READING has 3 skills:
Literacy….Learning How to Read Words & Sentences
Fluency….Practicing Reading Skills
Comprehension….Understanding What is Being Read
To help these reading skills “stick”, our “Peppermint Stick” Style combines 4 methods together with the 3 varieties of activities for lots of FUN learning experiences! We also call this a “Blended-Blended” Method.
1. The Phonics or Word Study Method…
…sounding out letters and combinations of letters in order from left to right.
2. The Visual Memory Cues Method and Spelling Patterns…
…the shape of the word and/or a “photo” in the mind of what a word looks like or where it was seen before.
…find little words within big words; recognize parts of words that are the same in words the student already knows and so can expand his/her vocabulary by understanding the sounds of those letter combos will be the same.
3. The Sight Words Method…
…sometimes known as “See and Say”, post it, practice it in repetitive stories… memorize it – these are typical ways to learn sight words. (PSLC curriculum likes to also use method #2 to help method #3 “stick” better!)
4. The Method of Context Clues…
…looking at surrounding words that he/she knows and the picture nearby to guess at what the new word is. This is also the method that most people learn to recognize his/her own name easily as a child – the child keeps seeing his/her name on anything that belongs to him/her such as a name label on a coat or nametag, a birthday card, a photo on a wall, etc.. At the early level, it looks like a child is only “reading a picture” but this IS part of learning to read words because there is a word/picture association going on in these little minds and this association will help them to remember the new words.
And the “Peppermint Stick” Style likes to have a balance
and verbal activities
for all children who want to learn to read!
This includes kindergarten-aged children. We uphold early learning for eager youngsters who’d say,
“Let Me Read!”
For help with the placement of students in a Let Me Read Step level, our tips for teaching struggling readers, or to understand a bit more about different approaches to teaching literacy, please download these (free) pages by clicking on the picture below: (They are in pdf format.)
How long should I expect to spend with my K-3 child teaching READING using PSLC curriculum?
For a parent: Maybe 5 minutes to 15 or 20 minutes, 2-3x a week, in the less-fluent stages. Depending on how much you want to be involved once they are fluent readers, it might take about 5 – 20 minutes for helping in areas of reading comprehension or testing spelling for whatever days you do that but some students are independent for a large portion of that and just would need you occasionally. (An older sibling might also be able to help a younger sibling with these things.) Kindergarten levels are very short but sometimes they like to take their time with our lessons and colour “fancier” or repeat an activity over and over. (We don’t expect a parent to sit beside a child all or even most of the time.)
For a student: If you’re working on a daily schedule for your students, I’d suggest blocking off about 30 minutes for the subject of “Reading” (which includes spelling, phonics, comprehension, reading of a short book or story) for most students (grade 1+) and see how it goes. (If you want to add a “read-aloud” novel, that would be in addition to this amount of time.) And remember, with PSLC curriculum, not all of the time spent in “Reading” class will involve writing in a book. We like a variety of activities instead.
Reality Checkpoint: (For an example of a homeschool schedule, you can read about our family in this series of blog posts which begin here.) If you happen to have a “school-zone” that has lots of regular interruptions (seeing, hearing, or chasing), expect to add in an additional 15 minutes (or more) to cover those factors, depending on your situation. For example, if your household has a baby needing a diaper, a toddler running off with a pencil case, extended family dropping in (or even Daddy), phones ringing or beeping (hint: use an answering service if you can), PSWs or other people coming by often, animals which often escape from pasture or deer which need to be chased away from gardens, indoor active pets, a preschooler of any size, if you live on a flight path of airplanes or helicopters or in a road construction zone or whatever is similar, be honest with yourself and consider your school-day will be longer than the mom who has none or only a few of those things but just manages the quiet routine of all school-aged children and regular household tasks. (Yes, I have experienced some, but very thankfully not all, of those things.) Be realistic when you design your school-day schedule. If you do a lot of chores and character training in the morning and have a together-time to begin your day as a family, it likely means you should expect to accomplish 2-3+ subjects (e.g. reading and math) before lunch-time and then continue on in the afternoon with the remaining studies and skill-building (and naps hopefully for the littles!).
Is PHONICS important?
