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Using Reading Eggs to Supplement Reading Practice

Disclaimer: I received these products for free in exchange for my review. I was not obligated to write a positive review. All opinions are mine.

We’re relaxed homeschoolers. We don’t follow a daily schedule or have checklists that need to be done every day. Instead, we read aloud, explore together, and chase our interests.

In things like reading and math, so much of what we do is based on context, and while that’s good, sometimes we need extra practice. As a former English teacher, I’m rather picky about what materials we use. This year, Reading Eggs came out with some great workbooks which were just what I was looking for, especially for my twins, who are almost five and starting kindergarten this year.

Why We Chose Reading Eggs

As I started thinking about my girls’ kindergarten year this year, I knew I wanted them to feel like they were discovering language and reading themselves, not overwhelming them with repetitive worksheets. We’ve been talking about sounds and words since they could talk, and they’re figuring it out, slowly but surely.

Since I have twins, and they both have different strengths, I was looking for something that could individualize practice without making them feel singled out. The app and online portion of Reading Eggs does just that. It’s fun, moves at their speed, has different options for activities, and doesn’t feel like repetitive worksheets.

The pages in the books are similar. I appreciate how clearly Reading Eggs has broken down reading into individual skills, so it’s easy to find which one to practice.

How We Use Reading Eggs Workbooks

My girls have most of their sounds and some sight words figured out already, so we don’t need to work through the books sequentially. Instead, as I notice that one of them is working on a particular skill but needs extra practice, we turn to the book. It’s well-organized, easily accessible, and I don’t have to scroll through pages of PDFs looking for the content I want. Who has time for that?!? (I don’t)

Beginning phonics
Kindergarten phonics practice

Using Reading Eggs and Mathseeds Online

We’re a family that limits our technology time – to less than 1/2 hour per day. It’s a personal choice, not a judgment, but when we do let our kids get on the computer or tablet, we want to know that what they’re doing is safe and meaningful.

I was impressed with the Parent Portal for Reading Eggs and Mathseeds for a few reasons.

  • It let me easily have an overview of all 3 of my children, what they’ve been doing and what progress they had made.
  • When my son (7) intentionally got questions wrong on a placement test, I was able to manually go in and override his placement. This is amazing. Or if my daughter has passed a level but a couple weeks later seems to be struggling again, I can manually take her back to that place and let her redo it.
  • While they earn points, it’s not overly “gamified”. Last year, my son tried another online math program, and he basically skipped the content to play the games. This one, the content is meaningful enough and presented in a way that he wants to try it. I was particularly impressed with how thorough their presentation of symmetry was. Kids have to get 7/10 correct to move on, but they push towards 100% mastery, which I think is great.

Overall, I know there are lots of great resources out there. It’s hard to know which one is best for your family. Reading Eggs is a solid program with both online and paper materials which correlate well together and are easy for a parent to navigate…. and the skills the kids are practicing are logical, thoughtful, and not tedious.

As a special bonus, Reading Eggs and Math Seeds are offering a free trial (4 weeks!) on their online learning platform, which can be accessed both on the computer and via the app store, interchangeably.

Discount offer: click here for a four week FREE TRIAL, which offers access to everything in the Reading Eggs Suite

  • Reading Eggs Junior: 2 – 4 years
  • Reading Eggs: 4 – 7 years
  • Reading Eggspress: 7 – 13 years
  • Mathseeds: 3 – 9 years

If you’re interested in the workbooks, use Promo Code WK105KZU7TE for 10% off both the Reading Eggs and Mathseeds Essential Skills Workbooks.

 

Get Out of Those Desks! Learning Can Happen Anywhere!

As a classroom teacher for 10 years, let me let you in on a little secret: classrooms are organized for the benefit of the teacher, not the students. When I taught a group of 35 10th graders, I needed to be able to move quickly through the space, have every student in my line of sight, and distribute papers and materials in a quick and organized fashion.

Because teaching high school English in 50 minute blocks required efficiency and organization, we sat in rows. I even created seating charts with the students’ faces on them to help substitutes know the kids weren’t playing tricks on them.

Homeschool, although still called school, should NOT seek to emulate a classroom designed for challenges that home environments simply do not share.

There is a Better Way

Schools have been recognizing that kids need to move, to use different muscle groups and to help them focus. They’ve been experimenting and innovating with flexible seating options, and while this is a great start, they still have the responsibility of keeping those kids confined to that room for the designated period of time.

