Friday, August 6, 2010

Sonlight and Spell to Write and Read

I decided to put a post together about this topic since I had a reader ask.  Really, there is no mystery...I just use each program in its entirety.  I just substitute SWR for Sonlight's LA.  Here are a couple of items worth noting:

SWR is a complete LA program for K-2/3.  It includes all of the necessary phonics, handwriting, grammar, and writing for those ages.  Despite that, I'm adding Cursive First for handwriting (really, we're finished with this), First Language Lessons (grammar), and Writing with Ease (writing) this year for 1st grade. 

Cursive First was designed to use with SWR to teach cursive.  There's not much to it but it provided just enough support to give me confidence teaching cursive to D-Man. It does include worksheets that correspond with learning the phonograms. We used some of them, but ditched them when we started the spelling lists for the year. D-man is pretty intolerant of busy work and writing the words throughout the week gives him ample handwriting practice. We sometimes have little refreshers on how two letters connect (mostly after a straight connecter, but he's getting better each week).

Writing with Ease (WWE) and First Language Lessons (FLL) are not necessary for most people using SWR. I'm adding them because those are the areas in which I am the least confident teaching. I learned very little grammar in school so the scripted nature of FLL will be a big help. I plan to teach the boys writing classically and WWE is giving us a good head start on that road. However, instead of using the WWE workbooks, I'm correlating our narration and dictation with our SL and Noeo reading. Another reason is simply that I love to supplement with great resources. If you've read my blog at all, you know that by now and take my supplementing with a grain of salt :).

I do still use the Sonlight readers alongside SWR. SWR does call for assigned reading several weeks into the program (after list I-1). I found the recommendation to wait on assigned reading a good one. The author, Wanda Sanseri, calls reading too early "torture reading" and waits until the child has the skills he needs to read well. Before they start reading books, they read the spelling lists several times a week to practice decoding and fluency. By the time D-Man got to list I-1, he started in week 24 of Sonlight's Readers 1 (after the I Can Read It Series). His fluency took off and he was soon capable of reading at a 4th grade level. I've chosen to keep him tracking in Sonlight's reader programs so he's working his way through Readers 2. They are an easy read for him, but he's enjoying the books and often chooses tougher material from the library as his free reading selections. I have him read all of the Sonlight books aloud to me while he reads his free reading selections silently. His reading and spelling levels are still steadily improving through the SWR spelling lists and enrichments. C-Monster is a bit of a different animal as he started reading before 3 and likes to pick up Fun Tales (Readers K) or Bob Books so I expect him to continue this trend over the next year and possibly getting through the first 24 weeks of Readers 1 (which he's capable of reading now) or farther. Between our collection and the library, we'll have plenty of books to keep him busy.


Ashley Claunch said...

Thanks for posting! I check your blog on occassion and love seeing how school is going. Sounds like things are going well. I have SWR and have planned to use it for my 4 year old. He's just learning the first 26 phonograms. I felt like he needed some motivation so we picked up 100 Easy lessons and he read his first Bob book! We are reviewing a and e since he's having a hard time remembering them once we added 2 vowels. Any thoughts on using 100 Easy lessons for K4 then SWR for grade 5? Encouragements/ warnings? I saw you had used 100 Easy lessons for K4. We're also doing print and will move to Cursive ASAP. He had a really hard time learning both at the same time. My question is, will you use Cursive First with your second boy, or do you think you'll start print first? It sounds like the transition is going well for your first boy and that's what I'm hoping for. Thanks for sharing!

Dinsfamily said...

Yeah for him reading his first Bob book! I did use 100 EZL briefly with D-Man. However, I won't be using it again. It isn't really compatible with SWR and wasn't a very positive experience for us. Now that I've experienced two boys learning to read, I've discovered that it just works better for us to stick with the SWR method. Both boys learned differently, but still using SWR. D-Man being the SWR poster child and learning just like the book describes while C-Monster learned a couple of phonograms and figured out the reading part himself before his third birthday.

100 EZL does do a great job with teaching blending which I will draw from if needed in the future. It would be easy to incorporate the fast/slow-type exercises into any program. It isn't a complete phonics program, but that wouldn't matter for you since you'll fill in all those gaps with SWR.

I'll definitely do Cursive First with C-Monster next year. I felt like print wasn't necessary for D-Man and we kind of wasted a year. His FMS did improve immensely that year so that wasn't a complete loss, but he'd have a better memory of cursive letter formation with another year of experience. We had to do a bit of review after being on vacation for a month.

I hope all of that helps, Taira

Ashley Claunch said...

Thank you so much for the response! This helped tremendously. I like the idea of getting my 4yr old started on reading since he would enjoy it so much. That's why I thought 100EZ lessons would help, but I do see the inconsistancies with SWR and we've stalled on lesson 9. He's having a hard time with the vowels and I think learing the markings are confusing him. He does better right now with memorizing all the sounds of the phonograms and the Bob books. We did phonogram review today and worked on the 2nd Bob book. 100 EZ did help a lot with blending. He's very good at that. Above, I meant to type K5 instead of grade 5. So, I think I'll continue with him learning the first 26 phonograms and starting Bob Books (as he shows interest), then next year officially starting SWR list A. This year for K4, he'll learn print letters and just do a little bit of practice writing and tracing the letters with his finger. Next year, we'll work on real handwriting with Cursive First for K5. I think the second child has the benefit of Mom having her mind made up about curriculum and they got to watch an older sibling do it:) I think our second will know all of his print letters by K4 and will be ready for cursive. I know I'm typing a lot, but I just wanted to share. Thank you so much again for the detailed response! God bless!

Robin said...

I loved this post. I'm also a Sonlight boy in Core 3 one in Core 1. We use SWR, FLL and WWE with my 7 year old too! Haven't used Cursive First yet.....I'm using a Pictures in Cursive program from that is very Charlotte Mason (which I love!)

Thanks for this post! I realize I'm not the only mom who struggles with LA anxiety!

Dinsfamily said...


It's fun to find people using both SWR and SL since I don't think it's very common. You're definitely not the only one who struggles with LA anxiety. I'm hoping to learn enough teaching D-Man that it'll be easy with the youngers.

Anonymous said...

Great site. A lot of useful information here. I’m sending it to some friends!

Dee said...

Thank you!! Thank you!! I've been trying to figure out how to reconcile the use of SWR with SL. I have 4 under 5, so I'm trying to find the right fit!!! This helped so much!