Your child has completed Kindergarten and has moved up to the first grade. You had a good year together, enjoying lots of hands-on activities and new experiences. You’ve snuggled up together on the couch and read and re-read his favorite books. You’ve taught him the names of the letters and the sounds they make. You know he’s ready to start putting those sounds together, but where do you begin?
In a traditional classroom, first grade is the time when children usually learn to:
• Categorize words by the first letter of each word
• Distinguish between lowercase and uppercase letters
• Understand that a sentence begins with a capital letter and ends with a punctuation mark
• Read short vowel sounds
• Read the first, middle, and last sound in a one-syllable word
• Read the sounds made with long vowel patterns
• Read the sounds made with consonant blends and diagraphs and combine them into words
• Decode two-syllable words
• Recognize common site words such as “the,” “said,” and “from.”
• Read common contractions such as “I’ll”, “I’m”, and “can’t”, and know what words they consist of
• Read aloud fluently enough so that it sounds like natural speech
However, remember that homeschooling provides you with much more flexibility than learning in a traditional classroom. Your child’s reading ability may be well beyond that of many other first graders, or he may be a little slower getting started. Either way, don’t worry. You have the time to teach him at his pace, and you have the time to find the best resources to fit your child’s learning style. And remember, too, that a curriculum that worked well for one of your children may not work for another. Thankfully, there are a lot of different types of curricula available.
The A Beka Publications First Grade curriculum includes A Handbook for Reading, Letters and Sounds 1 workbook with teacher key and test book, phonics and reading lesson plans, and a set of eight readers.
Alpha Omega Publications offers the Horizons First Grade Phonics and Reading Curriculum. In Grade 1, students will work through two colorful student workbooks which features memorization techniques, activities, and writing assignments. This set also includes a teacher’s guide.
Alpha-Phonics by Sam Blumenfeld is a one-book resource that includes student pages, lesson plans, and teacher’s manual. This book utilizes a phonetic approach to reading.
The Bob Books by Bobby Lynn and John Maslen are a series of small paperback books, each one focusing on two or three new letter sounds. Young readers quickly find themselves reading words, sentences, and complete books in just a few minutes — a great encouragement for any child just learning to read.
Explode the Code series by Nancy Hall is a collection of workbooks combining writing, spelling, and reading. You can begin anywhere in the series and go from there.
Sing, Spell, Read, & Write Level 1 is the same as the Kindergarten kit. This 36-step program can be used for two years. Songs, games, activities, and readers are included in this curriculum.
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Engelmann can be used with your First Grader as well. This system is designed to have your child reading at a second-grade level by the time you’ve completed the book.
Home Start in Reading by Dr. Ruth Beechick is a small instructional book for parents teaching their children to read. In it, Dr. Beechick shows parents how to teach their children to read phonetically by using homemade flashcards.
The Writing Road to Reading by Romalda Bishop Spaulding is yet another resource that focuses on the phonetic approach to reading. A bit more complex in its approach, the Spaulding method promises good results.
Whatever method you use to get your child reading, be sure to take advantage of the resources at your public library as well. There you’ll find books for every reading level, from the very early readers to readers designed for various grade levels.
The All Aboard Reading books by Grosset and Dunlap offers books at every reading level.
The Bright and Early Books by Random House include titles by Dr. Seuss as well as others. These books not only provide good practice as your student learns to read, but they become childhood favorites as well.
Dorling Kindersley Readers (DK Readers) includes books for children just beginning to read, those who read alone, and those who are proficient readers. Beautiful photographs and colorful drawings illustrate a particular theme or story.
The Early Step Into Reading books by Random House Books for Young Readers is another series featuring engaging stories for beginning readers. Each “step” is indicated on the cover, such as: Step 1 – Ready to Read, Step 2 – Reading with Help, Step 3 – Reading on Your Own, and Step 4 – Reading Paragraphs.
As you help your child learn to read during this first grade year, remember to spend time reading to your child. Reading good books together is time well spent — in more ways than one.
Guest Blogger: Samantha Bell
Photo by sean John-Morgan