Research has shown that students taking tests do better when they fidget, and even more recently, that the ADHD brain tells the body to move because it learns better when moving.

Desks or Tables only when Beneficial

Now, there are times that sitting at a desk or table can be helpful. Formal writing assignments, messy projects, certain art materials or games work better on a raised surface. Any kind of work with a toddler around …. needs to be out of said toddler’s reach.

Desks are convenient because they provide a clearly defined space, but they are not necessary. And we choose not to use them because we want our learning to be as natural as everything else we do, rather than compartmentalized into a specific space that separates it from the rest of life.

We learn in the car. In bed.

On a swing car in the gap between the kitchen and living room.

On the kitchen floor.

At the science center, the nature center, and wherever else our adventures may lead.

On the back deck, even with jackets on.

Our favorite spot is probably this couch.

We learn wherever we are, because learning is a natural, organic outgrowth of waking up in the morning, and we choose to celebrate that beautiful, often messy, truth.

A Lifestyle of Discovery: 3rd Grade Unschooling “Curriculum”

First, a definition:

Unschooling is, for our purposes, an educational philosophy of providing rich, engaging resources and support but allowing the child to set the pace and have significant control over what he wants to learn and how he chooses to pursue this learning.

All analogies fall apart eventually, but it’s like providing a rich buffet including some “make your own” stations instead of cafeteria-style menus with pre-prescribed options and portion sizes.

If you want to read more, Fearless Homeschool has a great write-up here.

THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS. ANY LINKS TO RESOURCES ON THE AMAZON WEBSITE ARE PART OF THE AFFILIATE PROGRAM. WE ARE A PARTICIPANT IN THE AMAZON SERVICES LLC ASSOCIATES PROGRAM, AN AFFILIATE ADVERTISING PROGRAM DESIGNED TO PROVIDE A MEANS FOR US TO EARN FEES BY LINKING TO AMAZON.COM AND AFFILIATED SITES.

This year, I will have a 3rd grader and two preschool/kindergarteners in the house.

We live in New York State, which requires that we submit a curriculum plan (IHIP) before the start of the year.

The problem is: boxed, do-the-next-page curricula don’t work for us. Based on our kids, their learning styles, and our family rhythms we have chosen an eclectic, unschool-y approach. So far, it’s working pretty well.

My kids wake up ready to learn. They’re reading or exploring before breakfast. They’re asking questions in the car and at bedtime. We don’t have school hours as much as we have an ebb and flow of active and focused time.

It’s what works now. If (when) things change, we will adjust.

What we love:

Read-alouds

I love our library.

LOVE our library.

They’re amazing, and they make this homeschooling journey possible and affordable.

Instead of using a prescribed list, I’m constantly on the hunt for good literature. My son, J, has a very low tolerance for anything suspenseful, sad, or mean. He loves humorous, gentle stories.

We use Give Your Child the World and Read Aloud Revival for inspiration, and I’m constantly on the lookout for good, engaging, gentle stories.

Some of our most recent favorites have included

The Littles

Gooney Bird Greene (Kindle Edition currently free with Amazon Prime)

Curious McCarthy

Zoey & Sassafrass

Math

For the last couple of years, we’ve been using Life of Fred as a math resource. My son loves the books and devours them, but this summer we changed things up and tried Beast Academy.

With Life of Fred, J never wanted to stop and do the “Your Turn to Play” practice questions. With Beast Academy, he seems to enjoy the workbooks and want to complete the puzzles, so when he finishes his current book, he will “earn” the next series.

Gameschooling

We practice lots of skills using games. The kids go through phases about what they want to play, and we have learned not to push it. When they’re ready, they’re ready.

We love single player logic games like Kanoodle and Laser Maze.

We love the Gamewright card games like Sleeping Queens and Too Many Monkeys.

We love geography games like The Scrambled States of America and math games like Prime Climb.

We love language games like Scrabble, Apples to Apples (Kids), and Boggle.

Everything Else

Beyond that, we usually pick one skill to develop (typing, cursive, etc), while periodically remembering to practice the others. One of my hopes this year is to introduce piano and music reading. We tried last year, and he wasn’t ready, so we will try again.

We participate in German school, Sunday school, sports, play dates and field trips.

We have a small homeschool coop where we practice public speaking and collaboration/teamwork in a supportive environment.

We follow rabbit trails and dive deep into areas of interest (like chemistry).

