A Multisensory Approach to Reading Instruction.
Teaching Adeline to read has become one of those full circle moments for me. As a former elementary school teacher--turned mother--turned homeschooling mom, guiding our youngest child through this beautiful process has been incredibly special.
Over the past couple of years, I've combined our favorite resources and ideas from the Waldorf, Charlotte Mason, Classical and Montessori methods to blend a multisensory approach to reading instruction. We keep the lessons short and fun, while engaging all five senses!
I love beginning with this beautiful Waldorf Alphabet book, to introduce the letter sounds. We spent the year creating our own binder, in a similar style using high quality art paper, our very favorite paints and watercolor pencils.
Throughout this time we 'taste' and 'smell' each of the letters. This, more than most other activities, has generated some of Adeline's most memorable moments from homeschool this year. She still talks about it: "Remember when I tasted letter 'L,' mama? The lemon was so sour!"
She also developed a "feel" for the letters, using clay to create the letter shapes. And kinesthetic learners may also enjoy using their bodies to make the letter shape, which is especially fun when siblings agree to join in!
As she grew more comfortable with the alphabet, I loved using these Montessori Sandpaper Letters to reinforce phonics. We traced each letter while reciting the sounds it makes in order of frequency. So when we studied O, I had her say aloud "O says ŏ - ō - ö" (as in stop, go, do). Some approaches recommend one sound per letter at a time, but I prefer to introduce all of the sounds together.
Once she became comfortable with tracing, she practices forming letters on her own in this Montessori sand tray. This was a more natural progression from tracing perfect letter shapes to drawing in a fun medium (as opposed to trying to write on lined paper right away).
As she began to string together letter sounds and read simple words, I introduced the Montessori small wooden movable alphabet set. Having her move each letter as she says its sound was an excellent exercise for her to see the words take form! She began with this set of Bob Books, while they don't have my favorite illustrations, it's an effective early reader series. She would read the words she recognized and build unfamiliar ones with the movable letters to work on sounding them out.
As she improved her confidence with the simple words, we introduced phonogram cards and followed lessons similar to the Writing Road to Reading program. She created a new page in her binder for each phonogram, we will use to collect words and study spelling in the years to come.
I'm trying to savor this process of teaching my youngest reading by making some moments more personal and special. One of my favorite ways to do this is to snuggle and read together in our hanging chair. Adeline is having fun reading (she loves the idea of catching up with big brother and big sister) and is currently working on this Dick and Jane Book. The hardcover series are great early readers. Soon she will move on to the Catholic Faith and Freedom Readers series.
If you are new to homeschooling, this may seem a little overwhelming. If that's the case, that's normal - everyone I know felt that way to some degree. The good news is there are many other (less involved) methods!
We've had several friends enjoy using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons ! It is an effective alternative and often available at the local library! I would also suggest the The Writing Road to Reading program.
I should also note, that we only began formal reading lessons with Adeline during her kindergarten year because she was so eager to get started. She was working on letter sounds and trying to write her name on her own. Having an older brother and sister gave her immense motivation and interest in reading!