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The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading Paperback – October 17, 2004
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About the Author
Jessie Wise, a former teacher, is a home education consultant, speaker, and writer. She has decades of experience as a classroom teacher, elementary school principal, private tutor, and educational consultant, and is the co-author of the best-selling The Well-Trained Mind and the groundbreaking elementary grammar text First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind. She lives in Charles City, Virginia.
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This book is a great scope and sequence for what phonics rules to teach and in what order. We basically went through each lesson in order. With my oldest I completed the book around the latter part of first grade. My younger children are not quite as far along as he was at the end of kindergarten, so it may take longer. I found the repetitiveness to be an asset. I found the book easy to navigate and it was easy to flip back to previous lessons and do quick reviews.
I actually LOVE that the book has no flashy colors or pictures. This is INTENTIONAL. In schools children are taught to use picture clues to figure out words. I taught in public school for three years and have a MaEd. and I can tell you THIS IS NOT READING. It is a common practice and I NEVER saw it help a child, other than to encourage guessing. In The Ordinary Parent's Guide the child can only "read" by focusing on the words...right from the start.
Yes, the words are small, but I found my kids had no problem quickly learning which words were for them and which were for me. I placed a simple piece of paper under what they needed to read and that was that. Font and small type was a non issue for us. The kids adapted almost right away.
I would suggest, however, NOT using this as your entire reading curriculum. It was the MAIN part of our reading, but in and of itself it was dry and boring...effective yes, exciting NO, NO, and NO. So, we moved through our lessons, while I enriched reading time with exciting read alouds (this is where I asked reading questions about character, setting, plot...etc.) Until the students are reading independently AND fluently it is useless to ask them comprehension questions about their own reading, so I do this through read alouds (decoding words at the early ages it quite enough).
Once the kids started reading well enough, I began to check out easy readers and Bob Books from the library and moving through those in addition to their regular lessons. The kids enjoyed reading "real books" rather than just the reading lessons. I found Scholastic's book finder to be an invaluable resource for checking out books on each child's level, while gradually increasing difficulty.
I also introduced more sight words than The Ordinary Parent's Guide. I found when checking out books from the library or reading Bob Books (such great readers that build in level gradually) they needed to be familiar with more sight words earlier than they are presented in this book. I simply couldn't wait until they were covered, so we made a word wall and did many earlier.
So, there you have it. This book it not perfect, but is a great resource and a great backbone to any reading program. In my case, this is evidenced by three early reading normal kids. I previewed the 100 easy lessons book, but found it didn't cover enough and I firmly believe it takes more than 100 phonics lessons to have a fluent reader (just my personal/professional opinion). The Ordinary Parent's Guide has been the best, most thorough scope and sequence I've seen....just add some fluff to your reading time to keep kids engaged. Honestly, there is NO single magical resource that does EVERYTHING a reading program needs to do...common sense, adjusting, and listening to your kids is necessary no matter what is chosen. Good luck!!
I put the book aside, eventually selling it for close to what I paid - thankfully, since it was still in perfect condition (we did not even make it through the vowels). Soon after, my daughter taught herself to read, and now reads at or above grade level.
If you give it a fair chance and it isn't working, do not blame yourself or your child.
The best thing about this book is it is a "total plan" to teach reading, starting with the basics and working up to fairly high-level skills. So with my son, we're working on learning the vowels - and wow, it's great to have a plan to teach him those. Sure, the poem itself is horrible, and he won't say it after me. But I can say that after 5 days, he knows what a, e, i, o and u are and he knows how each sounds.
I started my daughter mid-book. She's been learning phonics in first grade, so I had to hunt around a bit to find an appropriate starting point. I can say this - in the week we've used the book, all of a sudden her timed reading scores have moved up dramatically. Some of this is undoubtedly due to other factors, but I do believe that because we're using this book to supplement her school, her confidence has improved and consequentially, she's starting to like reading more. She doesn't beg to do the reading exercises, but she doesn't fight it either.
I can't say that everything in this book is perfect, but I doubt it's intended to be used exactly as written. The great thing about this book is it provides a systemic way to teach reading - of course, the methods therein must be adapted to each child's interests and learning style. So I don't like some of the poems and some of the exercises don't appeal to my kids - we do other things. As long as I have somewhat of a road map, I can do the rest. And I suspect most people who buy this book and really want to teach their children to read can do that as well.
I highly recommend this book.
Nearing the end of the book, we've gone on to begin work in "First Language Lessons" by the same author.