I am in the middle of teaching my fourth child to read. One thing I’ve learned, is that none of my children have learned to read in the same way or timing. When we got the opportunity to review Memoria Press’s First Start Reading, I knew it was perfect timing for Peyton’s school year!
My 6-year-old, began blending three-letter words in September, but she has struggled with remembering the sounds for each letter. When she learns new sounds/blends she often forgets the sounds of letters she learned earlier in the year- especially the different sounds of vowels. So when First Start Reading came we started over at the beginning with book A and very basic blending.
The phonics programs I used with my older three children all used a consonant-vowel blending. The vowel-consonant blending used in First Start Reading is much more intuitive. My kindergartener really struggled with word endings using the consonant-vowel blending method, but First Start Phonics is helping her blend and recognize word endings with greater speed and accuracy. I see her frustration level diminish using this method. First Start Phonics also practices new phonograms in word family lists. Learning that -an always says ‘an’ while -am says ‘am’ just makes sense to me, and to my kindergartener.
The teacher’s manual begins with a phonics overview, which I really appreciate, since many parents learned using the whole language approach. Each lesson is reprinted in the teacher’s manual with the lesson plans and teacher script (in italics) below. You absolutely must use the teacher’s manual for this program, the meat of teaching is in the manual. My daughter and I love the ear training section of each lesson included in the teacher’s manual. Phonemic awareness is so often overlooked- children cannot learn phonics without first learning to differentiate the sounds they hear!
My children often get frustrated in early phonics learning- they expect to quickly and suddenly be able to read real stories. In First Start Reading the first story is in book A lesson 23, so Peyton didn’t have to wait long for the excitement of reading a real story. Since the story only contains 11 words she’d learned in the previous lessons she was delighted to read it independently immediately.
Peyton already had some understanding of short a words, so she moved quickly through book A, finishing it in about two weeks. We’d been unsuccessful adding the other short vowels without frustration earlier in the school year, but First Start Reading Book B is going very smoothly this month. With First Start she added short i, then short o words to her reading ability! I’m looking forward to moving steadily through books C and D as the school year wraps up, likely continuing through the summer.
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