Tag: english reading

Review: Explode the Code Online

Age: 8 & 9

Thumper was a late reader.  She learned to read Chinese around 7.5 and English around 8.5.  I like to console myself by thinking that’s only late if you think in terms of US schools. If a child goes to school at age 7, learning to read either language between 7-9 sounds about right.

By the end of last school year, we’d hit a road block with All About Spelling.  Knowing her open and close syllables and how to segment a word definitely lead her to start reading Early Readers.  But once she hit the longer words in higher level books, she couldn’t pronounce it.

She needed more work with her phonics.  She was doing fine learning the digraphs and diphthongs in spelling, because each chapter in AAS focused on one sound, but she couldn’t use it when she read.  We learned when c should be /s/ sound and when it should be /k/, but she never remembered when she read.

It was time to try something else.

Since we were traveling in the fall, I decided to buy Explode the Code, online version, through Homeschool Buyer’s Club.  It’s only $35 a year for the subscription.  Explode the Code is published by the same company that sells Primary Phonics.  At $35, it’s a great deal compared with having to buy the actual books. (more…)

Learning to Read in English is Hard!

fullsizerender-3Thumper, it’s 10:30pm, you need to go to sleep.”

“Oh oh, but this is the exciting part!  Just 5 more minutes!”

Never thought I’d see the day that Thumper is engrossed and binge reading in English.  To me, the road to reading in English was actually way more painful than learning to read in Chinese.  In my faulty mind, I spent maybe 3-4 painful months, max 6, zooming through Sagebooks, learning zhuyin, and then we were off reading.   In the year since then, we went from learning the first 500 characters and not reading to reading without zhuyin (~4th grade).

On the other hand, learning to read in English seemingly took us two years.  Okay, so maybe half of that was only half-ass attempt at teaching phonics.  But still, I definitely feel like the effort has been much, much, much more painful.   Heck, for a period of time, Thumper actually said that she would much rather read in Chinese than English.  I was starting to worry just a little because it seemed her English and Chinese reading level had a 2+ year gap.

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Making Sense of English Reading Levels

I obsess over reading levels.  Just a little bit.

It’s hard to not obsess when you decide that English comes second to Chinese.  While I know, logically, that if my kids have really high level Chinese, it will take them probably at most 1 to 2 years to catch up to English.  I know, logically, they get good English input from their father, and that is super important to reading and writing.  But I still worry.

So here’s how I assuage my worry, by looking up English reading levels.  This way I can say, my kid is 1 grade behind or my kid is at grade level in English!  Yay!  At the same time, I know there is more to reading that cannot be seen by a simple letter or number.

But I cannot escape from measurements against a standard. (more…)

English Phonics: Primary Phonics

I’m procrastinating by writing posts instead of planning.  I started the year with a big bang as usual and petered out after about a week.  sigh

That said, I’m still planning away, just with many low days and some high days.

One of my goals for this year is to teach Thumper how to read in English.  Last year, I only had energy for her to review her short vowel sounds and work on some sight words.  It wasn’t planned, but it worked out perfectly because she can now read in Chinese.

The series we’re using to learn to read is Primary Phonics.  You can get it at Rainbow Resource for much cheaper than Amazon.  For me, this set is perfect for Thumper, who already knew all of her alphabet sounds and had practiced reading at school, but now needs more practice.  I feel like already knowing all the sounds first, and learning to read words first, makes it easier to the children.  I remember Thumper getting very frustrated with the BOB books for that reason, just too many things going on.

There are 6 sets, 10 books each.  We’ve been doing 2-3 books a day when we remember, for the last 2-3 weeks, and have progressed from set 2 to set 3.  The first set was all on short vowel sounds.  The second set long vowels and magic E (made, cake, etc), and the third set is on blends, first two vowels, then two consonants together.

I’m loving the set so far.  I tried to be cheap by printing out a free phonics set online.  But it only had 18 little booklets and by the 7th and 8th book, I knew it was just progressing way too fast.  Thumper had a lot of trouble sounding out words and reading smoothly.  So I bit the bullet and ordered sets 3 and 4 from Rainbow Resource.  So far so good.  The books are written so there’s repetition of words and focus on specific sounds for each book.  We go through the list of focus words on the inner flap before we read, and I let her read a few pages so ensure she gets it and then just go away and listen with half a year.  The other day we went biking and she read a whole phrase on the bike map, which let met know that she’s really learned those vowel blends finally.

You can buy workbooks and comprehension books along that match each set.  I like the workbooks because Thumper likes to go through and color the pictures and do the exercises for fun.  It’s also an easy way to turn in to our charter school when it’s time to collect samples.  I’m not sure if comprehension is necessary.  I read this book once wrote by a veteran homeschooling mom, who basically said that when you learn to read it’s about sounding out the words, not necessarily about comprehension, because the children are spending all their efforts on learning to read already, why are we asking them to also think about what they’re reading at the same time?  You can do comprehension with other non-learning to read activities.  That logic makes sense to me.

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