Sunday, July 26, 2009

Beginning Steps To Reading


The reading curriculum we used this year is called Beginning Steps To Reading which is a Christian based phonics program published by Eastern Mennonite Publications (the do not have a website, you need to call for a catalog). It was recommended to me at a homeschool convention by someone who knew I had a daughter with Down Syndrome. They said the material seemed to move more slowly and had great results for children with special needs. So far I have found that to be true, but we still slowed it down even further. Instead of doing a lesson a day, we split the lessons up into two days. That one extra day seemed to help Gesserine get a better grasp of the concept. We would then spend Fridays doing some sort of review work as well as spelling and other related activities. This did mean that we spent a year covering one semester's worth of material, but my daughter actually grasped the concept and phonetics, so I think it was well worth it. I believe it is important that my daughter actually "get" the material we use, not just that she get "through it."

Beginning Steps to Reading starts out teaching short vowels sounds and adding some consonant blends. They quickly get you to where you can begin reading simple Bible stories using only the letters and sounds you have learned.



I really loved the way there was a bible story for every lesson with an emphasis on words that started with the sound you learned that day. I also love how adaptable the workbooks were. My daughter's fine motor skills are delayed and at the beginning of the school year she could not write very well. Even when she did write it was difficult and time consuming to get accuracy. To do lengthy worksheets requiring lots of writing would not be beneficial for us. However, these workbooks, while they have spaces and an emphasis on writing, also offer other options that allowed us to use them without having to worry about her writing skills.

Some pages had an option to circle the answer with a space to write the answer as well. We just skipped the writing and circled the answer.




Some pages had the answers at the top for which I just had her draw a line to the corresponding question.



For others that were less adaptable, I simply used stickers I made for her.



Another nice addition were the supplemental worksheets. They usually required her to do some cutting and gluing. This was just a fun way to reinforce the lesson while working on some motor skills as well.






Here is a video of my daughter working through one of the workbook pages. Notice how she talks herself through the problem. There are times you think she is going to get it wrong and then realize she is simply taking her time to think it through. Other questions are so easy she gets them right away. The last one is my favorite because she does get it wrong but corrects herself and tells you that she got it wrong only to find the right answer in the end.



And here we have her reading a story from the book. This was toward the end of the year when she was first learning about long vowels. After over half a year focusing on short vowel sounds, changing to using the long vowel is tough. She really has to concentrate on the long vowel, so much so that at one point she writes an imaginary "long vowel" sign over an "i" and pretends to mark out the "e" to represent that it is silent. Then she finally pronounces it correctly. While she still sometimes struggles with long vowel words, it is coming, and that is such a joy to see!

13 comments:

Julana said...

It is wonderful to see how well she is doing. I'm happy for her.

Evelyn said...

I learn so much from you. I'll be checking into the materials that you recommended. Keep up the good work, Gess! :)

Beverly said...

so wonderful! loved seeing her work it all out in the videos. You are doing such a great job! I am going to look into those books.

Amy said...

Love your blog and what you are accomplishing with Gess!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for blogging this. I just received their catalog. Did you just buy the three books you pictured or did you buy all the other workbooks before it?

Lori said...

Oh yeah, I used all of them (except the 482 practice sheets), I just didn't have them in the photo.

I started with:
Teacher's Manual A
Workbook A
Worksheets Book
Reader (but found it wasn't needed until book B)

As we got near the end of that I ordered the next section:

Teacher's Manual B
Workbook B
Word Practice Book

Then when that was about done we got the Workbook C Teacher's manual and workbook.

I just wasn't sure if it was going to work for us so I bought it in pieces, but I ended up using it all. The practice sheets are probably good, we just didn't get them since this took so much time already.

Anonymous said...

I have used these books with several children, and they work marvelously for any ability. I highly recommend them! Children really seem to "get it" And it is teacher friendly too... I have recommended this series to people everywhere I have lived. My only regret is that the series ends... It would be great if they would develop more for higher grades.

Robert said...

FYI We had one of our members list an auction on our website for this very curriculum. Used starting at $25...
http://www.edifyathome.com/usedhomeschoolcurriculum.php?auction_id=108912
... hope someone finds this to be helpful.
All of the best!
Robert at edifyathome

Linda said...

Thank you for a really good review, even though it was not what I was looking for.

Anonymous said...

Lori,
I love your blog it is very down to earth and practical.We recently finished K with R& S. I bought the 1st gr Phonics/Reading of R& S which he is doing fairly well in. We just started only on lesson 3.

I looked at your pic of the Reader that comes with the EMP and like the slower pace of it.I have a catalog of EMP.

My son knows the alphabet, sounds, but we need to start learning how to blend. Should we still start out with Beginning Steps to Reading level A?

Wish they had samples online. (sigh)

Thanks for your help.
Janet

Lori said...

I would definitely start with A because they teach blends that have charts and stuff that they will refer to and build off of through the rest of the curriculum. I tried really hard to find my materials so I could show you but apparently I can only find My Teacher's manual for B and C. But yeah, they work off each other so its best to start at the beginning! I think he is a at a good place for it too.

~Lori

Michelle said...

After your daughter completed the three levels, was there a continuation with this reading program?

Lori said...

Michelle,
We used Beginning Steps to Reading and then Reading 1. Last I knew they were coming out with a Reading 2 but Gess was already done and had moved on so I used Rod and Staff after that. It worked well since this was mastered first. You might call the company and see how far it goes up now though. It's been years since Gess went through it.

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