Okay, I will admit, I certainly ended that last post about “Playing Catch-Up” pretty abruptly.
It’s just that I suddenly realized everything spilling forth from my brain would never “fit” into a single post, without intensely torturing some of my dearest friends and family.
So I broke it down into two, but then didn’t have any remaining energy to tie up all the loose ends.
The giant flash cards were scrapped, we had many fun summer adventures, and I sat down in early August to plan for the upcoming school year.
I decided to use Sing, Spell, Read and Write for Gabrielle’s first year at home.
I chose this curriculum for a few reasons:
1) I have used it successfully with several of my other children.
2) It is a very thorough phonics-based approach to reading.
2) I knew Gabby would appreciate the mulitsensory approach which includes colorful pictures, games, and songs.
We warmed up first with a full review of the alphabet.
We practiced letter formation and made certain she was rock solid on all her basic phonics sounds.
She practiced writing “Gabby” at the top of every worksheet..
Most days, she was very eager and willing to complete her school work…
but occasionally a hurdle like the letter ‘K’ would leave her with tears of frustration streaming down chubby cheeks.
Of course my dear friend Julie shared a little rhyme that she used with her girls when forming the letter ‘K’, and it really turned Gabby’s attitude around:
“Start at his head, pull down to his feet. Then Kick him in the belly and he’ll kick it out.”
Fine motor tasks can still be a struggle for my sweet girl, but I decided not to dwell on the difficult and instead move forward with her strengths.
She mastered all 26 phonic sounds and was ready to begin blending them into words.
Now I know even with my typical children that this step in learning to read can be a challenge.
They’re juggling all these sounds in their heads and they need to quickly associate the correct sound with the right symbol, all the while listening for the word that the abstractions magically create.
I was pretty much dreading moving forward into this stage. It was as though I was expecting problems.
I knew my patience would be tested. I knew her determination would be tried.
I asked for prayer and was really blessed by the reminders that I in turn received.
One sweet friend replied…
“Of course, as you would agree I’m sure, each kid has their thing that I KNOW God specifically placed in them to teach ME big things, dying-to-self things.”
Wow, I reflected, of course. God is using this very circumstance to teach me, to refine me.
I stopped looking for upcoming roadblocks and instead focused my attention on pouring love and encouragement into my sweet girl, and trusting Him.
We began learning “The Ferris Wheel Song” from Sing, Spell, Read, and Write.
It familiarizes your child with simple consonant vowel blends using music:
She learned the song quite easily but was having trouble carrying the blends over to sounding out simple 3 letter words.
She would say each sound independently in the word c-a-t, but was unable to combine the sounds into a word she recognized.
She would sound out c – aaaaaa – t and then say, “Sit!”
I recalled another one of my children having a similar struggle.
I remembered the approach used in 100 Easy Lessons had really helped my other child, so I added this to our daily to-do list.
In this program the child is instructed to enunciate the word slooowly, as they touch underneath each letter sound. Then they go back and say it fast.
This concept of saying words slowly and then saying them fast is rehearsed throughout many of the early lessons. It took Gabby a couple of days to really grasp this idea, but once she did, we were off to the races.
One of the coolest things about homeschooling is that you can progress at the perfect pace for your child. There is no “ahead” nor “behind”.
So we are presently 1/4 of the way through this book and we still have days when one or two words trip her up. She’ll say each individual phonics sound correctly but then struggles to blend them into a word.
It is very frustrating for both of us.
Just recently we hit a big, ugly wall.
It involved the 3 letter word S-A-D.
She would sound it out perfectly and then when it was time to say it fast she would shout out any word that popped into her head.
I refused to yield. I knew she could do this.
It took 30 minutes of persevering. No lie.
While I tried to remain calm and patient in my efforts with Gabby…
Logan engaged in all-out body art with the markers. I replaced the markers with a bin of crayons.
He decided a game of 199 pick-up was in order, scattering them all over the kitchen floor.
It was then that the bowl of goldfish was accidentally sent flying off the edge of the table.
Makinley stood beside me expecting praise for her latest masterpiece and there was an argument that needed to be settled.
I grew increasingly frayed…
but still I waited for Gabby to recognize the word she was sounding out.
It was like an intense game of Mad Gab.
She stalled and attempted to distract me from the task at hand.
Her antics were so far-fetched, they were almost humorous.
But I was ALL in, fully invested, there was no turning back now. I would see this thing through to the end if it killed me.
This was one of those situations where extreme stubbornness pays off.
And when that tiny,
finally rolled across her lips…
and her eyes lit up in recognition…
we both needed a nap.
She truly did scamper off to her bedroom, without instruction, and slept for several hours.
I on the other hand grabbed a second cup of coffee and relished this one small victory.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. - 2 Corinthians 12:9