Monday, August 25, 2008

Back in the Saddle!

Thank you all for your notes and prayers. Health is returning! A little cough is still lingering, but the girls and I are feeling worlds better. Now to catch up on all that was put on hold. That is our focus and joy this week.

I was beginning to wonder if I would be able to post about homeschool schedules sometime before Christmas break, but I trust that God's timing and purpose are perfect.

This weekend I was well enough to participate in the teacher training class for the Spell to Write and Read Program (intensive phonogram instruction for our little ones). I would love to encourage you, that if you haven't found an intensive phonogram program, this is wonderful! After Bible and Character, phonogram instruction has got to be the most important tool we can give our children. It is the foundation for everything else we desire to teach them. It affects their understanding of our language, the ability to see God's order in language and thereby be readied for a second language, as well as their ability to spell, write and read with understanding.

SWR is perfect for those just beginning to learn or for those in need of remediation. For 1/3 of students, reading will come easily- almost in spite of their teaching- for the other 2/3 SWR can be a real blessing.

I have been doing some research on my own regarding the process of reading instruction which dovetailed perfectly with my instruction this weekend.

Very exciting findings in an area that has been less than exciting for me in the past! Hope to share this with you soon. : )

Blessings to you!


  1. Interesting! Thank you for sharing.. I'll have to go check it out. Davina's been showing lots of interest in spelling and math, and though I was initially going to wait a little while (she just turned 4), I'm wondering if I shoul pursue things while she has such an interest? Any thoughts?

  2. Hi Christi!

    If she shows interest, I think 4 would be a wonderful time to begin!

    She is in what classical educators refer to as the "grammar stage" so this is a wonderful time to memorize facts!

    Our difficulty has been Mama's ignorance of the phonograms. The girls pick things up so much faster than I do. : )

    If you were interested in beginning the phonogram memorization I would suggest buying the SWR cards and CD. This will help you to be sure that you know them correctly and these tools will be helpful to you for years. They are non consumable.

    Davina will not have the fine motor skills to write on paper yet, but with the large motor skills she has you may enjoy using a salt box to practice letters, sign language or "air writing."

    Blessings to you!

  3. Since your back in the saddle, I say hop on and lets head to Chik~Fila! It's family night. Any idea what the theme is tonight?

    Love you,

  4. Welcome back! So glad that you all are feeling better:-)

    As for the phonics...I may check this out. I'm using TATRAS for my daughter, but this is my first time teaching phonics(my eldest learned in the one year of school she had outside of the home). I'm a touch intimidated and she is discouraged. Perhaps not a great combination.

    Thanks for sharing your encouragement and thoughts on this.

    Lots of love,

  5. Thanks so much for your welcome back ladies (cough, cough)!

    Very interesting Sommer! I hadn't heard of TATRAS before. It appears they do have instructors teach some of the phonograms Spell to Write and Read would teach, although they seem to include 36 sounds, wheras Spell to Write and Read (SWR) includes 70. I am not sure what has been omitted. Do you teach multi letter phonograms?

    TATRAS seems to teach words in the order of frequency, in other words they teach the most commonly used words first. That is also the SWR model.

    The TATRAS website stated that they do not teach spelling rules because it would be too confusing. They teach a few phonogram rules instead.

    Spell to Write and Read does teach spelling rules. I found a couple of videos on u-tube to demonstrate this method.

    The first one demonstrates a rules page:

    Spell to Write and Read - Consonant/Vowel page, Part 1

    The second one demonstrates working with large motor skills and teaching children the 1-1 relationship between phonograms and sounds (she will show the sounds on her fingers):

    You CAN Do It!

    In short TATRAS appears to be an abbreviated version of SWR so they do use phonograms and a some rules!

    Have you started using the program yet? I think either one would be intimidating. : )

    SWR offers a 2 day training class for their instructors which has been very helpful. I will try to share the script they taught us to use which might be helpful to you with this other program as well.

    The main thing is to teach our little ones the sounds and the 1-1 correspondence between the sound and the phonogram so they can break words down.

    Blessings to you!

  6. Hi Rebecca~

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about TATRAS and SWR!

    In my book I actually have 69 phonograms to teach, but they emphasise getting the first 30 down before letting them move much further forward. I haven't gotten to multiletter phonograms but will soon. We are reviewing what we learned a few months ago and then we will be moving ahead.

    I have started using it, but it seems very overwhelming to look at the instruction manual.

    Thanks for those links too. I'll take a peek at them. I think this will take perseverence for me and my daughter. But once we've got it I hope it will be easier with the next one:-)

    Lots of love,

  7. Wonderful Sommer!

    Then there are not any missing phonograms! You have the keys!

    Our trainer explained that getting off the ground with phonogram instruction is like getting a big jet off the ground. It takes some umph! And most of that "umph" is the learning curve we have to go through as teachers. BUT once we're in the air and that jet stream catches us, we're really going to fly!

    Stick to it sister! You won't be sorry. Slow and steady wins the race. : )

    Blessings to you!

  8. Rebecca,

    I am so glad that you and your lovely family are back on the mend. No doubt you'll be back to homeschooling in full swing in no time.



  9. So glad you're feeling better. I've been thinking about you and your family and wondering how you're doing. I've missed reading your posts.