A Balanced Reading Program for Homeschool: Book Pack GIVEAWAY

February 13, 2012

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Book of the Week GIVEAWAY:

  • I Like Bugs by Margaret Wise Brown
  • The Mysterious Tadpole by Steven Kellogg
  • If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff
  • A Book About Your Skeleton by Ruth Belov Gross

Why we love these books:

In observance of Valentine’s Day, the holiday of L-O-V-E, we are celebrating our love affair with books. Joyce is once again sharing her fabulous book find with all of you! Just a way for us to share our L-O-V-E for books with you.

One of the first questions I get asked when people find out I homeschool is about what curriculum I use. This is a bit tricky as I tend to develop most of my own curriculum. My background includes a BS degree with a specialization in reading and a certification as a Reading Recovery Teacher. When it comes to teaching reading in the classroom and homeschool, I am all about balance! Our reading program is flexible and evolves as the children grow and change. However, there are 5 basic components that are consistent. I’m sure this post will be way too long, but I’ll attempt to keep it concise and come back to each component over the next few weeks.

A Balanced Reading Program

1. Books, Books, Books!

  • Yes, I could purchase an expensive reading curriculum, but my most valuable tool is my library card! Our home is overflowing with books.
  • Learning to read without books is like learning to swim without ever getting in the water!

2. Reading Aloud

  • That means ME reading aloud to my children (not my children reading aloud)
  • The first goal of reading aloud to children is reading for enjoyment! Learning to read should be fun not a chore.
  • The second goal is to model what a good reader sounds like, fluent and expressive.
  • Third, reading aloud introduces children to new vocabulary and concepts that they could not read independently.
  • In the classroom, I read to my students throughout the day. I read aloud story books, math books, science books, history books, easy pattern books, chapter books . . .  the list goes on . . .
  • At home, I began reading to my little babies when they were about 6 weeks old. They’ve been read to every single day of their lives. I read to them throughout the day and Daddy reads to them each and every night.
  • 10 Favorite Read Alouds for Children
  • And yes we also need to read to our older children!
  • Reading Aloud to Older Children

3. Guided Reading

4. Independent Reading

  • As with reading aloud, this should be an opportunity for children to read for enjoyment.
  • In general, these should be books that lean more towards the easy than the challenging. Reading for meaning and enjoyment is quite difficult if a child is reading word by word, struggling to sound out the majority of the words.
  • Independent Reading for Older Children
  • In preschool, kindergarten and first grade these books should be easy, familiar books first introduced during guided reading.

  • In preschool and kindergarten this may also simply be a quiet time to “look” at books independently.

5. Phonics or Word Work

  • Reading and writing go hand in hand. One cannot really be taught without the other.
  • At the preschool, kindergarten and first grade level the focus is developing a core of familiar words.

  • Young children learn the connection between letters, sounds and words.
    •  “If you can write the word cat, you can read the word cat. If you know the word cat, you know the words bat, fat, mat, sat . . .”

  • After reviewing many phonics programs, I decided Alpha-phonics was the right fit for us. It is a concise, organized, step by step approach to phonics. Each lesson is short and narrowly focused. Not a lot of skill and drill, not a lot of flashcards, not a lot of junk I have to make! My favorite approach, “low-maintenance.”
  • I was shocked to read reviews about other programs that stated, “Yes, this works but my kids hate it!” The last thing I want to do is make my children hate reading. I suggest you skip those programs, even if they are recommended.

We do a little bit of this and that just about every day. I guess when you put it all together we spend about an hour a day on reading. Some days a little more, some days a little less. But once again the focus is on a balanced program. Within each of these components an abundance of instruction and learning is occurring. And each of these components, looks very different for each child at each level of development. My goal is to spend some time on each of these components at a variety of levels in the upcoming weeks.

In the mean time start collecting books and I’ll see you back here! You’ll need easy, just right and challenging books for your children.

Life with Jeannine


  • I Like Bugs by Margaret Wise Brown
  • The Mysterious Tadpole by Steven Kellogg
  • If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff
  • A Book About Your Skeleton by Ruth Belov Gross

To enter this contest, just answer the following question in the comments section of this post.

Did you enjoy learning to read when you were a child? I know for both Joyce and me, it was a terribly miserable and scary experience. (Or just say “Hey.” We’re flexible around here.)

The Rules:

One entry per person, please.

