When it came time to look at reading and writing programs, I was understandably excited. After all, reading and writing are my jams. So, what programs to use to share my love of the written word?
Again, I needed to keep in mind the active and exuberant nature of my little elfling. She wants to do everything but rarely has the patience to sit down and be taught how to do so. She’s the type of kid that wants to do everything on her own, with no help or interference from a grown-up. I needed something that would allow her to move and groove and feel confident in her achievements early on or else she would be bored and that would be that. At the same time, I also needed a fairly gentle approach because after all, she’s still pretty young to be learning this sort of thing. So I wanted to start slow and build that love for words in a gradual manner.
I selected two programs that reinforce one another but offer slightly different approaches to letters and words: Handwriting Without Tears and Get Ready for the Code. I purchased these programs months ago and have been using them for little over a month now.
Handwriting Without Tears
This program was a no-brainer for my child. It utilizes a multi-sensory approach to teaching letter recognition and writing, using wooden blocks and mat, chalkboard, songs, and a fun little mascot called “Mat Man.” Oli, in particular, loves the Mat Man song and she always asks to do it several times. In fact, doing Mat Man makes a great transition either to or from lessons. I usually save it for last so she has something to work towards and we end on a fun note.
Handwriting without tears also offers a Pre-K program, but I opted to start with the Kindergarten curriculum. There area variety of materials to choose from so that you can customize your program for your little one. I purchased the teacher’s guide, the “Letter and Numbers for Me” children’s workbook, the wood pieces set for capital letters, the blue placement mat, and the Wet-Dry-Try app for my ipad. Everything cost me less than $75.00.
The teacher’s guide is the key to using this program. It includes a variety of activities that correspond with the supplemental materials you can purchase or make at home. It also has step-by-step instructions for the teaching of each capital and lower case letter and has a recommended curriculum (order for teaching) in the back. It’s really pretty useful and while it has a fully planned curriculum, there is a lot of room for personalization. You can take a look at the sample pages here, which are what decided me upon the program.
Get Ready, Set, Go for the Code
This is a program that builds and reinforces pre-literacy skills such as left-to-right tracking, shape and letter identification, and following directions. There is a lot of repetition in recognizing and writing letters and I would recommend that if you are using this program, use only the pages that work for you and your child. Forcing your child to go through each and every page may or may not be productive for your child. Take a look at this video review here by Crazy Busy Family Life to see examples of the pages. I also appreciate this mom’s no-stress approach to using the workbook pages.
I discovered that when we went through an entire letter section, doing every page, my daughter really got antsy and found the work boring. So, what we tried next, was only focusing on recognition pages which boosted her confidence. We saved the writing activities for later – even after we finished all three workbooks in this beginning set.
There are also some supplement materials for this program that you can purchase. Along with the teacher’s guide and workbooks A-C, I also purchased the Picture Letter Cards and the wall chart with activity guide. I also spent around $75 on this program.
[More on how I used these two programs together and other supplement materials I purchased here…]