Joyce would often get questions on using her Scaredy Cat Reading System most effectively. Let’s listen in on one such conversation….
Question: I have a 7 yr. old son and we are still on "scared A" words. We play Abbey Alligator and drill the words. I made us a "salt box" today so he can write them in it. How can you tell if a child is not a "phonics learner" meaning I've heard of children who just don't learn to read with phonics but more with sight. Now, to me that is so foreign....I mean letters have sounds, sounds make words, the end. Still sometimes I will just drill him on the alphabet letters and he will draw a blank on H, Y, F and sometimes P and a couple of others. He just turned 7 in January and you would think since I have an almost 10 year old who is doing really well now, thanks to SCRS, that I could just chill out and be patient, and I can, BUT I just want to make sure I'm not missing anything. Thanks so much for any tips. Also, I visited the SCR booth at our homeschool conference this weekend and asked about readers. My SCRS book mentions those and I don't know what they are.
Answer: It is okay that he is “still on” scared A words. He is still young – though not by the world’s standard! Many children, most especially boys, are not ready to master reading until much later. Remember Woodrow Wilson, one of our US presidents, did not learn the alphabet until he was 9 and did not learn to read until he was 12. Your son is WAY ahead of him! See Learning in Spite of Labels for more such stories!
Start with ten words that do not use the letters that confuse him. Use them in many different ways – playing games, making up stories, defining the words, etc. Do not just “drill.” Lay nine cards in a tic-tac-toe arrangement. Use nickels for one player and pennies for the other. In order to put your marker down, you must read the word. Or lay six cards in an array. Mom calls out a word for him to find. If he gets it right, he keeps it and mom replaces it. Reward him for every 5 words he wins. The salt box is great, too. The more fun and variety you use, the more interested he’ll be in continuing! More fun for you, too!
When he is doing pretty well with those words, add more (but still stay away from the confusing letters for a while). Meanwhile, also work on those letters – finding pictures that begin with them, looking for them on road signs and such. When he is easily reading words that do not have those letters, choose one or two of the letters to add into his words. Gradually add more until he is reading all of the “scared A” words.
Do not panic. Find ways to have some fun, keep working at it and have some success every day.
As to the readers, Level Two (that you are on) and the Level Three (the next one) both have readers included in the kit. In addition, each of those two levels has a reader containing 8-page stories with one sentence per page, for the most part. There are no pictures. Your son becomes the illustrator. He reads the story and then goes back to illustrate it. These books are called Read and Draw and do not repeat any of the stories from the reader that comes in the kit. There are available separately on the website.
You also might benefit from the Budding Authors Step into Writing. This has stories that go along with what he is doing now. The stories start out with just one sentence and build to about six. There are three ways to use the stories: copy, write from dictation, tell mom who writes the story; further instructions are included in the book, which is also available from the website.
Enjoy this time. Read aloud to him many different kinds of books from picture books to chapter books to the Bible. Cuddle and enjoy being together. That is a part of learning to read, also!
A Word from Wendy:
My son didn’t learn to read till he was 10! And he was my oldest… to put it into perspective, his next youngest sibling, a girl, had been reading for 6 years before he learned! And the next youngest, another boy, was about 2 years into reading pretty well. We never compared or allowed teasing. I didn’t know about SCRS when my oldest was struggling so much, but I am totally convinced it would have made a world of difference to him.
Joyce gave wise counsel! Keep it fun, and don’t make your children feel broken or damaged because they aren’t learning as quickly as the world says they should. My son is 31 now, and can read absolutely anything he wants with great ease!