Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Delightful Reading

Just today I finished, with my ds who is just barely 6 years old, the lessons for Robert Louis Stevenson's poem "Rain", which are the first full-fledged reading lessons in the Delightful Reading package. Prior to this, for about 3 months now, we had done simple word-building work, using the word families suggested in the teacher guide. My ds appears to be a natural reader, along the lines of my oldest dd who in Year 1 was using the Declaration of Independence for her reading lessons because we needed something that challenging in order for her to have at least one new word in each lesson. I provide this information so you'll have context for my comments below.

The teacher guide supplies you with the text of CM's Volume 1 that applies to teaching reading, along with some helpful notes. It supplies you with suggestions for alphabet and word building activities to use before beginning reading lessons. It supplies you with reading lessons using primarily poems and scripture passages; the lessons include word families and sentences that can be created from the words in the families and in the actual passage.

The kit also supplies you with cardboard alphabet cards and word cards to cut out, with little baggies to store the cards, labels for the baggies (separated by each line or section of the reading), and a lovely bag in which to keep all the baggies. It further has a little booklet that contains all the reading passages from which the reading lessons are drawn as well as pages following each passage with sentences built from words in that passage, separate pages with sentences built from words in each section of the passage.

This is all very handy to have at your fingertips like that. You can create just such a kit yourself--I figured since I have two more children learning to read, I'd go ahead and spend the money and check it out since I really didn't want to spend the time putting my own package together this summer. I am pleased with what I have, mostly.

However. . .

Some choices were made in putting this package together that I would not have made and which may create problems for some young readers. Specifically, I have concerns with some of the word family choices. IMO, word families should contain only words which use the same spelling to represent the same sound. Therefore, the word "fall" could have in its family "small" and "wall" but not "shall". The word "rain" could have in its family "main" and "lain" but not "again" (unless you're from a place where "again" is pronounced the same way as "rain"! lol).  The word "around" could have "wound" (as in "the clock was wound") but not "wound" (as in "the wound was slow to heal"). By mixing in words that have dissimilar sounds for the same spelling, you introduce ambiguity that should not be present, particularly in the first lessons, imo. My ds who is using this package right now gives every appearance of becoming a strong reader quite quickly, so these inconsistencies, although confusing for him, are not likely to throw him completely off. My dd who I am still teaching to read at 8 years old would have been devastated by these--for her I didn't even use real literature because there wasn't enough repetition of word families, so we used the McGuffey Primer and have taken more than 2 years to work through it!

This package would have worked excellently with my oldest dd and should work excellently with my ds (although I am omitting the words that do not fit in the given word families). My second dd would not have been able to progress with this at all, not because CM's methods don't work for her (they are the best methods she can use!) but because the progression in these reading passages is too fast. That's probably not an indictment of this package, because it is not aimed at children like her and in order to serve her would have to offer up a completely separate set of materials.

[This post was edited to reflect an additional problematic word family situation and an adjustment I am making with my ds.]


  1. I've been wondernig about the Delightful Reading program...thanks for providing the review!

  2. oops I meant to say "wondering", of course!

  3. we are moving s l o w l y through DR with my 7 yo daughter. She is only now starting to express interest in reading, but it seems like the time spent on reading is really more about developing the habit of attention. I am pleased with DR so far, but I do not see "Rain" in the forecast for us ;) Not for a long while!

  4. Sally, with my 2nd dd, I used the McGuffey Primer with CM-style activities. This worked really well for her because she needed the slower pace and simpler vocabulary progression. The Primer can often be found at used bookstores, homeschool booksales, and places like that. Look for the Primer, not the Pictorial Primer or the First Reader or anything else. I suspect you can also find the Primer online, at Google Books or someplace like that.

  5. Great review. Mine are past this, but I was curious about this SCM product. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Thanks for the review! My kids are from Haiti. English is their second language. We have been using Writing Road to Reading. My daughter, almost 9, still needs to sound out every word she reads. I have been considering Delightful reading for our Summer reading program to help both children move past sounding out and to reading. So, I appreciate this review.

    Our phonics program is forever emphasizing teaching kids to teach kids to "think to spell." The word again is taught with two long a's actually. The first a is long because the vowels a, e, O and u generally say their name at the end of a syllable. The phonogram /ai/ is a long a. There is a big emphasis on not teaching to kids to spell words based upon how they are pronounced in various parts of the country. It has annoyed me, but my kids get it. Well, except, we are supposed to teach that the /y/ at the end of words generally says the short /i/ sound rather than the long /e/ sound. My daughter argues every time, so I just added a new sound. I am a rebel like that. ;o)

  7. Julie, your dd might respond much better to word-family type work that doesn't rely on phonics rules but relies on pattern recognition. In CM's methods, the child is not taught the rules but figures them out through the word family work.

    I will say, and I need to post an update I suppose, that I am less happy with this product as time goes on simply because far too many non-rhyming words are included in word families. (Non-rhyming no matter what your accent! lol) Rather than being an occasional aberration, it's becoming a factor in almost every lesson. As a result, I can't even use the student book. I still find the lists of CM's guidelines helpful, and I still sometimes use the lessons without using the objectionable word family words, so it's not a total loss, but I can't recommend it strongly.

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  9. I am wondering if this will be good for my dd. She is only 4...but very eager. I am Australian and I'm wondering if going with an American Program would be unhelpful!?

  10. What do you think would present a problem if you use an American program? Is it the word pronunciations?

    If that's what you are concerned about, it's a valid concern, but much of the product will work just fine. All the preschool materials are simply instructions--so you would work it out with any words you like, pronouncing them in the way you prefer. The "lessons" which are not to be started until after age 6 and which require all the earlier work to have been done already *do* have word families which make pronunciation an issue, but since the word families aren't set up correctly for even American English, I don't expect it to work any less effectively for you than it does for us.

    "Delightful Reading" is, so far as I know, the only reading program even attempting to use Charlotte Mason's reading recommendations, so you don't really have options.

  11. This is Project girl...
    Thank You for your comments :) They have been very helpful :)