The Faith and Freedom Primer an excellent tool for teaching children to read high-frequency sight words with fluency. Once a word is introduced, it is used repeatedly throughout the book so you child does not forget it. Junior has learned to read all three parts of the primer, and he is now learning to read the next book in this series without any adaptations!
Once in a while I come across a pedagogical gem. The Faith and Freedom Primer is one of these. It is actually a combination of 3 smaller books, written in the 1950s to teach children how to sight read high frequency words. I’ve used it with all of my kids to teach them how to read sight words alongside teaching them how to decode phonetically. The book is a gem not just because it teaches children to read sightwords incrementally and systematically, but also because it portrays the Catholic faith and family life in a gentle and beautiful way.
Since Junior had been learning to read sight words with See and Learn Phrases, I decided to adapt the Faith and Freedom Primer according to the recommendations laid out by Natalie Hale, in her book Whole Child Reading. Junior would often pull the original primer off our bookshelf and pretend to read it, so I thought, “Why not adapt it for him and see if he can learn to read it?”
In the book, author Natalie Hale gives specific instructions on how to format and make your own books so that your kids can read with greater ease and success. So I began making books. I made personal books, because Junior, like most kids, likes to read about himself and his family. I also made books using words from the See and Learn Phrases kits.
When my oldest was a kindergartener, I wrote some super short stories to help her learn to read. I then used them to teach all my other kids to read, along with a variety of other phonics books. Variety is the spice of life, so it is good to give your emerging readers a mixture of books with which they can learn to read.
Once your child is ready and willing (at least most of the time!) to learn how to read, the third key to the door of literacy is easy to obtain.
Back in the days when I was a piano teacher, I had to teach children as young as five to read music. For most children, learning to read music is even more challenging than learning to read words. A single note has pitch, duration, volume, and articulation. When you give a child a string of notes to read in the treble clef and a completely different set of notes to read in the bass clef, you are asking the child to process several things at once. A lot of mental exertion is needed, so much so that the only way to learn the music is by repetition, repetition, repetition.
When Feisty was just about five, he was ready to learn reading. My precocious whipper-snapper had shown all the signs of readiness. But he was far from willing. He had done all the readiness activities happily enough. To him, it had all been a game. However, when we started with Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, he balked. Perhaps the book looked too much like an adult’s book, with all those little letters for the parents to read. Perhaps all those oral exercises were too boring. I’m not sure. (By the way, I know many people who swear by this book. It really does work if you can get your child to co-operate.) But when Feisty decides he doesn’t want to do something, you’d better give up… unless you’re as headstrong as he is.
When I first began homeschooling, I read a book that said, “Teaching your child to read is easy.” And it was… for my first child and for my second. You see, there are two conditions that need to be fulfilled in order for a child to learn to read with ease: Readiness and Willingness. For the most part, my first two children were ready and willing when I decided it was time to begin reading lessons. They learned to read quickly and easily.
But then my third and fourth children came along. All of a sudden, teaching reading became really challenging.