Thursday, February 11, 2010

YOU ASKED {swr, cursive first, reading comprehension and early readers}

And we're responding!

Over the past two weeks we have received countless e-mails, letters and post cards from you just begging to see more photos of our children! It seems you just can't get enough of their silliness. And who can blame you?

Fortunately there are plenty of photos around here, so we are happy to...uh... er...

Well... actually, that didn't happen. No one really wrote in begging for more photos, but since this is our blog I figure we'll just keep posting them anyway. : )

You did have a few homeschool questions for us. So, I did my best to summarize some of those below.

Keep writing. We love to hear from you!

Have a blessed day,

Spell to Write and Read (SWR)- We've received a few questions regarding our use of this program, so we'll start with these (1-4).

1. Do you like the program?

Yes, we do! We initially saw amazing results when we moved toward intensive phonics and away from standard spelling programs. Now it is just our standard. SWR is not the only intensive phonics option out there, but it is the one we use.

Pros.- The money you invest in the program (phonogram cards, CD, charts, and books) is spent once and you use them year after year and child after child. It's very inexpensive when you consider that.

Cons.- The book is a little like digging for gold. There is a lot of valuable information in there, but it is sometimes hard to get to. At times I have considered writing a companion binder for the program for that very reason.

2. How long do you spend on an SWR lesson?
It depends. Some days I will tell everyone to gather 'round and I'll teach a spelling rule or work on phonics. For example, when I taught the E's Dropping Rule recently, I didn't teach it one on one. I called everyone over, taped my chart on the wall, explained the rule and worked out some examples. It took about 30 minutes (and that was long) because I had the kids do an activity with it. I thought the rule was worded in a confusing way, so rather than have them memorize something they wouldn't understand, I re-wrote it and we worked with that (that is the "digging for gold part" I mentioned above). : )

When we do a one-on-one lesson (and many moms just group 2 or more students together in a lesson, see this video) it takes about 10-15 minutes per student.

I reduce the word count to 10 because that works for us when I am giving multiple lessons. I don't give an individual lesson everyday.


3. Do you use SWR to teach reading?
Not really. We use Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.

4. Do you teach cursive first?
We seem to teach both cursive and manuscript. But we do teach cursive much earlier than is standard (in K now) and it seems to work really well. We use A Reason for Handwriting for additional copywork practice for the middle girls.

5. How do you measure a student's reading comprehension?SWR recommends using the Mc Call Crabbs standard test set- A through E. These can be helpful, but I don't spend much time on this. Maybe once or twice a year when the children are older and reading fluently.

6. Do you have any readers you would recommend?
I've recommended Rod and Staff and Pathway Readers in the past, but I would be remiss to leave out the sweet Christian Light Education books- I Wonder, Happy Hearts, Helping Hands and so on. They are very dear. We usually stop with all of these readers when the emphasis becomes strong in the schooling and best friendships outside the home as we are not seeking to market those ideas to our family.

And a fun treat!
In responding to an e-mail question today I was reminded of a sweet website I would love to have you peek at: Mrs. Ross First Grade. She has come up with some neat, hands-on literacy center ideas that you may glean from. What I like? She seems to have a set of activities per week (all pre-thought out). This could become the equivalent to Monday is Meatloaf, Tuesday is Tacos... only with centers!


  1. Love that photo! Thanks for all the helpful info. I'm mentally filing it away until the girls are ready to begin formal schooling. Nice to 'see' you here, friend.


  2. You asked...I sure DID! ;)

    I just got off the phone with a friend who was asking about SWR, because she saw it on your website. So I just sent her the link! Perfect timing.
    Have a great weekend.
    Kelly K

  3. Me me ! I want more pictures. Please! It's so much fun to see what you girls are up to. :)


  4. Thanks Lisa. Certainly different resources work for different children, but SWR has taught us so much. The first year we switched from a standard spelling curriculum to SWR Faith jumped 4 grade levels! She's a great speller now.

    Funny Kelly, that was good timing! If your friend has specific questions I'd be happy to share our experience with her. A training course is recommended prior to beginning this course. SWR is based on Spalding's work (Writing Road to Reading).

    Ok Elizabeth! SINCE you asked I'll keep posting them. : )


  5. Thank You for answering my questions! .... And yes, more pictures of the girls! They are so adorable and precious!

  6. Oh good Carmen- that's right you did ask a couple of these. Let me know if I answered you.

    You're so funny. Alright... I'll post more. ; )