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It Works--Thoughts and tips from a dad who taught his 3 kids
on January 19, 2004
Overview: The book does what it says, pretty much. In just 100 lessons you child should learn to read on a first-grade level. Not just decode words, but read and understand. The lessons are generally easy. I wondered how the book would get across difficult concepts such as short and long vowels and letter sometimes having different sounds. These are worked into the lessons just like everything else-a little bit at a time and in the right order-and they were no problem. There are no big concepts to teach, facts to memorize, etc. Some parts of some lessons might be difficult, but the concepts are broken down into pieces and taught over several lessons, so there are no stumbling blocks. Just 10-15 minutes for a lesson each night.
Other Books: I can't compare this to other books. This was the only one I could find when I started to teach my children and so I've not seen any others to compare it against. I know one book has a title of 20 lessons. After my experiences, I don't think 20 lessons is enough to learn anything useful.
My Experience, Child 1: I started with my oldest when she was 5. I was learning about how to do this while she was learning how to read. She was (and is) strong-willed and got upset easily when she had a problem. With the book's method, when the child makes a mistake you just tell them what they should say and let them try again until they get it right-very little pressure. However, my oldest would get frustrated when she could not get it right the first time. She would get so frustrated we would had to stop in the middle of a lesson and start over in a day or two many, many times. We also did not have a lesson every day. When she started kindergarten, I stopped the lessons because of the problems we were having and the fact that she was learning phonics in school. However, what she did learn gave her a head start and helped her. My experiences with my other two children showed that her experience was an exception. I think the problem was my lack of experience and her strong-willed nature. If I had it to do over, I would have continued the lessons though kindergarten.
Child 2: I started child 2 when she was 5. I had learned a lot from my first attempt and we did just fine. I did not remember to give her a lesson every day so it took a while to finish. We were only at 50 when she started kindergarten but we continued anyway. Starting at about lesson 60 or so she really seemed to catch on and each lesson got easier. She is now reading on level 3.2 half-way through first grade.
Child 3: I just started child 3 when he was 4 1/2. We are at lesson 25 and he is doing even better than child 2. We are having lessons almost every day and he should be finished when he is 5.
1. Skip the "Writing Sounds" section of each lesson. This is the last part of each lesson where the child writes the letters they are learning. My first child had a problem with the "Writing Sounds" part of each lesson. She spent more time on this that the rest of the lesson and got frustrated with it very easily. On the advice of an elementary teacher, I started skipping this. She did better after that. I skipped for my other two and they did just fine without it. It does help reinforce learning the sounds, but it is a lot of effort than can discourage the child for a small return in learning.
2. Be on the look out for typos. There are quite a few of them in the book. There were all in the words for the parent, so it's not too bad. Most of them are words in the wrong color-red verses black.
3. Don't be too literal with reading exactly the instructions the parent is supposed to read to the child. In particular, the phrase "Don't get fooled" appeared a lot. This got old very quick and didn't apply anyway so I started leaving it out.
4. The book teaches pronouncing "was" as "wuz." This is an acceptable pronunciation, but I believe that "woz" is more correct. (And I'm from Alabama.) I taught mine to say "woz". You might want to do this also. (This is one of the few words like "is" and "said" that can't just be sounded out.)
5. The hardest thing for my children to learn was the leap from saying the sounds in a word to saying the word-from s (pause) a (pause) m to sam. This is really the only hard thing in the book. If you child has a problem with this, work on this with them. Tell them to try to keep saying one sound until they start the next one. They will eventually get it right. It took my second from lesson 15 until about lesson 40 to get this right. With my third child I knew this going in and emphasized the "rhyming" and other parts in the first 20 lessons and he picked it up a lot quicker.
6. Before you start, read through a few lessons throughout the book to get a feel for how the lessons progress. This would have helped me a lot with the first child.
7. Don't get stressed. It really is 100 easy lessons. If your child has a problem, feel free to backup a few lessons.
8. Try very hard not to skip days. This was really a problem with my first two. I've been better about it with my third and it seems to help.