We take care of the house, run errands, and practice kindness in our environment.

Because we don’t have a strict schedule, nice days are filled with beaches, parks, and watercolors on the back deck.

I keep a daily journal of what we’ve accomplished, and it continues to convince me that we’re on the right path. My kids love learning. They don’t dread “doing school”, any more than I regret going to a Thanksgiving dinner. Learning is an amazing feast, and our kids deserve a rich variety of high-quality fare.

Want to read about other experienced homeschoolers’ curriculum choices for this coming year? Check it out here!

IHN Linkup Image

Books with Quirky Characters – Day 5

THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS. ANY LINKS TO RESOURCES ON THE AMAZON WEBSITE ARE PART OF THE AFFILIATE PROGRAM. WE ARE A PARTICIPANT IN THE AMAZON SERVICES LLC ASSOCIATES PROGRAM, AN AFFILIATE ADVERTISING PROGRAM DESIGNED TO PROVIDE A MEANS FOR US TO EARN FEES BY LINKING TO AMAZON.COM AND AFFILIATED SITES.

 

So… yesterday (actually, a few days ago!), on Day 4 of my 5 Day series on Asynchrony,

I promised a list of some of our favorite books with quirky main characters.

I’m always on the hunt for high quality books which feature characters who may seem not to fit in but are still loved and valued for who they are. If you know of some not on my list, please comment below!

Picture books :

Archibald Frisby

The Boy Who Loved Math

Ladybug Girl books

Sophie’s Squash

Allysaurus

Young Chapter Books:

Amelia Bedelia

Cam Jansen

Paddington

How to Train Your Dragon

Pippi Longstocking

Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, and most Roald Dahl works

Older Chapter Books:

A Wrinkle in Time

Anne of Green Gables

Harry Potter

The Hunger Games

The Wizard of Oz

Plus pretty much any YA fantasy novel, including those by Garth Nix, Philip Pullman, Cornelia Funke

 

Again, this list could go on & on, so I’m just sharing some of my favorites. If you have a favorite, please share it in the comments!

 

This post has been day 5 of 5 Days of Asynchrony, part of the iHomeschooling Network’s Blog Hopscotch.

Thanks for letting me share with you!

 

 

Asynchrony Day 4 – What Works for Us

Asynchronous kids are awesome, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy for them or for their families to find ways to fit in.

I’ve already described in days 1 & 2 some of the struggles that asynchronous kids face.

Today I’d like to talk about what has been working for us.

1 – Homeschool

We did the public school thing for a couple years, even though it wasn’t a great fit. It was still a safe place for J to interact with other kids and to have a break from his twin sisters’ screaming fits. (His sisters are great, but there are two of them, and they have pretty much always been loud – at home, at least.)

When he came up with algebra on his own when he was five, we took a deep breath and started sending math notes in his lunch box.

When he memorized the periodic table at six, and started showing unhealthy signs of stress, we did the paperwork for him to homeschool.

(Here he just learned about Mendeleev, and was thinking about alternate arrangements for the periodic table. At 6. You can’t make this stuff up.)

It’s been wonderful. He loves it. I can work with him on his writing, which is developmentally normal (7), provide math a few grade levels ahead, let him read his college-level chemistry books and spend hours immersing himself in that, and still have time for some motor skills practice and play – which he needs. He’s 7.

Some people advocate for grade skipping, and that works for some kids in some situations, but homeschool was the right choice for us. For now, at least.

2 – Mixed Age Groups

Asynchronous kids tend to struggle with same-aged peer groups, simply because there is an unwritten expectation that they will all be the same, so my 7yo who can’t yet ride a bike but would like to talk about double land-locked countries in Europe stands out.

In mixed age groups, that expectation is minimized. He can help younger kids, who expect him to be academically further along, or chat with older kids, who can keep up mentally but don’t expect him to be physically or emotionally a peer.

A few friends and I created a really sweet homeschool coop this year. Some kids can read, some are too young or are on their way. Some are neurotypical, and others have various disabilities, but our goal has been to encourage healthy interactions and to give the kids chances to share their own voices. It’s been good.

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3 – A Relaxed Pace

I’m in no way implying that J has a relaxed pace when it comes to what he wants to learn. No, he actually devours new knowledge, and we have to slow him down, or he will go into overdrive and have trouble self-regulating.

