Got the Home Schooling Blues?

by Eileen Pedersen, Trail, BC

Part Two: Assisting children in Grades 1 to 4 with reading fluency, reading comprehension, and decoding words so that they experience success and confidence.

These directions are kind of dry so you will need to generate enthusiasm and playfulness to engage the learner. I often began a learning activity with a game. “Have you ever played ‘Touch That Word’? Get your pointer finger ready. Look at every single word in the first two lines until you find ‘huckleberries’. Touch it and say YUM YUM! No! Say YUM YUM louder! That’s better. Look through the next two lines and find ‘raspberries’. Touch raspberries and lick your lips.” Be silly; have fun; keep firm focus on the lesson.

Here’s what you will need for this lesson: water, pencil, paper, reading passage, and, a tracking marker. How to make a tracking marker: Cut a straight 4” by 1” piece of light. Then, cut a narrow and straight notch out of the top right hand side: 1” long by 1/4” deep, to use under the words as they are read. The notched-out part exposes the next word to read and hides the previous words. This helps the eyes to track ahead and not wander. Try it yourself with this paragraph. The depth may need to be a little more than 1/4 “.

Prepare the brain for learning (see the four steps from the April 16th edition of the Huckleberry Press), We will add two more movements which target four aspects of reading. Yes, it’s totally worth the time and effort because you are stimulating areas of the brain that accelerate learning:
Calf Pump: Stand close to a wall, feet a bit apart. Lean forward so your hands touch the wall for support. Extend right leg back (left knee will bend). Keep both feet flat. Straighten the left leg until the right foot is on the tips of your toes. 3 times on each side. Inhale in standing position; exhale while bending.
Brain Balance: Sit with feet flat. Head is level; chin tucked in a little. Right hand over navel. Hold 2 or 3 fingers of the left hand just above the indentation where the skull sits over the neck. Relax and hold this position for 30 seconds while breathing slowly and deeply. Switch hands and do the other side. Can also be done standing or lying down.
When finished, sip water.

The Lesson: Choose a reading passage:
Student creates his or her own by dictating a story about anything to you. You print the child’s words with the correct punctuation. Don’t ask them to spell anything. OR, find a passage from a school lesson, maybe 4 to 8 sentences–one that has been difficult to read.
Sit on the student’s right side.

  1. If there’s a picture, discuss what’s happening in it.
  2. You will read the passage first: Use the tracker. Read the words close to his/her right ear while tracking and having the student look at each word as you say it. Read slowly to allow time for tracking, and read smoothly and with expression to create fluency and meaning.
  3. Discuss the passage.
  4. Take turns treasure hunting words
  5. Isolate a difficult word; give the child a quick glimpse then hide it. Ask what s/he thought the word was. Need a longer glimpse? Ok.
  6. Same word. Quick glimpse. Reproduce on paper. How many letters are correct? Celebrate. Glimpse again to find more correct letters. Reproduce. OR, if difficult, look INSIDE the word for smaller words, or for which 2 letters come after “a”. Make up games like this.
  7. Student uses a tracker and reads the passage a few times until fairly fluent.
  8. Choose another passage and repeat.

ALWAYS enthusiastically acknowledging the effort your child made. You can use words like “you just about got every single letter correct” or “wow, you read that whole sentence so fluently…” or “I see the progress you’re making” or “high five”. Celebrate with a snack? a game of frisbee? a bike ride?

Zoom meeting opportunity
I would like to demonstrate this process via a Zoom meeting. These steps will make more sense. Contact me through the Huckleberry Press and we’ll set up a meeting.

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