Last spring, during his first grade year, I described how I taught my son to read. I’m now following the same method with my daughter, with similar results.
He’s now reading small chapter books to himself, so he’s finally moved on to studied dictation. I will show you the process below. I decided to use our first attempt, so that you know what level of proficiency to expect when you start out.
DAY ONE: Select an excerpt. Have them read through it. Discuss the punctuation, spacing, sentence structure, etc.
Use the excerpt for copywork. Below, I wrote it in italic cursive and he copied it in the same style.
DAY TWO: Pick out the words that they find difficult to spell and spend the day practicing them. They might still get some wrong, but they will be fewer than if you don’t practice. He just does this on a piece of scrap paper, covering up each word I’ve written down and attempting to spell it from memory.
DAY THREE: Read it to them, one word at a time (once they get more practice, you can read it to them one phrase and then one sentence at a time), with no repeating, while they write it down from memory. Then have them grade their own work with a red pencil, by comparing to the original text.
And that’s all there is to it. He makes occasional errors, but his writing is improving steadily and he’s getting better at writing unfamiliar words by sounding them out phonetically. We do this instead of formal spelling, as that would be redundant and spelling in context is more effective.
In addition to studied dictation using the McGuffey’s Readers (he’s on the Second Reader now), he also:
- keeps a journal,
- does a weekly written narration for history and an experiment/lab report for science,
- completes an Easy Grammar and Reading Skills assignment,
- and reads aloud to me from his children’s Bible and whichever bit of historical fiction we’re working through.