curriculum review: Explode the Code

We’ve been using the Explode the Code series of workbooks this year.

Explode the Code, Book 1   -              By: Nancy Hall

Eliza has completed book 1 and 2 and is halfway through book 3.  I ordered them as a supplement to the language/phonics program we would be doing when we started last fall and they quickly became a primary tool for us.

I would not say ETC is a comprehensive program for phonics or spelling, but it does cover those disciplines in wonderful bite-sized ways.  It also gives your child handwriting practice.

ETC assumes when you start book 1 that your child knows their consonant sounds, but does a brief review of them in the beginning of the book.  It then moves to the vowel sound ‘a’ and, by the end of book 1, covers all the vowels, with the child spelling short one-syllable words from the get go and progressively incorporating the new vowel sounds.

Book 2 covers initial consonant blends and final consonant blends.  Book 3 reiterates all the skills taught so far and moves on to one-syllable words ending with a long vowel (such as -y and silent -e words).  It also teaches digraphs (-sh, -th, -wh, -ch, -ng, -ck) and trigraphs (-tch, -ee-ea, -ai-ay, and -oa-ow).

Also, there are Explode the Code primers which teach the consonant sounds in order to prepare for the basic Explode the Code.  Furthermore they have ETC books 1 1/2 and 2 1/2, etc.  These in between books provide extra practice for the student who needs it.

The ETC series has 8 books total that range from dipthongs, word families, three letter blends, soft c and g and suffixes/endings.  I’m not sure if we’ll continue on with it or not, but for this Kindergarten year, ETC has been invaluable for phonics reinforcement and basic spelling.

The workbooks are not overwhelming.  The pages are easy to complete and really boost the child’s confidence.  Eliza has felt very competent to work in them independently and we have found 2 pages per day to be manageable and suit our needs.

If you have a preschool, kindergarten or 1st grade student (depending on their abilities) these first Explode the Code books may be useful for you to check out.

the teacher I never knew I was

I never wanted to be a teacher.

Not ever.

When I was a kid and people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I never said “teacher.”  I looked at my many friends pursuing teaching degrees in college with a mixture of pity and wonderment.  Pity because of all the busy work in those horrid education classes*.  And wonderment because, to me, it was the height of self-sacrifice.

When I was 10 or so and my best friend would set up “school” for us to play, it took all the enthusiasm I could muster to go along.  She’d happily stand at the front with ruler in hand pointing at the board, going over lesson after lesson, while I’d sit on the floor, the dutiful student waiting for school to get out.

Now that I’m a homeschooling mom, teaching is my life.  Let’s face it, if you’re a mom, period, teaching is a big part of your life, even if you’re not homeschooling.  Everything about having kids involves teaching.

But, shockingly, I love to teach.  There, I said it.  I love to teach my kids.  And no one could be more surprised about it than I am.  Yes, it’s hard work and yadda yadda yadda, but what I didn’t know was that it is also incredibly rewarding and exciting.

I’ve always loved to learn.  I could have stayed in school for a very long time and been quite happy, I think.  Teaching my kids gives me an opportunity to continue learning and it also has pushed my relationship with my kids to levels that I wouldn’t have anticipated.

Looking at curriculum, getting to decide what fits my kids and our family best, reading and reading and reading some more, it’s awakened the teacher in me that I never knew I was.

Having my daughter read a book to me and knowing that I had a hand, the hand, in teaching her to do that, is a reward better than any degree I could earn.  And, at least I got to avoid the busy work!

*Not all teaching degrees require horrid busy work.  That’s just my perception. 🙂