Ideas for the homeschool and classroom . . .

Reading Difficulties

When I began homeschooling, I was so looking forward to the joy of teaching my own children how to read. I could not wait to see the excitement on their little faces as the wonderful world of books opened before them. For my oldest daughter, however, all I saw was frustration. She had such a hard time with making rhymes and memorizing sight words. I tried several different reading programs, but nothing seemed to help. I finally stumbled across and immediately purchased the Dolch Sight Words DVDs, which employs a multisensory (visual, auditory and kenesthetic) approach to teaching sight words. I remember clearly the day that my daughter ran over to me while the DVD was playing to hug me and say, “Thank you, Mommy, for buying the video. Now the words are finally getting into my head.”

In spite of our success with sight words, my daughter was still frustrated and so was I. I had recently completed a degree in linguistics but was not sure how to help her further. Finally, I discovered an Orton-Gillingham influenced, multisensory program for reading & spelling called the Barton Reading & Spelling System. The program is rather expensive for a homeschooling family but well worth the investment. The 10-level program (levels do not correspond with grade levels) works on phonemic awareness and teaches students the six syllable types, spelling rules, roots, affixes, and morphology. My daughter is now a reader; we’re halfway through Level 4 of Barton. We’re still working on improving fluency, but she is no longer reluctant to pick up a book. She is now reading Little House in the Big Woods on her own. That’s what I call success!

Along our reading journey, I have developed little activities to help my daughter further practice her reading skills and have now made them available in my Teachers Pay Teacher store. Having Fun with Fry Word List offers kids the opportunity to create their own set of sight word flash cards. All ten Fry high-frequency word lists (100 words per list) are available for bundled or individual purchase.

My newest activity, which I am currently using with my daughter, is Having Fun with Closed, Two-Syllable Words. It offers a creative, multisensory and fun approach to teach children how to divide and read closed, two-syllable words.

I am sure that somewhere there is another homeschooling mom struggling to teach her child how to read. I hope that this post will help them locate helpful resources.

Happy reading!

The At-Home Educator


Place Value Freebie

Place value and reading large numbers can be tricky for some children. After a lot of work, my 9 and 10-year old daughters have finally mastered it. To help them along the way, however, I created this fun poster. You can download the poster for free from my Teachers Pay Teachers store at the following link:

I hope you like it!



A few years back, I worked as a writing consultant for a company that catered to homeschoolers. I provided children of all ages with step-by-step guidance via email in completing various writing projects. We worked on descriptive paragraphs, persuasive and personal essays, amplification of fables, and even an historical novel. It was great fun seeing their writing grow leaps and bounds in such a short timeframe. Based on my experience as a writing consultant, I decided to put together a stand-alone, guided mini-lessons series to teach various modes of witing. The first of the series presents five mini-lessons on writing an impressionistic descriptive paragraph. The lessons are written informally in a fun and engaging style. The mini-lessons are great for homeschooling or a writing center activity. A rubric is also included to help the parent-teacher evaluate the child’s work. I am offering the first set of mini-lessons in the series as a FREE download in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. Here is the link:

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My daughters love logic puzzles! They are a fun way to practice critical thinking skills. There are many ways to use logic puzzles in the classroom:

  1. Work through each puzzle as a class for a filler activity.
  2. Use the puzzles as extra credit sheets.
  3. Laminate the sheets and use them as a reading center activity. Students can write their answers using a dry eraser marker.

I have two critical thinking logic puzzle products available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store:

I plan on making more of these at increasing levels of difficulty, so let me know if there is a particular theme that you would like.

For my first blog post, I thought that I’d share a quote by Louis Pasteur that just about sums up my philosophy of education:

“When I approach a child, he inspires in me two sentiments: tenderness for what he is and respect for what he may become.”

As parents and teachers, we have the awesome privilege to participate in the education of the children who will architect the future. What are your thoughts on the quote?

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