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I am brand new to homeschooling and every time I get online to try to figure out what reading and writing programs to use I get totally overwhelmed. My son just turned 4 years old and seems interested in learning to read and write. Has anyone used The Ordinary Parents' Guide successfully with a 4-year old? I like how it is scripted. Also, I was reading Logic of English's article about why to teach cursive first and considering getting that or the entire Foundations set. Do any of you know if Susan Wise Bauer has any articles about teaching cursive first? I was surprised that WTM recommends Zaner-Bloser handwriting instead of a script that better transitions to cursive. Every time I get online and try to determine where to actually start, I find something new and end up with more questions than answers.

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I think you should use what makes sense to you. 🙂  Clear as mud?

I like taking the time at the beginning and reading about how different people have taught these skills and why.  I'm not a huge fan of OPG, but I am using it to work with an older child who can handle more information at one time.  He can read, but he taught himself sight reading and skipped a lot of the rules.  OPG helps him with the rules behind it all.  For young kids I like methods that focus more on single bits of information per lesson.  "this shape says this sound.  Now let's put it with other sounds you know" and gets them a quick toe in the water.

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11 minutes ago, Kate Garcia said:

Thanks. Have you ever used LOE's reading program? Or do you have any other recommendations?

I haven't, though friends have raved about it.  It's solid and their kids read well.

I can't give you a good rec from a distance.  There's so much to take into account.  Most programs will teach well, though, if they're teaching phonics.  It just comes down to teaching style.  For myself, I'm comfortable with a modified DISTAR (think Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons or Reading Mastery).  I don't like to sink a lot of money in a program until I've exhausted free and low-cost options.  DISTAR isn't for everyone.  It's weird looking and 100 Easy Lessons seems to make it appear that it should be 100 days and that pace is frightening.   It's much easier on kids to drop the writing, stretch the lessons, and do "throwback Thursday", where every few lessons you redo one from 10 or 20 before.

When it comes to writing I developed my own method.  I teach D'nealian, but we keep everything in organized stroke families.  I mean, I teach
l, i, and t first.  It's the same basic 'l' stroke.  I add writing after these sounds are taught in 100 Easy Lessons so they can read what they're writing.  Then I teach
c, a, d, e, and o.  It takes the "c" stroke, combines it with the "l" stroke, and gives them plenty of practice.  From there:
j, g, and then
b, p, k
n, m, h
and so on, each time building on what what learned previously.  That way we can spend minimal time on handwriting for a kid who doesn't want to write, but needs daily practice with each stroke.  I have a color coded chart I made that breaks down each letter into its parts.  D'nealian moves into cursive pretty easily.

If I was going to give solid advice, it would be this:
-read different methods.  Try to figure out why they're doing something a certain way.  Is it for convenience?  Ease?  Mastery?  Specific skill building?  If you can't puzzle out why something is worth it, email the writer and ask why they wrote it that way. 

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Welcome! I remember the early days well--there's so much out there and it can be overwhelming to try to figure out what you like and why--so many things can sound great! Give yourself time--thankfully we don't have to learn it all or figure it all out at once! Online samples can help but sometimes you just need to try things to know. Handwriting Without Tears worked well for my kids--the strokes for print are very similar to the strokes for cursive. The Get Ready, Get Set, and Go for the Code books are fun for that preschool age when they are working on strokes. But also just do fun things like practicing letters with a finger in a salt tray etc... At this age, not all kids are ready for a lot of pencil-to-paper work, so look for tactile practice too. Since he's just-turned 4, there are a lot of fun free things you can work on with him before he might be ready for a reading curriculum--here are some "reading readiness" skills with activity ideas. Have fun with your little one! 

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Oh, I know that overwhelmed feeling!  I never did find anything that really worked for me for teaching my kids reading, so I can’t help there, but I can say that over time you get better and better at finding curric and knowing what’ll work for your kids.  Reading was the one thing I never figured out. I accidentally picked a bad-for-us curric and kept trying to power through instead of looking for something that was a better fit.  I didn’t know any better back then.  😞

 At this point with a 4-yo, it’s just about impossible to know what your son will like.  You’ll have to take a plunge and get something and see what happens.  With each new purchase over the years, you’ll get a better sense of what works and what doesn’t and how your son responds to different things.  There’s just no way to know for sure until you try something and see what happens. 

