Any of you who know me, know that my youngest son has Down syndrome. I have been homeschooling him this year in hopes of preparing him to enter school next year.
I have taught all of my children to read. I homeschool them for kindergarten so that I can make sure they learn to read. I believe that reading is the most important academic skill they can have because if they can read, then the whole world is open to them.
For most of my kids, I have used the Spalding method, which is a phonics-based program. I also used Hooked on Phonics for some of my kids. I believe phonics-based approaches give kids the tools to decipher words and think it is the best way to teach kids to read.
Then I started teaching my youngest son. Everything I knew, or thought I knew, went out the window. I had to start from scratch and figure out how to best teach him to read. I read a lot of articles and books that said I needed to use sight words with him. So I made up flashcards with familiar words. We did that for a while, but it seemed like he needed more.
So I went back to teaching him the sounds of each letter. We do sound cards each day and he has been sounding out words now when we read. He has also learned many sight words. He still struggles with how to say the words, but he knows them.
One day, I suddenly had the idea to take the Hooked on Phonics books that I've used and make a flashcard for each word in the book beginning with book #1. I say the word and have him pick out the flashcard. I also say a sentence from the book and then have him find the corresponding words on the flashcards and lay them out into a sentence. It's working really well. He is not only recognizing the sight words, but he's also sounding out words using his knowledge of the sounds of the letters, which means he's improving his verbal skills.
The other day, we read Brown Bear, Brown Bear. I was astonished, and excited, when he started reading the book. I read the first part and he read the second part on each page. And he actually read it verbally. Yay!!!
So I know that he's beginning to read and, even better, he is saying words and using his verbal skills. It's been a long time coming, but I am so thankful to see this progress.