As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I am a mean, mean mama and I am making Nasko do some schooling through the summer. He has made great progress since coming home from the orphanage, but he is still so far behind. So, someday, when he's graduating from high school, he'll thank me. Or maybe not.
This summer, I decided we needed to continue to focus on the letters of the alphabet (so much learning is based on them), but I wasn't sure what we had done throughout the year was actually teaching him the letters. He had learned matching (like, the worksheet might say, "circle the 'N'", and after I showed him one 'N', he could complete it), but he wasn't memorizing or retaining the letter names very well.
One day, in desperation, I called Rainbow Resources. Apparently they are huge in the homeschool world. I know many of the people who work there though, because they are based near my hometown! In fact, my former Sunday School teacher is pictured on their homepage!
So anyway, I called Rainbow Resources in a desperate state. I didn't really know what I thought they could do for me, but thankfully they must field phone calls like mine rather regularly! I spoke with a gal in the curriculum department and gave her a five-minute description of the ball of crazy that is the Naskonator. I also mentioned that I'm a rather busy mom (I don't actually sit on my couches, I just vacuum them) and I didn't have time to reinvent the wheel. In addition, I mentioned that we were going to be on the road quite a bit this summer, and we needed something that traveled well.
After listening to my life story, my kid's life story, and my dog's life story, this gal gave me two curriculum suggestions. She walked me through each one, and told me to look up reviews and see which one I thought would work best for Nasko.
After reading reviews and seeking out a few friends, I decided to take the plunge with All About Reading - Pre-Reading.
The curriculum was developed by a mom of a special needs boy who was struggling to retain basic reading and phonics skills.
So, approximately four days a week (I'm not going to lie - it's summer. Sometimes it doesn't get done) we are using this curriculum.
Honestly, the curriculum is so simple.
Everyday we focus on a different letter. There is a poem for each letter. I also choose to read previous poems as a review. Nasko seems to be memorizing them somewhat.
There's a coloring/activity page for each letter. For example, we colored the letter 'B' and then used a pencil eraser dipped in blue paint to make blueberries.
Finally, there's a silly zebra puppet (actually we use a zebra beanie baby) named Ziggy. Ziggy is in charge of teaching skills like rhyming. One day, Ziggy couldn't remember the names of Nasko's body parts. He thought a shoulder was a "holder" and an eye was called a "sky." Nasko had to correct that silly zebra.
Some days there are rhyming flash cards. Nasko has always struggled with separating the beginning sounds from a word, (like, "does 'rake' start with the 'rrrr' sound?) but by teaching rhyming first, I feel like he's learning to separate larger sound groups before we get to specific sounds.
Finally, the curriculum suggests reading for 20 uninterrupted minutes each day. Nasko was pretty resistant to reading in the past, so I wasn't sure how this would go, but he's doing so well. I think that he likes knowing that the timer will go off in 20 minutes, and we don't actually have to read for the rest of eternity.
I've added to the daily curriculum (because I'm an educator and can't just leave it alone) in two ways:
We're doing the Handwriting Without Tears that we started during the school year. I really think that program is great for Nasko, and he constantly needs fine motor practice.
I've also added flashcards. Nasko needs the rote memorization aspect of learning his letters and eventually sight words. He has been working hard on these since the beginning of May. I am SO proud of him and the progress he has made. I promised him a new iPad game (not a free one) when he learned half of the letters. He achieved this goal when we were at camp two weeks ago.
I took a video of him doing his flashcards this week. It makes me cry happy tears EVERY time I watch it:
(And yes, he associates the letter 'U' with being the same shape as his Taty's retainer. Weird. Boys are weird.)
Because of the constant flashcard drilling here, I have a 12-month old who also learning his letters. About a month ago, he shocked me when I was doing Nasko's flashcards and Louis started trying to answer the question, "What letter is this?"
So, I'd say that summer school is going very well here!