I'm finally trying to put life back together or at least get back to some of my normal routine after the move.  I am still surrounded by boxes here in my new "library/office" area as we don't have bookshelves yet and let's face it, I'm human without superpowers and even though a lot of my time has been dedicated to unpacking lately I'm just one person and can only do so much.  After all, my family still needs to eat, learn and do other things as well. But I will persist and try to save my sanity (thus the post on stress the other day and yes, I am reading the book and doing my best to learn from it - more on that another day!) and attempt to get back to a somewhat regular blogging schedule if I can.

So today is day 28 of our homeschool year.  If you recall, my oldest son (I go by his school year plan for the day) started school back in the beginning of August.  At that time we planned on him having at least 8 flex days in the school year.  Little did I know when we planned this that he would, for sure, be participating this year in football...  That was a big goal for us when we decided to sell our house and move to the school district my husband would be working in....but we had no idea the sell of our house would take place so quickly!  And I, as a not so big football fan, did not have a CLUE how much time pre-season football practice would actually entail.  Yes, my son has fallen behind.  But actually, I've been rather impressed.  I think his responsibility with things have actually INCREASED rather than decreased.  Football really is important to him you see and he knows that school is important to me.  He knows to have both, school has to be going fairly well.  So he has really been trying hard, in my opinion, especially considering he has to endure this in a smaller room than he's used to which is full of still unpacked boxes which were not packed well by the movers....   but I digress.... back to school.

Despite being a few days behind in quite a few subjects now, he's performing well.  He got 100% on his first Chemistry exam - another testimony to having his father's brain cells 😉  and starts lab this Thursday with some friends at a local camp - the same one that offered a Biology lab last year.  He's also doing well with Geometry and World Studies.  He just started his online class for Russian and the Lost Tools of Writing class as part of his English course.  He could stand to do better with Keyboarding (I'm still not sure if this is what I'm calling that course on the transcript.... I'd like to include some basic computer skills in the course besides typing....).  I don't think I need to say much about physical education.  He's DEFINITELY getting his hours in and he's definitely performing well.

I'm not really keeping track of days for my youngest.  After all, he's only 4....  I'm still not even sure what I'm calling this year.  Preschool? Pre-K? Kindergarten?  He's definitely beyond preschool but I'm not sure if we'll get through enough to call it Kindergarten.  But maybe we will - he certainly is catching onto the reading thing!  And we're homeschoolers....it really doesn't matter what I call it.  I don't need to call it anything really as we live in Pennsylvania and I don't have to report anything to the state until he's eight.  So I think I have awhile before I NEED to decide what this year really is.

With that said, take a look at the words he already knows automatically - no sounding out!


We are still using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons but I'm also practicing the words he's learning in that book and other sources with the sight word flash cards I've made above and have started using the Delightful Reading Program I purchased from Simply Charlotte Mason at the Chap Convention in the spring.

He's doing really well.  There are days he doesn't want to do it.  On these days I attempt some encouragement....chocolate chips for words he gets, that sort of thing...but if he really seems off, we just put the things away and move on.  It's OKAY. But he's really catching on to the 'making words' part of the Charlotte Mason program.  He totally figured out how to change 'pain' into 'paint' the other day and I haven't even covered changing word endings yet!

We also make sure we READ EVERY DAY!!!!!  That's the MOST important thing! Whether it be his Bible, books or magazines (He loves the stash of Highlights Magazine we have... I didn't do so good in reading them to him as they came in the mail so now I have a stash and we've been getting through one every week or so), we read together and now I pause every once in a while and point out a word I'm sure he knows.  He LOVES to see that he can read part of the story too!

Other things we are using so far this year include the first book to Handwriting Without Tears.  My goal this year is just to INTRODUCE the correct formation of letters.  I am not worried that he uses it all the time nor do we write everyday.  Right now I'll be glad if we get through the book ( a page or two, maybe three in a week) and work on his name and a few basic words.  For math all I'm doing right now is having him count the words he gets right in his word cards every day (he gets a special treat if it's more than the day before).  We also occasionally read out of the book "Everything Your Child Needs to Know in Kindergarten".  I don't rely on these books to really know it all....but I like the variety of things all in one book to pick and choose from and help guide me in giving him information that is varied.  The stories are nice and he loves the poems.  He loves that we are finding a lot of sources here at home containing the Rain poem by Robert Louis Stevenson which he will be reading in the Charlotte Mason Delightful Reading program.  Of course we start the day out with Morning Prayers (okay.... I admit it...I totally failed at this for the last couple of weeks but are now back on track) and Bible reading.  I use his Bible Reader. Check out this online source!  It's told on his level and has great illustrations!

