For the last few weeks, our family has been reviewing the ABeCeDarian Company reading program. A carefully constructed reading curriculum created by Michael Bend, Ph.D, ABeCeDarian stands out amongst the rest in that it does not follow the normal format of other reading programs. (While I can not say much about other reading programs because this was the first one we used, I have looked at many of them and I can tell you that this one’s approach is definitely different. In fact, it was much different from the way I learned to read!) Gone are sight words and most phonics rules. In it’s place is sounding out letters to make words, using a multi-sensory approach by “touching” the letters, and learning all the sounds in each word instead of just memorizing it by appearance.
This program consists of 4 levels for children in Kindergarten through 6th grade. Level A is for children just starting out, struggling, or in Kindergarten through the middle of 1st grade. Level B is for children reading at the middle of 1st grade through 2nd grade range. Level C is for children reading at a 3rd grade and 4th grade range. Level D is for children reading at a 5th and 6th grade range. Before beginning, it is suggested that you use the placement test to know where to have your child begin.
Our family was given the Teacher Manuals for A-1, A-2, & B-1, the Student Workbooks for A-1, A-2, & B-1, the Set of 10 Storybooks, and ABeCeDarian Aesop. As Tommy just starting out with reading, we only used the following:
Teacher Manual A-1 – $28.50
Student Workbook A-1 – $12.25
Set of 10 Storybooks – $21.50
Before I could begin
planning walking Tommy through his lessons, there was a TON of reading ground to cover in the teacher’s manual. For most, it probably wouldn’t seem like a lot of reading. However, for me, it was during a time that we had a lot going on and I had to force myself to find time to do all the reading. That being said, if you diligently take the time to read and understand the teacher’s manual before you begin, you won’t have to spend a lot of time planning (hence my crossing it out at the beginning of this paragraph.) The first section of the teacher’s manual helped me understand more about learning to read than I ever knew before and how to help my son learn to read on his own. I learned how to teach using “Turtle Talk” (sounding out the letter sounds), “People Talk” (saying the word normally), “Tap and Say”, “Error Game”, word puzzles, and more. I actually felt well prepared to begin with Tommy on the first lesson even though we had never tried a formal reading plan before.
That being said… Remember how I said I had learned to read a different way? Yeah, old habits die hard. You know what else is hard? A tough as nails stubborn little 5 year old who wants you to take the easy way out and pretend he either 1: doesn’t know how to do this even though he’s constantly begging you to teach him how to read or 2: whine, distract, and just all around act out. We didn’t have this problem EVERY day, but the first few weeks were a bit brutal, if I’m to be honest. Does that have anything to do with the curriculum? No. I just believe in being transparent and want you to know that we, like every other family trying to teach their child to read, have had some struggles.
Now, once I got all those “old rules” out of my head, re-read some of the teacher’s manual, and I had a “come to Jesus” talk with Tommy, things got better. We went back to the beginning of the books and started fresh after taking a break for a few days. One thing that made each lesson significantly easier for me as I tried to keep Tommy’s attention was that it was basically scripted for me in the teacher’s manual. The point of the lesson and instruction is all in regular font. However, the part of each lesson that they would like you to say out loud to your child is in bold italics, making it easy for ME to keep my place and remember where I am as we move throughout the book.
I wish I had taken video the first time Tommy read a word on his own without error or correction. Why? Because he didn’t realize that he actually read it and it was HYSTERICAL! Once the realization hit him, he was jumping up and down, shaking, passing out high fives around the house, and begging to call his grandparents and tell them. Tommy was laughing, I was crying tears of joy & relief that this wasn’t going to be years of struggles, and the other 2 kids just looked at us like we were a bunch of nuts. After our struggle the first 2 weeks, I didn’t expect him to really get it as quickly as he did. I thought it would take a few lessons for him to be reading a word on his own, let alone 3 words by the end of that week and the next week 6 words. (Just a warning: If you happen to meet Tommy in person he is going to spell every word he knows for you now… Be prepared.)
Tommy is now following the flow of the curriculum (Like a GOOD boy… This whole not being in preschool anymore is a bit of an adjustment for him…) and learning a little more every day.
It is recommended that the lessons be taught once a day, 4-5 days a week. In A-1 there are 27 lessons divided into 5 units. This is the plan we are following, but like I said, we went back and started over at one point and if you have to also, that’s okay. What matters is that the lesson is done right, not fast. 😉
A few years ago when we first decided to homeschool, my pastor’s wife/co-pastor Sis. Pam Howard gave me some great advice. She had taught homeschool herself, so I listened closely. I can’t remember the exact words, but she basically told me that if I can teach my child to read, I’ve overcome the biggest fear and struggle as a homeschooling parent and that it would all be downhill from there. (If I got that wrong, please correct me, Sis. Howard!) Naturally, I agreed with her. Now, thanks to ABeCeDarian? Well… I’ll let you know when we get to Algebra. 😉
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