I feel a bit sheepish when I admit that my son learned how to read by watching videos. There’s something that seems so wrong about it. On the other hand, that’s exactly what happened. I had tried helping him on my own. We tried a number of books/curriculum options. In the end all that happened was that both my son and I were frustrated. Even the Granddaddy of all phonics programs, “AlphaPhonics,” couldn’t help us.
The chief aim of all of our homeschooling pursuits in these early years is the establishment of a foundation. What I most want my son to learn has nothing to do with a list of facts or “right” answers. I’d rather that he learned how to learn – find the answers on his own. I want him to be a life-long learner – someone who doesn’t stop just because the “official” years of learning has passed. In my mind that puts the primary importance on reading, writing, and math. After all, you can’t find the answers to your questions if you can’t read.
With that in mind I put aside my squeamish feelings about the video and checked out the first Leapfrog video – “The Letter Factory.” Four viewings of the video and then letter sounds? Check. Next came the “Talking Word Factory.” Four more viewings and then CVC words and a few simple digraphs plus the blending necessary to make a recognizable word? Check. Right now he’s watching “Learn to Read at the Storybook Factory” which I thought was the next video in the progression. It’s not – I should have gone with “Word Caper,” but once the kids are aware that the videos are in the house there’s really no stopping them from asking (again and again) to watch it. “Word Caper” is on its way and I’m sure there’s something in the video he’s watching now that will end up helpful for him.
I still wish that there had been some non-media based answer for us. I still hate that the videos did it. I also still need to find a way to help him become more proficient at blending so that he doesn’t have to sound out just about every word on the page. Practice and a bit of encouragement. Well, that and a trip back to the drawing board. I’d really like to find something outside of the videos that works well for him if only so that he gains more of the confidence that he’s lacking. Still, not bad for seven weeks!