Today I'm adding a Charlotte Mason type method to learning the words to the Our Father.  He knows the prayer.  But now we are going to learn the words and talk about what it means.



How is your homeschool year going??








Back in February I posted about our progress at that point with Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Lessons.  At that point, we had completed about 15 lessons.  You can read about my first impressions of the book and the completion of the first 15 lessons here and here.

At this point, we have completed 52 lessons.  As you can see, I've kept to my word that we would not be doing lessons every day.  I've let the reading lessons be up to my son.  There are days he really wants to do a lesson and brings the book to me or asks if we can lay in a blanket out in the sunshine and read or do a lesson.  But other days, he has no interest.  And that's OK.

I am still 100% pleased with this program.  I have years of experience teaching reading to a wide variety of age groups in public school and to my own children in homeschooling.  I really LOVE this program. It truly outshines many of the methods I used years ago in the classroom.

My son is 4.  So I have made some minor adaptations.  As I said we don't do the lessons daily....sometimes going days or weeks in between.  Sometimes we do two lessons in a day.  It all varies according to his interest and attention span.  I also stopped doing the writing part of the lessons.  He's just not that into it and I don't think it's necessary to make it a requirement at age 4.  Reading isn't even a requirement at age 4.  But he's totally ready for it and we totally LOVE doing the other tasks in each lesson.

My son's favorite activity is reading the story at the end of the lesson and guessing what will be in the picture that accompanies the story.  After introducing a new sound,

An image from the book...  We love guessing what's going to be in the picture...though sometimes I have to work very hard at covering it up while we are reading so a certain little someone doesn't peek! ;)
An image from the book... We love guessing what's going to be in the picture...though sometimes I have to work very hard at covering it up while we are reading so a certain little someone doesn't peek! 😉

reviewing sounds, introducing a new word or two and reviewing other words, the child reads the story (at this stage, each story contains about 5-7 sentences) by sounding out each word.  A second reading follows with the child attempting to read the story the 'fast way'.  For my child, we read through the first time, allowing him to sound out each word.  I often, if it has taken us a long time to sound out the sentence, will then reread the sentence out loud to him before continuing onto the next sentence. After all of the sentences are read, I sometimes read the whole story with him following along or we go right to reading it the 'fast way', depending on his attention span and how easy or difficult reading it the first time seemed to go that day.  The fast way means the child is to read through the sentence without the need to sound out the words.  This varies for my son each day.  With a young child, each day can vary according to attention span, eagerness to read, time of day, etc.  Again, he's 4.  I'm not worried about how fast he can read.  I'm just thrilled that he is eager to learn and appears to be really catching on to phonics and how all the sounds form together to make a word!

I do have a word wall.  wpid-img_20140616_111134_431.jpg

These are the words that we are trying to turn into sight words for him so that he has a bit of a vocabulary that he knows automatically...without always having to sound out.  The words on the right are the words from the book (he knows others just from picking up on his own over time - I'm pretty sure he knows at least most of the first 20 words of the  most common words in the English language according to the list in this source and quite a few other common nouns) that he knows by sight, the ones on the left he sometimes needs to sound out.

So, in summary, WE LOVE "Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons' by Engelmann, Haddox, and Bruner!  🙂  I'm sure we will continue using it at a leisurely pace through the summer.


I have a LOT of catching up to do....   here on the blog, in my own manuscript writing, critique groups, homeschool plans, catching up with friends, decluttering and organizing and oh so much more.  My "To Do" list keeps growing.   I write it out once a week or so and cross out things as I accomplish them but seem to always add more than I cross out.  I never get it all done.  I'm always rewriting the things I didn't get done from the old list to the top of the new list.

I have had some recent achievements though:

My little guy and I are halfway through Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons.   I'll try to get an update on that out soon.  He still enjoys the lessons.  Sometimes we skip a few days, sometimes we do two in a day because he brings the book to me and wants to do it.  He is starting to pick out a lot more words in the books I read to him.  🙂  It's exciting!

