Friday, January 06, 2012

Homeschool Diaries: The Writing Road to Reading

We started back to our "normal" schooling routine this week.

It was a week, in a sense, that I was dreading.

Dreading because I would be implementing a new reading/writing program that is, well, tedious. However, after reading reviews and the book itself, it looked promising in its method and the results it would (hopefully) produce.

For you veteran homeschoolers, I'm sure you're familiar with it, The Writing Road to Reading.

It was recommended to me by the director of our homeschool co-op. It's encouraged that you attend a seminar to fully understand this method. And, after reading it, and rereading it, I would concur that that would most likely be the wisest move. However, not aware of any seminars near here nor having the money at this time to pay to go to a seminar, I am fully relying on this rusty brain and the Lord to put it into motion.

And Monday, that we did. I expected tears. Therefore, I was not surprised when tears flowed. Some of the best advice I can give to anyone on anything is to enter into it with low expectations or, if possible, no expectations. It's a win/win situation. If things go badly, no surprises or disappointments...if they go great, well, hot dog...celebrate!

I digress.

Like I said, the method is tedious. It begins with teaching your child how to sit correctly in a seat, hold his body correctly in the seated position, and how to hold his pencil correctly while also correctly using the "helper hand" to maintain control of the paper. All, according to this method, are essential to promoting a good foundation for READING. Yes, reading.

Close your mouth.

So, Monday we began. We prayed. Prayed for patience. Hannah was ready. Or so she thought. After repeatedly correcting her pencil grip and her seated position we were ready.

Ready to look at a clock.

Yes, a clock.

To understand where the pencil begins its formation of letters, this method refers to the numbers on a clock, primarily the 2, 4, 8, and 10.

You're drooling.

I modeled for her the formation of the letter "a" using the clock method. The author, Spalding, highly emphasizes that the way in which children form their letters directly coorelates with how they read them. Therefore, it is important that the child moves the pencil in the proper direction. It's interesting that Spalding also notes how often dyslexia is often the product of children not forming their letters in the proper direction, thus also causing them to read the letters in the backwards direction.

In addition to properly forming the letters with the aide of the clock visual, the child is also required to repeat the sounds that letter makes when writing it. This solidifies the sound with the letter by tapping into the visual, auditory, and kinestetic learning styles of the child.

It addresses all the phongrams (sounds) in the English language in this manner. So after we do all the letters of the alphabet, Hannah and I will then begin writing phongrams with more than one phoneme such as -eigh which has four phonemes but one phongram (sound).

Like I said, it's tedious. But I believe well worth the investment of our time and, yes, tears.

Hannah has already made progress in her handwriting. Did I mention it also requires the student to write on wide ruled paper? That also was a big adjustment, however, I am proud that Hannah can now keep her letters in the small space and sitting on the base line (most of the time).

Not only has it been a challenge academically, but it's produced an opportunity for character development. This is the most rigid environment Hannah has been in and the most challenging one. Therefore, I've had to remind her the importance of perserverance and an attitude that glorifies the Lord when things get hard. We even read a book about Helen Keller to show the product of perserverance in an academic environment. So when she says she can't do it, I can hang ol Helen over her head and remind her that she was blind, deaf, and mute but she learned to read and write. Take that. And now Helen Keller is on our most frequently read book list and the kids top choice to read at night (it's getting a little old).

And, it's been a huge opportunity for me to trust the Lord and beg Him for patience. By His grace, I have not lost my cool this week, though Hannah would say I have in the midst of her tears at the end of a lesson. She, however, misunderstands being "mean" with encouraging her to stick with it and finish the lesson.

I'll leave you with a picture of her work at the beginning of the week and the work she completed today. I will say, today I had tears in my eyes when she whipped out the letter "s" with such ease and confidence. I know, weird right? But when you are investing in something and someone so important it can't help but be emotional at times. I love this kid and I delight in seeing her successful, especially when it's come after much perserverance and tears.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 4
so this really DOES show improvement but I guess you'll have to take my word for it ;)


Jenny said...

Jess, next time y'all go to Birmingham you should take a trip to Helen Keller's home in Tuscumbia (sp?) There is a museum, and I believe you even tour the house she grew up in. If the kids are really interested in her I think they'd love to see it. I went when I was little and I still remember it. There is also the home for the deaf & blind near by, which might be another neat trip for the kids, to see how other children learn to adapt with their handicap.

Anonymous said...

Tell Hannah that Grandmama is so proud of her hard work and so thankful for a daughter that is teaching her.

Erin said...

We used good old Spalding, but I didn't have to struggle with the clock since I used the 5th grade level book. I do remember not liking it. :). But go hannah - I see great progress!

Jackie said...

Kuddos to Hannah. Such great improvement from the beginning paper to the last one.

My daughter, Hannah, is also dyslexic, so I can emphasize with you on "patience".

Jackie who stays busy homeschooling a high-spirited 14 year old dyslexic sweetie.
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