Thursday, May 23, 2013

Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons

 Last week, I posted a picture of this book on my Instagram and got lots of questions and showing of interest in it. It was kinda hard to address all the aspects of this method on Instagram, so I thought it would be a good idea to blog about it. There are many, many reviews for this book out there, and I'm sure they are all much better than mine. Be as it may, here is my take on this book. 

I have used 100 Lessons to teach my 3 oldest children to read, and they have all excelled by it. Elijah and Grace are both advanced readers, and were reading chapter books very early. By chapter books I mean Gracie (6) reads American Girl and Junie B. Jones, lickety-split. Elijah (8) reads anything he can get his hands on. We used Story of The World for History this year and he just couldn't get enough during school time and had the whole thing read through before the year was half over. Emma (4) is only on lesson 58 and out of all of them, she has been the latest to use this book. By latest, I mean she is much older than the other two were when they were at this point in the process. With the move, the baby, and her bout with hearing loss, we have just kind of "flowed" with it this year. She is doing awesome with it, though, and absolutely loves it, sometimes doing 2 lessons in a day.

How it works: Basically, this book teaches reading using the Distar method, which teaches a
child the sound of a letter before they learn the name of the letter. With each lesson, the child is given sounds that he/she learns to read by touching under that letter with their finger and simultaneously saying the sound aloud.

They learn the sounds one at a time, and practice verbally blending the sounds together until they progress to more complex words. This example is probably around lesson 30-something, although I could not find it in my book, so I'm just guessing (I found the image via google). As the lessons progress, the words get longer and more complex and the stories also get longer. Starting around lesson 13, each lesson/story begins to have a corresponding picture which is used to evaluate and enhance the child's comprehension of what they are reading. Each lesson also gives a letter/sound-writing exercise at the end, so if your child has not yet started writing, they can also be introduced to it here. I always designate a notebook for this sole purpose and use a sharpie for creating tracing worksheets.

Note: All 3 of my kiddos knew their letters way before starting this book, so I have not really used it to teach the alphabet, per se, only to teach reading. But it can be used to teach letters, phonics, and the whole shabang from scratch.

 The parent/teacher's role: This book walks a parent through, step by step, literally giving you a script (in red writing), telling you what to say and when to say it. Does it possibly get any easier than that? By now, with the 3rd child, I basically ignore the script and do my own thing, but I remember the first time I used it I was so worried about messing up and did every little thing by the book.  About halfway through, you will be skipping all the detailed wordiness and running with it.

By the time your little Suzy finishes this book, she will be reading on a 2nd grade level. However, her learning-to-read journey is far from being over. There is still much to cover, as 100 lessons teaches the basic blends and punctuation. My oldest two were finished with this book by 4,  and so this gave them a huge, HUGE head start on reading. However, I used Abeka Phonics/Reading for 1st grade and it was very beneficial, although they were a little bored with the reading, as they were beyond the kiddos in their class video. But they benefited greatly from it and needed the reinforcement of phonics and rhythm, etc.

The book provides a list of suggested books to check out from your library and read when the book is completed. I don't remember anything dynamic about them, other than the fact that my kiddos were totally stoked that they could actually read a book they had checked out at the library.  

My recommendation: if you are going to use this book, I highly, and I stress highly recommend doing it before kindergarten. Being able to read fluently gives a child such a head start and will help them excel in every single subject.  I am not going to say it will be easy. There were days when it really was a struggle and they just did not want to do it when it started to get hard. BUT. I did not allow them to stop just because it got hard and I pushed them through it. With each of my children, there have been points when they were like the Little Engine That Could climbing a steep hill and then one day, they topped that hill and it got easier and the rest of the book was a downhill breeze for them.

There have also been times when we have had to back off and take a break for a few days, maybe even a week, before coming back to it with a fresh perspective. But believe me when I say, there is no greater reward than seeing your little boy's face beam with pride when he reads a whole story by himself.  Especially when you know you taught your child how to read. What an awesome thing to claim as a parent, as a Mom. Your child can read and YOU taught him!

However, if you choose to wait until they are a little older, that's fine, too. You know your child, and they just may not be ready until 6 or 7. I have also heard of people using this book when their child is in school and is struggling with learning to read in the classroom. If yours is in that situation, give it a go! It can't hurt to try! 