No entries after 8:00 pm Central Time, Thursday, February 16, 2012

The winner must be a resident of The United States.

The winner will be selected at random and announced Friday, February 17, 2012. Check back to claim your prize. It might be you!

Sharing this week at:

abc and 123 learning

Hip Homeschool Moms

Homeschooling on the Cheap

Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

maryanne @ mama smiles February 13, 2012 at 4:28 pm

I don’t know if I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t scary! I was essentially unschooled until I was 7, when I decided I wanted to go to school. BUT I needed to learn to read, so I could start in second grade. My mom had just had a baby, and she didn’t have time to help much. She gave me phonics worksheets and tapes, and I learned mostly on my own – and my 4yo brother learned right alongside me. When I started school two months later, I was one of the best readers in my class!

Brandy February 13, 2012 at 5:01 pm

I don’t remember hating learning to read, so I must have enjoyed it. I did LOVE to read then and also now. When I taught elem. school, reading was one of my very favorite subjects to teach too.

Natalie February 13, 2012 at 5:25 pm

I learned to read before 3 and don’t remember not being able to read. Same is true for my daughter. She certainly enjoys being the best reader in her K – she is reading on 4th grade level now :) When I taught her to read, I used all the methods you describe, and I still read a lot to her – just as an activity that we both enjoy!

Anissa February 13, 2012 at 6:31 pm

I can’t remember not knowing how to read as I was reading by 3. I was mainly self taught, but I did have my great-grandmother read to me often. My daughter did the same thing but my son is stubbornly clinging to not reading at 4 1/2. I am not forcing him but I am surprised that he isn’t reading more given all the exposure he gets from his big sister! He seems to love it but it just hasn’t clicked yet for him and given his age he has time!

Katrina February 13, 2012 at 6:41 pm

I was not a huge fan of school as a child. I do love reading and ended up a librarian though :)

Amy B. February 13, 2012 at 7:39 pm

I have always enjoye reading! I remember in school always waiting for the Blueonnet List and reading all the books. I still enjoy reading and every night we read as a family and they husband and I also read our own books.

Tara February 13, 2012 at 8:58 pm

I don’t remember when I learned to read. I never appreciated reading growing up so I am trying to change that with my boys!

Lauren February 14, 2012 at 6:06 pm

Growing up, I had a love/hate relationship with reading… The actual reading process was always easy and even enjoyable for me, but I went through stages where it was really difficult for me to find books and topics that I was interested in.

Danielle February 16, 2012 at 12:21 am

I found reading to be challenging as a child. However, my mom always read to me and captured my imagination. Now I love watching my children’s enthusiasm towards books and sharing a story together.

Vanessa February 16, 2012 at 12:25 am

I absolutely loved reading as a youngster and still do! My mom incorporated reading experiences into our daily routine and has read aloud to me all the time. Curling up with a great book makes reading enjoyable.

Ruby February 16, 2012 at 8:43 am

I always loved to read. Couldnt wait to get to the library. My mother always read to us at night, ( bedtime stories ). Dr. Suess, Aesops Fables and Grimms Fairytales.. I do the same for my kids now and I can see the love for reading in them.

Wendy Clark February 16, 2012 at 11:54 am

I don’t remember learning to read, but I have always loved to read. Still do! I love t see my kiddos reading too!

Loni February 16, 2012 at 12:28 pm

I loved books and being read to! I was a struggling reader when i was young, but as a got older i really grew a love for it!

Bridget February 16, 2012 at 1:47 pm

I loved reading as a little kid, from the get go, but I have a specific book and a specific age when it really took off for me. The book was St. Francis of Assisi by Fr. Lovasik and the time was the beginning of fourth grade, my first year being homeschooled. For some reason, reading that book on my own started me off on a path that I am still on today. I’m still trying to find “that” book for my oldest son, 6, who is just learning to read. Great post!

toni clark February 16, 2012 at 2:14 pm

I was a fast learner and learned to read by the first grade, but I never enjoyed it until I started homeschooling my two lovelies. I read to them constantly when they couldn’t read. Now that they can, I have started reading to be that good role model and what do you know… I love it.

Molly L February 16, 2012 at 3:42 pm

nope i hated it. in fact I didn’t really read fluently until 6th grade. The way they teach it in public school is just not how I learn.
But my 5 year old is doing very well with a little prompting and a few bribes of goldfish crackers. ;)

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