So when the opportunity for reviewing some items from Memoria Press came up, I was pretty excited. We are a fairly classical family and I’m even working on beefing up my own classical education. You know, the one I never got in school :).
Anyway, we ended up receiving a copy of MP’s program for phonics, reading and handwriting called First Start Reading for our little crazy lady who is about 4.5 years old.
About Memoria Press
Memoria Press is a family owned company who strives to provide Christian classical education materials from history and literature to geography and latin. They create and sell materials from preschool to 12th grade.
In order to facilitate this review of First Reading Lessons, we received the entire curriculum which consists of the parent/teacher manual and 4 thin student workbooks.
The workbooks are very simple and are designed to to reinforce what the parent teaches and quickly give success in reading to whet the appetite for more. It also includes pages in each lesson designed to teach printing, both traced an free form letters, upper and lowercase.
How We Used First Start Reading
We used First Start Reading with my 4.5 year old daughter, Miss Lady. Up to this point, she has learned everything by listening & watching. She is very hands-on and a little auditory in her learning styles. She is also my loose cannon; she likes to learn but only when it suits her, so I knew that we would have to go nice and gentle.
My goal was to use this 3-4 days a week, and do 1 lesson every two days. Despite being sick for 2 solid weeks during the testing period, we were able to make “spring break” work in our favor. She loved getting extra school time while her sister was taking a much needed break!
Each lesson has 2 pages in the student workbook. For letter sounds, they illustrate the sound (or words) being made. For later pages, there are spaces to draw your own picture. The opposite page has lines to draw your own letters. There is a traceable set for both uppercase & lowercase as well as blank lines with the starting dots.
While you could try to just use the workbooks, I really wouldn’t advise it. The parent/teacher book guides you through teaching step by step. The first two lessons are for letters “A” and “M.” I took two days per letter to start. On the first day, we talked about the pictures and letter sounds and traced as many letters as I could convince her to do. There were a lot to attaboys :). On the second day, we reviewed the previous day’s work and then tried to listen for the sound first at the beginning then at the end of a set of words.
Honestly, I really could have stretched each lesson to three easy days. Which I might do because she IS so young and showing signs of readiness, but not quite to the point of pretending she IS reading :). Already on lesson 3, we had our first word — am. Then she could read “I am.” I got so excited at her apparent ease that I got out the first red reader. Then I quickly realized that she wasn’t able to make the blended sounds equal words in her mind yet :).
Teaching reading is my least favorite subject. It’s slow and tedious and until it clicks it is intensely frustrating. That being said, we slowly go through the lessons, learning the letter sounds, practicing blending, and writing letters.
Overall, I think this classical phonics program would be great for kids who are REALLY ready to read. If you have a child who already knows several sounds and tries on their own to sound things out, this would be a fabulous fit, I think. They could quickly move from letter sounds to words and sentences that makes sense but are still easy. In other programs we have tried and used, my kids have been bored with learning only phonograms before learning to put them together.
By the end of Book A, students learn the first half of the letter sounds, but many words/word families. Books B & C introduce a few new letters each and work heavily on making words from the letters that are known. The practice & use of words is emphasized more than the individual sounds. Book D is a tad shorter and emphasizes mostly practice in reading and a few multi-letter phonograms/dipthongs. Very few new letters are introduced.
At the end of Book A, you learn a fair number of words and by half way through Book C, the passages are surprisingly complex! You can check out First Start Reading sample pages and scope & sequence of all 4 books at the Memoria Press website.
First Start Reading would be a great fit for visual learners. The pictures and even how the write the text while learning to blend words help the student do that. While my 4 year old daughter isn’t quite there yet, I suspect my older daughter would have done VERY well with these materials if presented at the right time. The quick successes at the beginning make it a great program for kids who want to know how to read yesterday :).
Click here to find more crew reviews of First Start Reading & Copywork materials from Memoria Press.