A Reader for the Child Who Has Completed the Reading Made Easy Program

Dear Friend,

What you do after Reading Made Easy (RME) depends on what type of curriculum materials are of interest to you. Some want a traditional approach, so I recommend Learning Language Arts Through Literature (LLAL) Red book. While there will be some repetition of material learned in RME, this may be the best level to go to after RME. (It is the 2nd grade level.) Some children who take off with reading will fit best into the LLAL Yellow book (3rd grade level.) Others feel LLAL offers too much “busy work.” You can view the LLAL program at this website: http://www.commonsensepress.com/covers.htm

The most important thing to do is to have your child read, read, read aloud to you each day. This will enable you to help him with any words he finds difficult. Generally, when a child reads silently he skips over the words he does not know. As your child reads aloud, he will increase both his reading vocabulary and his level of fluency. Allow him to read books at an “easy” level for a long time. The fluency stage of reading should not be rushed. It is also important to encourage your child to dictate stories to you which he can illustrate. These become his “readers.” You can create small paper booklets for this purpose. Simply write one or two sentences on each page, and then allow the child to add illustrations. If he does not like to draw, simply leave less room per page for illustrations. He can use stickers, rubber stamps, magazine pictures, or stencils to create illustrations if desired. A child who enjoys drawing may draw his pictures first, and then dictate a story based on the pictures.

Your child’s reading abilities will sky rocket as he creates his own readers. A child takes pride in his own creative efforts. If he has created the story he will certainly comprehend it; therefore, he will not struggle with trying to grasp the meaning behind the story when he is asked to read it. Because the words he uses are part of his spoken vocabulary, he will glide over words that he would usually find difficult to read. This activity also helps to develop a child’s composition skills. Allow your child to dictate stories and other compositions to you for several years. A child will generally write the words he can easily spell. Therefore, his early written compositions may include only the simplest words. A child who labors over the writing process will generally produce short compositions. If allowed to dictate stories and compositions, he will be more verbal. Eventually, you may allow him to copy what you have written from his verbal dictation – or at least copy a portion of it. (For the child who struggles with handwriting, I suggest teaching him to type at an early age.) I use a very gradual process to wean the child from my assistance. Eventually he will compose and write on his own.

I give suggestions in the Appendix of RME of things you can do after completing the program to create reading lessons for your child. I suggest some easy readers for the child to read aloud as well as some books for you to read to the child. The books that you read to the child can be used to create reading lessons for your child. For example, read a chapter from a book such as Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and then make up simple sentences based on that chapter for your child to read. Instead of trying to retell the entire chapter, focus on parts he finds most interesting. Use words and vocabulary with which he is familiar, occasionally including a few words he doesn’t know how to read. Use this opportunity to teach him new words.

I have made these same types of lessons in RME. The last 12 lessons in RME include a 12-chapter story entitled “Gideon’s Gift.” One chapter is included in each lesson. You read this chapter aloud to the child. Then the child reads an adaptation of the chapter to you. This adaptation includes words with which the child is familiar, as well as, print clues he has learned in RME. When you have finished RME and you devise simple sentences for your child based on a book you read aloud to him, you can write without the print clues. By this time he should not need them. (By print clues I mean gray or bold black letters and so on.) You may make 5 to 10 sentences for him to read and increase this number as he improves.

You may think it is too time consuming to create these reading lessons for your child; however, it is surely worth the effort as your child will find these lessons more interesting than a workbook. This is especially true if you read aloud captivating stories. You may also allow him to retell the chapter or part of a chapter from a book you read aloud to him. You can write down this retelling, and then have him read it. Children love to read what they have composed.

If you are using the Five in a Row curriculum, you can use the books you read to your child to create reading lessons for him. For example, if you are reading The Story about Ping, you may make some sentences like these: Ping is a duck. Ping likes to swim. Ping can swim fast. Ping can swim in the river. Ping likes to dive in the water. Ping likes to eat fish. Ping likes to eat rice cakes. You can make more complex sentences as you go along like: Ping likes to dive and swim in the river. This is an excellent way to integrate your reading lessons into your Five in a Row study. Once your child has finished RME, he may even be able to “help” you read a Five in a Row book, especially after you have read it aloud to him a couple of times. He may “tag” read with you as well. That is, you read aloud portion of the book, and then he reads aloud portion of the book.

A good composition/grammar handbook is a terrific resource. I like the books published by Write Source. They make books for each grade level. You will find much repetition from one grade level to the next, so you may not need to purchase a handbook for each grade level. I suggest you choose a handbook that is one or two grade levels above your child’s grade level and let him use it for a few years. Check out their website at www.TheWriteSource.com. I suggest using their handbooks and doing the exercises they recommend. (You will not want to do all the exercises in one year, but spread them out over several years.) I don’t particularly like the workbooks or teacher’s guides they publish to go with the handbooks, but some may want to use these as well.

Many Reading Made Easy users enjoy using the Explode the Code series of workbooks to reinforce phonetic concepts. You can view sample pages at this link: http://www.epsbooks.com

I hope this helps! As you can see I have offered several suggestions. Use those ideas that work best for your family. Don’t be afraid to “bend” any curricular materials to fit your child’s needs. Ruth Beechick says it something like this, “Bend the book, not the child.”

Valerie Bendt