Hannah's reading has really taken off in the last couple of months. But this did not happen overnight. It has been a process that has been years in the making. When we first got home from China, Hannah and I would sit at the computer and play at Starfall.com. Vicki Miller introduced me to this site years ago and we have really enjoyed it. Hannah learned to click on the letters herself and she was delighted. She learned to sign "apple" for "A" from this site and she would pull on my hand and sign "apple" and point to to computer to try to convince me that it was computer time. We also had Leap Frog's Fridge Words
on the fridge which Hannah and all the cousins made good use of. Then a neighbor changed our lives and gave us a Leap Frog Letter Factory DVD. The older cousins knew all their letters and sounds and this reinforced them while the younger cousins learned all their letters and sounds very quickly. We bought the follow up DVDs Word Factory and Code Word Caper and everyone learned basic reading in a flash!
Hannah still wasn't convinced that reading was the best use of her time though. There were cousins to be played with and backpacks to fill with random toys and carry around, dominoes to sort etc. Each day for school we had to use the same technique for reading as for writing - her in my lap, my legs on hers, my hands on her hands. And we had to be somewhat isolated to keep distractions at bay. It was still a struggle to get her to look at the words but I would make the first sound and she'd look because she was curious and we'd work though it even though she would say "I want to be done." A couple times per page. For new books, I would read them with her the first time and she'd read them by herself the second time. By books, I mean level 1 Bob books to start out with. Now she can read pretty much anything if she focuses. After she finished reading, she got a couple of MMs. Me too. Yum!
In Dallas we had only 1 car and we'd take Paul to and from work. We'd do flash cards and reading while we waited for him to come down to the car. We also did flash cards with the cousins and made all sorts of games out of that. This is tricky with her. JJ is fast and focused and he can read anything. Paul says "How do you know JJ's been to your house? There's peanut butter all over your Wall Street Journal." And JoJo was also a very early reader. So there was lots of competition. If Hannah managed to focus and win a card she'd celebrate and look around to see who all noticed her victory. By the time she looked back the other 2 cousins had won several cards and she would despair. But this was a good opportunity to train her to be gracious and we worked through it little by little.
Now she wants to read. She uses a combination of sounding things out and memorizing those weird words like head, laugh, neighbor, etc. She loves the story of Esther and she looks for it in her Bible story books. She reads it over and over. She is learning the 10 commandments for Bible class and she can read pretty much any word in the Exodus 20 NIV 10 commandments. She is very excited about all this. She still gets a little lazy sometimes and just wants to guess at words but, if she concentrates, she can read anything that has a regular phonetic pronunciation. We are quite proud of her progress!