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Home > Support > Curricula > Preparing a nonreader for 2nd Grade...

My oldest went to Catholic school for Kindergarten and is enrolled in [another curriculum provider] for 1st Grade this year. She is not reading yet...and there is not really much "reading" in the lesson plans. We are doing their phonics and spelling (which is extremely hard for someone who can't read) and I am really wishing we were using CHC instead of [current provider]. Looking forward to 2nd grade with CHC, I want to prepare her and add "reading" to our current curriculum. I'd like to start teaching her from Little Stories for Little Folks: Catholic Phonics Readers and Catholic Heritage Handwriting, K and 1. I am not clear as to whether the My Catholic Spellers (My Very First and Level A) are additional lesson-by-lesson reinforcement that we should use as well. Could you give me some guidance/advice about the specific materials I should use and how much time I should expect to spend each day on this with her? Thank you.



Dear Mom;

You are wise to have picked up on the difficulty of doing spelling before reading skills are in place!  That can be extremely discouraging for a child.

You are also smart to think of ways to help her catch up before 2nd grade, which she very likely can do.

You have a couple of options.  The first is that you could continue as is with your current curriculum provider, but supplement with CHC's phonics program.  The downside is that the extra work might further crush little spirits that are already struggling.

The second option, if your daughter is doing well in math but not reading and spelling, is to drop those subjects that require reading and substitute CHC's phonics and spelling programs instead, so she will not be overwhelmed by the additional material.

A good approach would be to begin with the Parents' Guide from Little Stories for Little Folks.  Even though your daughter may already be familiar with the lessons in the early steps, please don't skip any pages or steps.  Go through each step, so there will be no gaps in her reading preparation.  [You will likely find that she will whiz through these steps in very short order.  Doing these steps will take little time, give her a good foundation for reading, and also build her confidence as the lessons should be easy for her.]

If she isn't yet reading, my guess is that she could use practice with blending sounds, so pay special attention to the pre-reading blends and word family cards.  In addition, as she discovers words in this blending step, you might do the following exercise to add variety to her practice:

Using the 'Name Game' in the first LSLF story only, print by hand a list of words from that particular word family, involving your daughter in the process. 

First, print across the top of the page the letters at, an, and ad as column headings.  Sound these out with your daughter.  Next, print the letter b, and have your daughter make the sound of b.  Then add at, to create the word bat in the column headed by the at sound.  Have her sound the word out, covering the at part of the word at first, then uncovering it as she sounds out the word.  Praise abundantly.  Continue on with all the at words, then do the same with the an and ad columns.  Keep sessions short--about fifteen minutes.  If you haven't finished the exercise at that point, just pick up the next day where you left off.

The next session, do exactly the same thing on a new sheet of paper.  You may even invite her to draw a picture beside some of the words.  [cat, hat, rat]

At the third session, if she has been successful at sounding out some of the words and is gaining confidence, write the words fat cat next to each other.  Have her sound these words out, and then humorously discuss what a fat cat might look like.  Have her draw a fat cat next to the two words, and then return to the rest of the list.  Praise abundantly.  Continue in this manner until she can sound out these words, and has gained the confidence that she can blend sounds into words.

When she can successfully blend individual letter sounds into words, and is sounding out these simple words, she is ready to begin the little stories.

A day or two before beginning the actual stories, please read Step Three: Ready to Read in the Parents' Guide and look over the first story, so you will have an idea of what to expect.  Please also read the directions that go with the first story.

When you are ready to begin the sessions with your daughter, before reading the story, do the 'Name Game' found on the same page as the story.  This exercise helps teach word families, so that the student recognizes components of words before they begin the story.  These words will also be familiar as she has practiced them in the pre-reading blends.

Then read the story, followed by the worksheet [on the next page in the tablet] that follows the story.

Later in the day, introduce your daughter to the phonics reinforcing exercises in the Catholic Heritage Handwriting, Level K book.  This book is keyed exactly to the phonics she is learning in LSLF, providing additional phonics/reading practice.

Also, be sure to do the LSLF Silly Willy Sentences [cards are found on cardstock at the end of the tablet], starting right after Level 1, Book 6, and again after Level 1, Book 15; Level 2, Book 5; and Level 2, Book 10.  [Directions for this game are found under Step Four: Practice for Fluency in the Parents' Guide.]

Limit lessons to about fifteen minutes at a sitting.

Now, on to spelling!  My Very First Catholic Speller also is keyed to Little Stories for Little Folks phonics.  However, spelling ability generally lags significantly behind reading ability.  Therefore, you might experiment with introducing the first spelling lesson after your daughter completes Level 1 in LSLF.  Still, because of the usual lag, don't be surprised if she has some difficulty.  If that is the case, you might wish to hold off on the spelling for another month or so, and try again.  It is vital that she experiences success at this stage, rather than further discouragement.  Once your daughter begins the spelling lessons, if she is doing well, you may wish to assign her two lessons a week to help her catch up.

You are on the right track!

May God bless and guide your homeschooling days,

Nancy Nicholson

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