Sure it is, BUT it should be in balance with other methods of learning to read. “Sequential phonics” (often seen in traditional methods) isn’t the only way children learn to read and if it is presented as the only way, so often the children seem to be held back in reading literacy/fluency, even though they might eventually “get it”. For teaching children to read, I’ve tutored, my mom has taught in classrooms and tutored, we’ve both homeschooled children, and over the years, we’ve discussed this common situation as we either see it and hear about it. One of my comments is that phonics can stick better (quicker and with less “boring drill work”) if derived from a handful of sight words (perhaps about 30 sight words). Example: the sight word “too“, if already known by a child, can easily be used to teach an expanded vocabulary of tool, tools, school – without memorizing the specific phonics “rules” first. Here are a couple of other examples of using sight words in balance with phonics (from our Let Me Read: Step 2 curriculum): in (a sight word) can help a child quickly learn pin, grin, print, into; knowing the sight words “play” and “on”, phonics can be used to substitute the beginnings (also known as working with phonograms) or endings of words to get say, ray, and crayon. In this way, the child “plays with language” to see how letters and words can work with one another, rather than being drilled sounds and rules. Reading becomes more fun instead of anticipating “hard work” if they are “playing with language”. Any phonics rules learned after a child is reading some sentences and stories are then more so about using phonics to confirm literacy concepts seen in examples they know rather than memorizing rules to slowly learn to decipher each word. (It’s more motivating to a young child to be able to read simple stories before having to memorize phonics rules.) My other comments are within the downloadable pdf “Tips for Teaching Older Readers…” (above).
Our phonics curriculum is multi-grade and this idea of using sight words to derive more words is specifically used in our Phonics is Fun: Unit 2 Vowels e-book.
WRITING has 3 aspects to consider:
Printing and Handwriting
Writing Composition (e.g. creative writing)
For these skills, the obvious main activity is of course – writing! Yet our “Peppermint Stick” curriculum loves to include some hands-on and oral aspects too! This twist really helps children strengthen their fine motor co-ordination, build confidence, and develop independent learning to express their thoughts effectively.
Currently, we offer printing and handwriting curriculum for Grades JK-4, a bit of grammar (multi-grade), and a few creative writing resources. As more titles are finalized, we will add these to our website’s Writing Section. (“Aaron’s Story” is an additional resource for upper-level cursive writing practice. “Ava’s Story” is in draft mode.)
Q: At what stage could we expect to begin with writing?
A: Kindergarten-age children can learn to print in large letters. They also love the hands-on activities and pre-writing art skills including scissors skills. They can dictate their own stories from little journal prompts and copy under “Mommy’s” printing. They can learn by modelled writing about basic grammar and basic sentence writing. It is fun to learn! By grade 1, they can begin to copy very short summary notes to make a science notebook, use a ruler to help them make a diagram, and help to sew a picture storybook they created with dental floss!
Q: At what grade, could a child who can read, be quite independent in doing writing assignments on various formats (e.g. lists, letters, stories, reports) with PSLC curriculum?
A: The first grade should have some guidance and modelled writing but during that year or shortly after the beginning of the second grade, children could be independently going to the writing board, pulling out the next assignment, doing it, and then showing the family the finished result. They do not have to wait for “mom” to give the assignment or teach it by this point. Our children loved being able to do this on their own! ♥
How long should I expect to spend with my K-3 child teaching WRITING using PSLC curriculum?
For a parent: Maybe 3 minutes to 15 or 30 minutes to a couple of hours or more, depending on how much a student needs you or how much you want to involve yourself. Printing and penmanship may initially take about 5 minutes but otherwise is an independent activity with brief checking. “Tell Me” journal topics need someone to print the child’s dictation but other primary-level writing assignments need very little instruction and eventually, is independent work. Older-level assignments might need again a short time of instruction (e.g. modelled writing) but otherwise is independent unless having a question or needing some more direction/feedback. I used to do creative writing a couple of times a week but for me with a large family (multi-levels), I now like to put all or almost all of the creative writing stuff for elementary levels on just one day a week – “Writing Wednesdays” so we have a full morning to focus on these skills and lots of time to explore ideas. (The other academic subjects are essentially eliminated for that morning.)
For a student: Younger children might take 15-30 minutes or more, depending on if you include illustrations, book-binding, the suggested hands-on activities, etc.. Older students will likely take longer because of observing, planning/research/thinking, taking time to do well, etc.. Writing is a subject area which does not need to be rushed through. It also should not always be at a desk! Take a clipboard and maybe a book to research outdoors or into a living room. Watch something on a screen and take notes. Outline something in-between turns of playing catch near a picnic table. Be creative and write!