Saturday, September 29, 2012

Books for Beginning Readers

I received an email from a reader who was wondering about books for her beginning reader. I have a few suggestions but I am wondering if anyone else can suggest some more?

I ran across your blog today while browsing for a reading program for my son, who is an 8 year old with down syndrome. My son is, with the reluctance of our school, in 2nd grade with his twin brother who does not have down syndrome.

He is the first child in our school district to attend here, and not be sent to the co-op for special needs kids.

I was so happy to find your blog and I hope you can give me some pointers and advice....

My son has a big list of sight words he's learned in kindergarten and 1st grade....
I have started putting sight words in sentence form for him this year and he is coming along great with them...

SOOO this is my question--  Do you know of books that I could continue with...maybe pictures and that sort of thing
so that he is actually reading BOOKS...   He sees brother reading and he goes to find his sentences,
but I know he can do more and feel great if he has actual BOOKS like everyone else.

Our school has not been real supportive...  I'm not sure if it's because they don't know what to do next, or that they feel they are just babysitting him throughout the day.  He's growing tired of being quizzed on sight word flashcards though.

Either way...  I've got to find this little guy some books so that he can be proud of his accomplishments!

Anything you can think of will be great!

It's hard to know without knowing a little more about your son's reading ability but my first thought is that if he is interested, home made books are great because you can make them on any subject that he is interested in & include the words that he knows.  I started with pics of the family & different fun activities & sometimes just used google images to find pictures of things my daughter was interested in. We also used books like this to teach important concepts such as when K started preschool at age 3 we made a book to teach her about school routines. We usually laminated these books so they lasted well.

The Orange County DS association has some books that are free to download. Here is the link.  As I said, they are free, but you do need to register:

 If he would prefer commercial print books then depending on how many sight words he knows, there are some books or sets of books available.  Here are some that K liked which are available from Scholastic books.  They are simple & repetitive.  If your son doesn't know all of the words you can make some flashcards of the unfamiliar words & teach the to him prior to showing him the book.

We bought these 2nd hand but I think these are part of at least a couple of sets. We also have some with totally different subjects like parties & roller coasters.

I like that the sentences are simple & repetitive so kids don't have to know a lot of words to read them. They are pretty short in length too - around a dozen pages.

There are lots of simple phonics book sets too that you may want to check into.  This blog post has an example of a pretty simple set: "If I Were a Beep"

Often I would take board books that only had a few simple words & use them for reading however with an 8 year old that may or may not work.  Will he think they are too babyish? If not I'd check into this because there are lots of books with either single words or just a few words.

We are now using mainly leveled readers.  They are nice because they are fairly consistant in the amount of sentences on each page & have fairly good sized letters. If  your son has a large enough vocabulary this might be an option.

So, has anyone else got some good books to suggest?

I also posted this on FaceBook.  Sandra added a couple of suggestions:

How about the higher level Bob Books, Dr Seuss, Frog and Toad, Danny The Dinasouar, Dick and Jane stuff 

Thanks Sandra & those of you who commented below. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Back to School Thoughts

K headed back to school last week. I am having some mixed feeling this year.  She turned 5 about 3 months ago so is eligible for kindergarten but we have decided to wait one more year before starting.

Academically there is no reason for holding her back & it seems strange to me to see many of her little buddies, both in person & online head to kindergarten without her.  However, there are a number of reason for waiting.  Physically she is on the small side & not able to run as quickly as her same age peers.  K's speech is good & improving by the day, but is also not equal to that of most of her peers. I often think she is less mature than many kids her age although after spending a couple of days with her class I had to wonder at times! lol

My husband & I also wrestled with the question of whether or not to hold back one of our older daughters.  This particular daughter was born in mid December.  KJ was the only one of my kids who I wished would have been born 5 or 6 days late rather than a week early - this would have put her birthday in January & solved my concerns by missing the cutoff. I would have even put up with an extra week of  pregnancy - a 8.5 months of morning sickness type of pregnancy!

While looking into the option of holding back KJ, we researched as well as talked to a lot of parents. We talked to a number of parents who regretted sending their kids early but I have yet to talk to a parent who wished they hadn`t held their child back.

I believe that holding KJ back allowed her to be more confident & become a leader within her class.  School work has also come easily to her as it did her big sisters who were both born in the early months of the year.

This article on kindergarten readiness sums up what I feel as well.

 My expectation is that K will do everything that her peers will do in school & I feel that giving her one more year to prepare will help her to succeed. Once she starts kindergarten we will not hold her back as we feel it will be best for her to stay with the same bunch of friends that she starts with.

I admit to having another motive for holding K back. Her neurodevelopmental program takes quite a bit of time & by holding K back we will have one more year to concentrate on it.  The program has allowed her to progress much more quickly than any mainstream program so another year will be great.  Of course we will continue to do a neurodevelopmental program when she is in school but once she hits grade 1 it will not be possible to focus nearly the same amount of time on it.

As an added bonus, I get to enjoy having her at home for an extra year:) ..........Yes, it's hard for me to see my baby grow up sometimes even though we have worked with K practically since she was born to prepare her to be independent. 

We are so pleased that we are able to offer a preschool in our tiny community. It is organized & run by the parents who hire a teacher & fund raise to be able to keep fees very reasonable, buy toys & supplies etc. The preschool had a bit of a glitch with getting a teachers aide in place for the start of school on Monday so as president & founder of the organization, I was asked to step in as a parent volunteer to help get preschool up & running smoothly. 

After being able to spend 2 days in the classroom, I am confident that we made the right choice. My biggest concern at this point is still about K being bored when the other kids are working on academic concepts that are much to easy for K. For example, they did one activity involving placing some little glass stones on letters on the coconut tree from the Chicka Chicka Boom Boom story. K's boredom became evident in her refusal to cooperate partway through the game.  She was eventually persuaded to join in again but wasn't thrilled with the idea.  Next they identified numbers from 1 to 10 & although this is equally simple for her, the fact that they swatted the numbers with a modified fly swatter made it so much fun that she had a blast.

K did well in gym class although she is often the first one to follow when another child is running around out of turn or jumping, playing etc when they aren't supposed to be.  For the vast majority of the time though she is doing well.  The extra year (& probably our summer running program) has made quite a difference in her ability to keep up with the others.  She also quickly understands the games they play & joins in easily.

I even notice little things like the fact that she isn't always the last in line on the way back from the gym as she often was in past years & that she is much more self disciplined about eating her sandwich before her snack at lunch time. 

Most importantly she seems to have really overcome her shyness & is playing well with the other kids in her class.  K has spent much more time with older kids & adults & in the past & because of that, has been a little more reserved with kids her own age.  It was wonderful to see her join in when the other kids were playing with horses & to initiate playing dress up.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Riding on the Beach

This summer we went on many short trips with our new holiday trailer.  Here is K riding her Strider bike during our trip to the beach.