoy your weekend.