April 2012

Weather Awareness Week

Severe Weather Awareness Week caught me a little off guard this year. I didn’t know that it was tornado safety day until I heard the sirens in the middle of nap time. Typically on this day each year I practice a tornado drill with my children and discuss other severe weather situations in detail with each child at his level. This year, three of my four children were sound asleep, so I decided to postpone our drill.


In our area, the civil defense sirens are tested monthly. Because of this, I discuss tornadoes with my children every time we hear the sirens being tested but only practice the drill on this day each year. I make sure to explain each time the difference between the test and a real warning. Since they don’t know the difference, they must always assume it is a real warning unless I tell them otherwise.

One Benefit of Illness

My family has been going through some sicknesses lately. As my oldest son (six years old)  lay on the couch staring out the window because he was too sick to do schoolwork, I realized that he was still learning a lot. Because he was doing this for an extended period of time, he noticed a lot of things about nature that he wouldn’t have otherwise taken the time to notice and therefore learn. One of our bird feeders happens to hang outside of the window that my sick son was staring out of. He was excited to see so many birds that he doesn’t normally see because he just doesn’t spend the time observing. He starting recording details about their feather patterns and behavior in his nature journal.  

For science this year, we are using Apologia’s “Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the 5th Day” by Jeannie K Fulbright. It covers a lot about birds, so these moments that my son was observing the birds on the bird feeder, meshed so well with what we have been covering in science lately! How perfect is that?

While my oldest son was sick, he started writing in his journal (or dictating for me to write when he was really sick) several times a day! Previously he hadn’t been writing in it very often at all. He was also asking for me to bring him our bird field guide and encyclopedias so he could look things up that he wanted to know more about. Of course no one wants to be sick, or see their child sick, but I was glad that even in the midst of this yuck, there are still some positives. This was yet another reminder that even when I’m not doing school, my kids are still learning.

What have you noticed your kids learning when they are sick? 

How I taught my son to read at Four (and a little writing and spelling)

I don’t know how to teach your child to read. Every child and parent is different. You as the parent know best how to teach your individual child how to read. I will tell you how I taught my son to read at four (I’ve used this same method with my oldest two sons) and hopefully that will give you some ideas how to start teaching your child to read (though not necessarily at four). Don’t worry about doing it the wrong way, there are many different methods of teaching your child to read, some may work better for one person or another, but as far as I know, they all do work. I learned how to read phonetically, whereas my husband learned how to read whole words. You can’t get much more opposite approaches, yet as adults we both know how to read well.

Initially my husband and I wanted to incorporate the best of both worlds, and teach our oldest son to read primarily phonetically but also learn the DOLCH sight words so that we would be able to read more rapidly-we thought. However, he really didn’t get the sight word approach, it just kept frustrating him. I ended up dropping that approach altogether. He is only 6 yet he is able to read most of the words on the DOLCH word list without a problem after learning them phonetically.

My second son’s brain works differently than my oldest son’s. My second son learned many sight words on his own after I read them to him just once or twice in a book. Sight words come very naturally to him. I am still teaching him phonics in the same basic steps that I taught my first son, just tailoring it to fit his style a little. This approach seems to work just as well for him as it did for my eldest son, even though they seem to learn a little differently.

Read on for the basic steps I used to teach my child to read and some ideas on how I did each step.