So it’s ok if you don’t know what to get.  When you’re ready, buy something and watch carefully for what happens.  If he’s crying and miserable, there could be a couple of reasons:  he’s not really ready yet emotionally or on a brain development level, or the curric is a bad fit.  

You can try a couple of things: stop teaching for a few months and wait for him to mature a little more or buy a new curric.  

It’s tough when they’re soooo little and can’t give solid feedback.  However, crying is pretty solid feedback. I wish I’d understood that at the beginning and hadn’t pushed through making my sons and myself miserable.  

TL;DR. With a 4-yo there’s no way to tell what curric is best for him.  This is normal.  You’ll figure it out over time.  Buy something and see what happens and adjust from there.

Edited by Garga
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  • 3 weeks later...

I was very gung ho to get started with my 4 year old twins when they were this age, and I pushed academics too early. It took time to undo the harm especially to my son who I pushed to write too much too soon. So, I would recommend taking it slow and knowing that with consistency (and no learning differences that need to be taken into consideration) your son will read when he is really ready. Reading is a bit like learning to walk - some walk earlier and others later but they walk regardless. My recommendation is to look at samples and choose what seems best to you.

For my 3rd child, a now four year old boy, I have chosen:

ivy kids kits

memoria press enrichment (used with my twins now 8 )

printing with letter stories from IEW (used with my twins)

singapore kindergarten essentials (used with my twins)

BOB books (used with my twins, see https://teachingwithbob.com)

Progressive Phonics (used with my twins, see http://www.progressivephonics.com )

reading lots of books


Dyslexia Toolkit Level 1 from PDX Reading Specialist (new to me, but I like it a lot. There are similar products on teachers pay teachers that you print yourself and are cheaper). My son is not dyslexic as far as I know, but I wanted a fun, game based reading curriculum that he would find engaging and this has fit that bill. But many of the activities are available from places like this reading mama and others. I wanted something easy this time because I’m just so busy.




Good luck!

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I used Hooked on Phonics back when I had kids that age.  We didn't do handwriting of any kind, really, until K (we did Handwriting without Tears).  We did play with magnet letters or foam letters that stick to the bathtub walls.  They worked well with how the phonics was taught - we'd spell cat, then kiddo would have fun swapping out first letters to make sat and bat, and then as we added more sounds they could make sat into sad, etc.  Kids develop differently, and mine could read and even spell long before they had the ability to write well.  But, I figured that when they were young I couldn't mess it up too badly - I read to them, we counted items when we cleaned or shared and used that as a way to play with math (if I put away these 3 blocks and you put away those 2, how many did we put away?  If we have 6 cars and you give your sibling 1/2, how many do you each get?).  We did phonics when they seemed ready to learn to read. 

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I never used LOE, but I seem to recall looking at it and deciding it was way too pricey. At this age, I am reticent to spend a lot of money on something that might not work for this particular child. Besides, you do not need a lot of fancy stuff to teach the basics.

With our current 4yo, we are using Go for the Code, but this child is totally fine with workbooks. We start with a different picture book each day from this Letter of the Week book list that corresponds to the lesson in Go for the Code: https://www.themeasuredmom.com/book-lists-2/#lotw. Then we do two pages. If both pages contain what I consider to be a lot of writing, I will print off a page from one of the numerous pdfs I've downloaded for free. The Measured Mom has a bunch, as well as This Reading Mama. Just search for alphabet or letter pages. Our 4yo is probably capable of doing more than focusing on the sounds of each letter (which is what Get Ready does) and if she were in ps, I'm sure they would have her reading and memorizing sight words, but she's not asking for more. One thing I have learned from these boards is that just because a kid is capable of something, doesn't necessarily mean they should do it. I have seen it with my oldest dd; she seemed ready to plugging on with 1st grade math, but I think taking things at a slower pace would have been better for her. I bring this up because many of us start out so gung-ho and we want to do all the things and check off the boxes and have super smart kids, but sometimes slow and steady, though it's not glamorous, is the better option.

Edited by knitgrl
Mistyped name of curriculum
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I personally LOVED OPGTR. I loved the open and go, the scripted-ness, and the fact that it was the only book I needed. We used the Phonics Museum app as well and we did Memoria Press Jr. K and now we're doing MP K.

Edited by mamaheg
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