I am in Spring Cleaning Decluttering and Organize Mode..   I finally succeeded in cleaning out my closet!  It's a nice walk-in closet with lots of shelves...also, unfortunately, the place I was learning to put things if I didn't feel like dealing with it at the moment...and was no longer very 'walk-in-able'...  But NOW IT IS!  Woot!  I have it all done but one shelf...  lots of pictures and papers that need sorted and put into the right boxes.  But just this one MAJOR task accomplished and the $65 I made cleaning out the game closet (I sold some games and an old keyboard on a Facebook online garage sale) gives me HUGE motivation to continue.

I finally watched the Charlotte Mason video seminars that I bought LAST year at the CHAP (Christian Homeschool Association of Pennsylvania) conference....with only 7 days to go before the next conference!  It was worth it.  It did convince me that I really need to make an effort to get to know more about the Charlotte Mason approach and stay on track with it.  I definitely feel it's the right approach for us for the little man...  if only I had researched it when the others were younger 🙁   Oh well....I did the best I could,

I completed the May Menu.  But I really need to get cracking on the grocery list for next week or I'll have a menu with no food!

I finally wrote the blog post I've been meaning to write for some time.  I posted it last Thursday and it got over  198 views thus far...making it my 3rd most viewed post.  Not a lot of comments were made, but it pleased me that that many people read it and am hopeful it gave   If you haven't and you want to read it, it's right here:  Why I Refuse To Support Homeschool Diploma Programs.

I made a LOT of revisions on my manuscript in the last month or so.  Unfortunately, the last time I sat down to work on it my goal had been to CUT word number...and ended up with 35 extra words....  LOL... but I think the revisions I made were important and beneficial.  I hope to cut some more on the word count today and maybe even write up a draft query letter!

Well, that's certainly not all I've been doing - but it's the highlights of quite a few.  And now, I need to get back to the manuscript!  Wish me luck!



As of today, my son and I have completed the first 15 lessons of Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. 🙂 So far it is a really great program and we are having fun with it.   

I'm not trying to rush my 3-year-old (almost 4) into reading early...I'm just going with his readiness signs he has given me and his enthusiasm.  I talked about that a bit more in my earlier post.  Check out Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons if you haven't already 🙂

So like I said, we have finished the first 15 lessons.  So far they have introduced 8 sounds and at least a dozen words as well as two short stories (3 word sentences).  I like the approach.  There is a clear concept of teaching the child to sound out the word and a follow-up of going from sounding a word out slow to saying it fast to hear the word the child is sounding out.  In addition there is rhyming skills that are taught (although my son seems to have that skill down rather well - driving me CRAZY with all the nonsense words he rhymes together in a day!).  In addition, now that we are reading the short 'stories', there is picture comprehension.  A picture accompanies each story (short sentence for now) and questions to prompt a discussion to establish comprehension of what the child reads and sees in the picture.  It's really a nice set up.

It's a really interesting approach based on the Distar Reading Program.  One thing that makes this approach unique is that it does not initially teach letter names because the letter names do not play a direct role in reading words. That fact is so obvious yet not many of us think about that concept when it comes to teaching our children.  My son already knows the letter names but I can see that realizing this concept could save some parents some real grief as some kids just don't seem to catch onto letter names right away but can still catch onto sounds.   So in this approach you teach your child the sounds, not the letter names.  You present them one at a time having the child practice saying the sound by itself and combined with a few short other sounds to slowly sound out short words and then learn how to 'say it fast' or blend the sounds together to form a word.  This is the reason we have only covered 8 sounds so far but can still read a good number of words and now short sentences too!

This approach also uses its own Orthography or how words are spelled and thus involves writing.  Now my son is only 3 and isn't really interested in writing with a paper and pencil.  BUT, he does like markers and he does like sand....soooooo... I've adapted a bit.  I filled a cake pan (one that has a lid) with cream of wheat (you could use sand but we didn't have any available the day I started this) and he forms the letters with his fingers in the cream of wheat.  He LOVES this!  So even on days where his attention is a little shorter, I can sometimes get it back just by reminding him he can write in the sand when we are done! (otherwise we just cut the lesson short and finish later or the next day - no pushing at all!)

So I just wanted to share where we are in this beginning stages of reading experience.  It's so much fun.  He still points to words in books and says "What does that say?" and of course I tell him.  I sound it out with him too.  And he loves to find words in books he already knows.

We are also enjoying reading the books and doing some activities as suggested in Before Five In A Row.... today we covered Blueberries For Sal, a childhood favorite of mine 🙂

What are you doing in your homeschool today??