Monday, February 27, 2017

Help learning to read

Today I want to share with you a really cool resource.

As you probably know, we are homeschooling. (And therefore this feels really vulnerable to share, because social media has me thinking that the average four year old, independently reads a Harry-Potter-sized-novel a day….so I’m nervous to share our real. But Brene Brown says vulnerability is where it’s at, so here we go.)

My six year old got her daddy’s awesome math skills. So for her, math just comes without effort. But reading actually scares her. She cannot stand to get things wrong, and reading isn’t natural for her, so the general idea of reading for her was just debilitatingly emotional, she was utterly paralyzed with fear.

Since last year, I had tried a bunch of different reading techniques/concepts/programs trying to find something that would click enough to get her past her fears. And everything we tried she was just in tears over.

I was starting to worry that homeschooling was going to tank with this dynamic in play. I was starting to panic a bit. But I went back to the drawing board search engine and somehow, after enough rabbit trails that I could never recount, I found Mrs Karle.

She’s amazing.

She is a retired teacher who taught kids to read for 30 years, and has put all her lessons online for free. She has a youtube video for every lesson.

She is basically the fairy godmother of reading, in my mind. She is so kind and encouraging, and talks right to the kid’s level. She makes them feel empowered and smart. Her personality alone is what got my daughter to try. She has the perfect tone to make her fears a non-issue.

And Mrs, Karle did the best thing…for day one, she just told them the two words (“Good Morning”) and had them read them with her. So Jasmine felt zero failure and just strength. It was so wonderful to watch. And then in the first handful of sessions, she would use pictures in the sentences, to stand in for words they hadn’t learned yet -- more empowerment. After enough lessons we were rolling right along with all words.

All of this was just what the doctor ordered for Jasmine. She went from hating reading to begging to do her lessons, and sometimes she would want to do more lessons, and more lessons, and more lessons. (I had to put a limit on her so she could retain enough stuff and not glaze over it.)

(Now I got to be honest here, and say: she still has days where she insists she hates reading and doesn’t want to do the lessons. But she hasn’t freaked out and cried, or been afraid, since we started this program -- which for her is huge. I think for her, she’s just clinging to her old idenity and saying she hates reading, but I think she’s going to get over it.)

We’ve gotten through 65 days with Mrs. Karle and Jasmine is starting to be able to read easy readers from the library with just a little help. (She currently LOVES “Puppy Mudge.”)

Here’s where I have to say --- part way through using Mrs. Karle’s sight and sound reading, I was getting nervous that she wasn’t actually learning but just parroting Mrs. Karle, in a short term memory way. But when I braved getting some library books recently, and she could actually handle them, my heart just about burst with exited pride. She’s reading! Like really reading!

I’m not sure we would have learned to read without her help! And without getting reading under our belts at this stage, I’m not sure I would have felt safe to keep homeschooling. So I’m SOOOOOO grateful to Mrs Karle for putting such an amazing program out there for anyone to use.

You can find it right {here}.

This program is probably not for every kid, my middle child (Ruby) is kinda on the fence about her. I think Ruby finds Mrs. Karle’s tone a bit condensing. (Ruby’s an old soul, so I don’t think she likes being talked to like a kid as much as Jasmine does.)  But she still is drawn to the stories Mrs. Karle uses. So we’ll see what we use to learn to read with Ruby. (But she seems more reading oriented. So I don’t think the struggle with be so intense with her. We will see.)

BUT even with that in mind --- since this program is totally free…it’s SO worth trying if you have a child learning to read. It doesn’t have to be for homeschooling. It’s totally usable no matter what. You could use it before starting school. Or it would be a great addition for a kid who’s struggling/not super strong with reading at school. These videos are about 10 mins long. They are an easy add to the day. And it really requires very little from the adult helper, mostly just pushing play, and then listening to them read for practice. It’s quite amazing.
(I had started out with printing them pages each day for practicing later on. But I wound up just getting the kindle version of the book for just a few dollars and having Jasmine read off my iPad. You can also get it in paperback --- but the price will vary on that one, when I was shopping before it was at $20, today it’s $10. So just watch the prices.)

I’m not sure that me and Jasmine have reached her age range’s average reading level yet (I actually have no real clue what is average at this age.) But I do know that we are worlds apart from where we were a few months ago.  So I know we will catch up, if we are behind. 
And I also know I can still see joy inside Jasmine at the thought of being able to read on her own. My goal all along this hard path was not to kill off the joy that reading can bring, even in the midst of all her extreme fear. (Remember when I talked “Highly Sensitive Child” before? Yes, so somethings are just very intense for us. Reading happens to be one of them.) So I’m absolutely and totally grateful to Mrs. Karle for the gift she has given us. It’s a big deal to me. 

So I wanted to pass it along to anyone who might benefit. And feel free to pass this blog post, or just the link to Sight and Sound Reading, to anyone who you know who might benefit as well, it could end up being a big gift to them as well.

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