Monday, April 18, 2011

A few minutes a day is really all it takes!

A lot of people are turned off to teaching sight words to their kids because they think it is a huge, undertaking of time - it really isn't.  Preparing cards takes a little longer, but there are premade cards or reading programs that require little or no preperation.

We loosely follow a Doman reading program to teach our dd to read.  Our flashcard sessions have always been very fast. I have a farm, a home business, a couple of volunteer positions, and 4 kids who are involved in sports, etc. - for many reasons, I need to be efficient! I also believe that babies and little kids learn very quickly. Much more quickly than adults and by going slowly, they can easily become bored and lose interest. Even now, with such a strong love of flashcards and words, if I pick up a set of cards and slowly wander through them, K will quickly lose interest and walk away.

I can't emphasize enough, how much of a difference speed has made to our reading program. Some programs encourage matching and other games. Other programs say to make sure the child knows each word before moving on. Neither of these things would have worked for us for 2 reasons.

1. My dd was only 6 months old when we started (sporadic as we were then) and nonverbal. Even when we became fairly consistent at 18 months, although we weren't certain at the time, she still had a reading level that exceeded her vocabulary even if you include sign language. That, and the fact that we were careful not to let K feel any pressure, meant that it was a long and sometimes excruciating wait to see if she was retaining any words or if we had been wasting our time for almost 1 1/2 years! Had we wanted to be sure that she learned each word before we continued, we wouldn't have been able to start so young.

2. K wouldn't have, and still won't stay interested if we go over the same words over and over. Presently we are showing 40 to 60 new cards a week ( I. The beginning it was only 5 or 10. We have settled into aschedule of doing cards 5 days a week - she pretty well knows them by day 3, has them down cold by day 4 and as a day of review. If we forget to change them that, you can tell she is starting to get bored - she will insist on holding the cards herself, and generally just become difficult. She is always excited to get a new set of cards!

When K was a baby, our flashcard sessions took 1 minute 4 times a day at the most. Right now our flashcard sessions take less than 5 minutes each, still 4 times a day.

A few minutes a day has been a better return on my investment than I ever imagined!

UPDATE:  I times a flashcard session tonight to see how long it actually takes us.  K is learning 51 new words this week - we didn't do nearly this many when she was young.  Because he flashcards don't often contain pictures now, we often quickly flip through them 2 or 3 times.  Even doing this, her entire session was done in 3 minutes & 32 seconds. 

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