What I mean is that, because of his personality and learning style, we don’t push lots of formalized curricula. Instead, we explore together, focus on doing a few things well, and maybe add one challenging or not-self-motivated item at a time. He’ll get there.

4 – Bibliotherapy

We read lots of books around here, and I’m always on the hunt for books that feature quirky main characters who don’t always fit in but are still loved and appreciated by those around them.

I’ll post about these tomorrow. 🙂

This has been Day 4 of my 5 Days of a Asynchrony series, part of a blog hopscotch organized by iHomeschool Network.

Asynchrony – Favorite Bloggers and Thinkers

If anything I’ve been writing in a Days 1 or 2 of this series has been striking a chord with you, here are some resources I have found helpful:

Hoagies Gifted is a wonderful resource of all things gifted – little kids to adults, all types of school environments, etc. They have a number of Asynchrony articles and resources. Here are two to get you started:

http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/asynchrony.htm

http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/asynchronous.htm

 

A few of my favorite bloggers:

Colleen Kessler at Raising Lifelong Learners

https://raisinglifelonglearners.com/the-ultimate-guide-to-homeschooling-gifted-children/

Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley at My Little Poppies

https://my-little-poppies.com/asynchronous-development-and-the-gifted-child/

Celi Trépanier at Crushing Tall Poppies

http://crushingtallpoppies.com/2014/07/15/6-gifted-students-develop-asynchronously/

 

Other worthwhile resources:

From Psychology Today

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/creative-synthesis/201201/many-ages-once

A Scholarly Article by Linda Kreger Silverman

https://positivedisintegration.com/Silverman1997.pdf

Very Well Family

https://www.verywellfamily.com/asynchronous-development-1449172

The National Association for Gifted Children

http://www.nagc.org/sites/default/files/Publication%20PHP/NAGC%20TIP%20Sheet-Asynchronous%20Development-FINAL%20REVISED-OCTOBER%202017%281%29.pdf

This article is Day 3 of the iHomeschool Network 2018 Hopscotch.

Tomorrow I’ll be writing about what works for our family, tricks and tools we’ve been picking up along the way.

Asynchrony Day 2 – it’s not your fault

Yesterday I started sharing a little bit of our story and how Asynchrony affects our family, especially my son.

He was reading – fluently – before he was potty trained. And we didn’t teach him to read. Sure, we read a lot together, and he watched shows like Super Why and Word World occasionally, but we didn’t ever sit down and do sight words or phonics lessons. He just picked it up.

It’s not hot-housing.

Asynchrony has very little to do with how a parent parents and very much to do with how a kid is wired.

We have 3 kids. I didn’t treat the other two any differently or deprive them of any opportunities, but they are 4 and still months away from any kind of formal reading exercise. That’s ok. They’re doing great.

When J was 3, he was interested in reading, numbers, astronomy, and sticker books. He would sit for hours doing these things, not because I forced him but because that was what he was drawn to, where his interests lay.

It’s perfectly logical, then, that the parts of his brain that got the most exercise grew the fastest. Now, I wasn’t a terrible mom. We had play dates, gymnastics, swimming lessons, church nursery, library programs, and even a creative arts preschool because I wanted him to have lots of opportunities to move, create, and interact with other kids and adults, and he participated, sometimes more happily than others, but it wasn’t his passion.

He grew most in the areas he loved and cared deeply about. Not because I or anyone else pushed him.

J is now 7, and Asynchrony is still our constant companion, but it now takes different forms. It means he’s more comfortable with adults than peers (more about that later this week), and that we often struggle to find reading material that is both challenging and appropriate for his emotional development. I have even asked the library for “boring” books — the opposite of those high interest/low reading level books that most others are looking for.

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A couple weeks ago, our kids created a “town” with masking tape roads, locations on index cards, etc. It started as a co-op activity and then continued at home.

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My asynchronous kid added

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Hennig Brand (who discovered the element phosphorous) to the street plan.

No one put him up to it, asked him to include famous historical figures, or anything of the sort. It’s how he “ticks”, not any kind of external expectation.

Asynchrony is a description, not a diagnosis. It describes these kids with intense internal drives to understand more, do more, know more, and how they interact with the world around them.

This is Day 2 of 5 Days of Asynchrony, part of a blog hopscotch put together by the inspiring people at iHomeschool Network.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting about some of my favorite bloggers and writers who have helped me wrap my mind around asynchrony and given me ideas to help our family.

Thursday I’ll be posting about what works for us, as well as for other families with asynchronous members.