distar: our reading program of choice

“Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons” almost sounds like its coming from a home TV shopping commercial.

We’re not the type to catch up on trend purchases, nor are we the types to rely on “instant” and “pre-packaged” products. Whenever we can, we try to make things from scratch. And the same goes with how we educate our children.

We’re past that phase when we were willing to pay for anything and everything that we think would be beneficial for our children. Seriously, almost everything on the market nowadays is likely to be beneficial in one way or another. And we obviously can’t afford to buy everything. We’ve learned this the hard way, and now we are much more discerning about when we make our purchases.

So, moving back, a book titled “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons” is not something that would easily attract our attention. In fact, if we see titles like this on a bookshelf, we’re most likely to head on to the next shelf. Again, not a fan of quick and easy, instant stuff.

I taught my children to read. And all the while I thought that after they learned phonetics and blending, they’re good to go. They’re reading books by themselves with minimal interruption on difficult words by me. They’re reading books, end to end, almost entirely by themselves. They should be good to go.

And then came Ari’s assessment with TLP, which was the cause of so much worrying for Turo and I. The assessment revealed that Ari still had gaps in terms of reading proficiency. And because I was the one who taught him how to read, this was not the easiest for me to accept. But of course, as adults, we couldn’t be throwing tantrums when somebody else point out our shortcomings. Especially if it involves our children’s education and future.

And so we obliged when TLP’s school director recommended that we used the Distar program to reinforce Ari’s reading skills. “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons” is a book by Engelmann, Haddox and Bruner, adapted from the Distar Fast Cycle, under copyright from Science Research Associates, Inc. (SRA). I am a huge fan of the SRA program when I was in elementary, so at least there was some level of comfort for me in using this material for teaching my son.

Basically, the title of the book says it all. All it takes is a hundred easy lessons. The material is no-nonsense. Doesn’t take any taxing preparation. All you need is to get familiar with the Distar alphabet before starting with the first lesson so you can sound out the letters and words correctly, and avoid confusing your child. The lessons spiral and ensures that the child masters even the more difficult skills required for long vowels, silent letters, digraphs, etc. It also allows the child to master reading irregularly sounded words by integrating them in the word exercises early on. Writing exercises are also included, which is always a good thing.

About a quarter into the book, your child begins to read paragraphs which later turns into short stories, then longer stories, then two-part stories, with accompanying pictures and questions to support comprehension.

Even when Ari already knows how to read when we started with the program, we had been religious in covering all lessons from the start. We are now in Lesson # 89, and according to my schedule we are only 2 more days from completing all 100 lessons. Then by the end of this week Ari and I will head back to TLP for his reading skills assessment.

I’m now very excited for Ari to finish the program and find out that he would be able to do well in the assessment. Even more, I am thrilled because I know he is much more equipped to tackle any reading material by himself. Because he knows all phonics rules and he’ll be able to apply this knowledge to 3- or 5- or 7-lettered words, or even longer.

Before I always worry that my children might not like reading as much as I do, because I really want them to be voracious readers and learners. But every time they ask for story time, which is no less than once in a day, I couldn’t help but give myself an invisible tap on the back for a job well done.

p.s. We have recently started reading chapter books. Reading just gets better and more exciting for me and the kids.

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