Remember, every child is different, and although mine have taken really well to this method, yours may have a totally different learning style and just not take to it.  Do not be dismayed! There is tons of great stuff out there, and the beauty of homeschooling is if one thing does not work, you are free to toss it out and try something else. Good luck on your reading journey!

p.s. Feel free to ask any questions you may have and I will do my best to answer them! 

p.p.s. I ordered my book from Amazon, and if you wish to do the same, please use the link below. I am an Amazon affiliate and if you purchase through this link I will get a (small) commission from that purchase. Thank you! 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Surviving Postpartum
6 Simple Time-Saver Meals To Get You Through It

Having just came through the postpartum stage of Josie's birth (it feels good to be on the other side of that! Whoo-wee!), I have been looking back on the last 3 1/2 months and reflecting on how I actually made it to this point. There were days, y'all. Boy, there were days when I thought things would never be back to normal. Will I ever be able to wash a load of dishes, bathe a child or keep up with that mountain of laundry without having to take twenty-five breaks just to catch my breath?

Be encouraged, new Mama. Day by day, it does get better. It is slow-going, but God made our bodies to heal at the perfect pace. Although it is frustrating when you face the day-to-day demands of a home and family (and for some, even more demands outside of home), try not to rush yourself through this stage.

Interjection--I'm so thankful for my mother-in-law who came and spent two whole weeks with us to help with things when Josie was born. It was such a blessing! And my Mom, who popped in and out (still does) to do whatever she could to help.

For me, the most challenging part of the day during this stage was suppertime. 5:00 - 6:00 is, indeed, the witching hour. The big kids are hungry and underfoot, the baby is crying, the phone is ringing, and you're energy supply, even after 2 naps, has depleted. Hubby is due home from work at any minute. Even though my man was happy to come home and cook supper, without complaint--bless him--there were days when it did my morale good to have the accomplishment of a hot, delicious meal my family could enjoy.

 Here are 5 simple meals that are favorites of our family. They will not leave you with 5 dirty pots and pans to wash, or, um, leave to soak in the sink overnight and wash the next day. I advise using paper plates (recyclable, of course) as much as possible to contribute to the simplicity.

1. Loaded baked potatoes. Wrap in foil, bake for 30 minutes to an hour in the oven, or until a fork goes in easy. Add butter, sour cream, bacon bits (the real kind), cheese, and any other toppings you so desire. Your children will love you, your husband will kiss you. And look--there's nothing to wash except a few forks and the cheese grater!

2.  Biscuits & Sausage Gravy. Biscuits are a bit messy to assemble, so if you're not feeling up to it there is always (whisper) canned biscuits.Oh my. The healthy, natural Mama police are gonna get me! You can always go back to making those yummy homemade ones when your C-section scar is completely healed, MM-K? It only takes about 5 minutes to brown a package of ground sausage and 10 more to whip up some milk gravy to combine it with. Soo good. Makes really rich milk for your ninny baby, too. And don't worry, you'll burn off those extra calories while you're nursing.

3. Tacos.  Brown a pound of ground beef (or in our case, deer), and stuff your tortilla with all the fixin's. Only one dirty skillet to wash!

4. Fajitas. My family love, love, loves chicken fajitas. Just chop your meat up, and add in a package of fajita seasoning (or cumin, chilli powder, and paprika). With some fresh cilantro and desired toppings, you'll have a delicious, satisfying meal, lickety-split! Note--I love to cook my fajita meat in an electric skillet. It cooks super fast and always seems to have more flavor for some reason).

5. Crock-pot Colorado Burritos.  We live in the south, where the menfolk (and some womenfolk) take deer hunting very seriously. So we usually have quite the abundance of venison, in many forms--ground, chopped, and steak. You can use beef for this recipe, but if you have venison on hand, it cooks up so tender you'd never guess it's not beef steak. I don't actually use a recipe--I just chop up about 2 lbs of deer steak and throw it in the crockpot. Then I pour in one can of red enchilada sauce and cook on low until the steak is completely done (about one hour). Spread about 1/4 cup of meat and sauce into your burritos with a little shredded cheese and place in a casserole dish. Drizzle sauce and a little more shredded cheese over the top and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes. Serve with rice or corn on the cob. Really, they are so filling you don't need to serve much with it.

6. BLTs. We like our BLTs around here, and if you're needing to build up your milk content, this ought to do it! Bacon, a slice of tomato with salt and pepper, a pile of lettuce,  a smear of mayo on one slide of bread and on the other, the secret ingredient--peanut butter! Yes, you heard me right. I was raised on this combo and it no BLT is complete without some PB. Don't forget to toast that bread!

Why only 6 meals? Because the 7th days is Sunday around here for us, which means we go to Mama's to feast, go out to eat, or if we do stay home, clean out the fridge of leftovers from the week. However you do it, think simple is better! Simple meals leave more time to cuddle and enjoy your new little gift.