The Reading Lesson

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This is the desk in the girls’ bedroom. I purposely put the book there to take this photo, not because I love revealing the level of chaos our home tends to run at, but because it illustrates one of my favorite aspects of this particular book.

When I put together our first term curriculum, I knew that we would be making a trans-continental move smack dab in the middle of it. But the truth is that even under the most pristine of circumstances, I have a flair for the disorderly. I joke with my husband that on the rare occasion I finish all of the laundry in the house, someone immediately gets a stomach virus (creating mountains of super gross laundry to fill my sparkly clean baskets) or our machine breaks. Therefore, I knew that we needed a few key elements that we could simply pick up wherever we left off. No extra supply gathering, no late night printing, cutting, gluing extravaganzas, no actual planning at all required. (For what it’s worth, ALL of those things are a part of our homeschool life… But I wanted to have a few key subjects that essentially ran themselves for those times when chaos rears it’s all too familiar head.)

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We had heard one recommendation after another for Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons, and no, I didn’t choose The Reading Lesson because it boasts only twenty. (More on those twenty lessons in a moment.) However, the glowing reviews were scattered with the occasional parent who hated it or the child who found it too boring to bear. Of course, all materials will work for some and not for others… Which is the beauty of homeschooling! Getting to tailor materials to your child’s learning style. What deterred me from picking up a copy and giving it a shot was that those who didn’t like it REALLY didn’t like it. Since one of our main goals for this first year was to cultivate the idea that learning is something we enjoy, I was wary of starting off with something that we might all come to disdain. In all fairness, loads of people love it and I have no actual opinion because we’ve never used it! Just explaining how we came across this alternative.

So I did what any sensible person would do and spent a couple days totally freaking out, researching every well rated option I could find, and convincing myself that if I chose the wrong one my children would never learn to read and we would all hate school forever. Then I had some iced coffee and called a friend who reminded me that it really wasn’t that big of a deal. So I went back to researching a bit more calmly and somehow stumbled onto this little gem. The reviews were almost unanimous. This book worked and most enjoyed the process! I previewed the pages on Amazon and loved the clean, simple layouts. Plus it was cheap, so if we hated it we could simply move onto the next option without too much stress.

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Here’s what we love about it:

Each of the twenty lessons is meant to be worked through slowly (sometimes it’s taken us two weeks to finish one). Sticking with Charlotte Mason’s ideal of short lessons, we typically only spend 10 minutes or so each day with this book. The first lesson introduces the five most common letter sounds and builds words using them. Each consecutive chapter adds in three new letter sounds, incorporating digraphs (two letters that make a single sound, like “sh” or “ou”) into the mix. These words get built into short, easy to read stories that get longer and more complex as they learn new sounds and words.

There are occasionally simple activities to solidify new letter sounds or words, but we’ve even found it easy to create our own activities within the book. For example, one of my children reads very well by sight but loses focus easily if there’s more than a word or two that she’ll have to sound out. So when we start a new page, we’ll spend some time identifying the sounds. I’ll ask her to circle all the “-at” words and draw a rectangle around the “-et” words, then we’ll go through them together and sound out the beginning letters until we’ve read them all together. Then I’ll let her read the story by herself. So it’s been easy to customize for her without even making my own materials.

Most of all, we all enjoy it! When we started The Reading Lesson, they could only read a handful of sight words. They knew all of their letter sounds, but blending them to make words was still a mystery. We’re only in Lesson 4 (we spent some time reviewing after our break) but it never ceases to amaze me watching them read each new story with more confidence and speed week after week.

Bottom line – I can’t give you any comparisons between this program or that program because once we started The Reading Lesson, we never looked back! Thankful to have this in my arsenal of ready-to-go, no-planning-required curriculum to carry us through the rough patches.

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