Ready, Set, Read
In a mere 100 lessons, students go from reading sentences like "The cat is fat" to "It is important to be efficient with your time when attending college and holding a job simultaneously". This is accomplished by administering a small "dose" of phonics skills in each lesson along with a serving of sight words (anywhere from 4-8).
Author Vera Clark firmly believes that the ability to read early will give a child a large advantage throughout life. So she encourages you to start your child to read as early as possible - even as an infant unable to speak or respond. She provides a set of flash cards for you to copy onto heavy cardstock and laminate, along with the process to use, down to what to say as you practice with your baby. Cards have both upper- and lower-case letters on one side and an animal keyed to the letter (alligator for a, bear for b, etc) on back. You will teach both letter recognition and sound. Repetition is key. You practice this routine as often as possible (or as long as the child is attentive). When the child is old enough, have him either select a card from the floor by name/sound or respond orally. Once mastery is achieved at this step, assuming your child is speaking, you will progress to the next step: blending sounds into words. Again, you will work on this phase until your child is blending well. Then you are ready to begin the "real" lessons in the book. Using this method, Vera taught her own three children to read at a first grade level by the age of 3. Note: Even if you didn't start this program in infancy, the methods here will work just as well for a beginning reader of any age. With a remedial student who already knew the "basics" of reading, you would just start right into the lessons.
So, if your child is already blending short vowel words, what's in the lessons? Well, for one thing your "blender" will now be reading full sentences. Each lesson begins by introducing a small "bite" of phonics, introduces 4-8 new "sight" words to memorize, and contains from 14-19 sentences to read. For example, lesson 1 focuses on the word family _an, teaches sight words I, the, to, and is, then uses only these constructs in 14 sentences (Nan ran to Dan. Is the pan tan? I can fan Jan.). Each of the lessons 1-10 begins with specific instructions for teaching the lesson. Some groundwork is laid in these to familiarize a child with the basics of punctuation, types of sentences, rhyming, possessives, and plurals as these arise. Lessons 11 and up use an identical teaching plan consisting of:
Any clarification or explanation specific to each lesson is included in a few sentences right on the lesson page.
The phonics skills taught in each lesson include: word families, consonant endings, double consonants, beginning and ending consonant blends, contractions, digraphs, suffixes, silent letters, r-controlled vowels, long vowel sounds, soft consonant sounds, and some variant sounds. A lesson index is available on our website so you can see the entire scope and sequence. At the back of the book, Vera has thoughtfully included some optional activities to use for Vocabulary Building, Reading Comprehension, Writing Development, and Spelling.
Vera's philosophy throughout this program can best be summarized by the phrases, "the early bird catches the worm", "practice makes perfect" and "be your child's biggest cheerleader". Early exposure, continual motivation and practice make this program work. The lessons use a somewhat different approach in that they don't teach phonics rules per se, nor do they teach phonograms (specific sounds letter combinations can make). Rather, a word construct is introduced and it becomes part of the child's knowledge base through a process of repetition and practice. This is more efficient than sight reading since most words are constructed from common clumps of letters. Sight words are not neglected either; the student is fed a continual diet of new words, immediately reinforced in the lesson sentences. Some of these will be covered in later lessons as the corresponding phonics skills are addressed. And who can argue with success? When your child is reading the lesson 100 sentences, it's time to impress the grandparents!
On the DVD lessons, author Vera Clark teaches the names and sounds of all of the letters, how to blend them into words, and teaches each of the 100 lessons (10-15 minutes per lesson). Each DVD contains ten lessons; the first two are available separately, or you can purchase the Series 1-10 DVD Set which contains all 100 lessons. Also available are the Illustrated Lesson Books. Each 16-page book contains one lesson with instruction and supplies full-color illustrations for the sentences in the lesson. Lesson Books 1-5 are available now; more are in the works.