Thursday, October 8, 2009

Review: Five Minutes to Better Reading Skills

I had never heard of Bonnie Terry Learning prior to joining the TOS Review Crew, so seeing the name on the vendor list didn't do anything for me.  One day early on though, I went through and checked out the websites of all the vendors I didn't already know about.  When I got to the website for Bonnie Terry, I knew this was something I just had to have.  And when I read details about a few of the products, I started praying about whether or not this was what William needed.  And praying that the right product would show up on my doorstep.

So, I was thrilled to see my name on the list for Bonnie Terry, and ecstatic when Five Minutes to Better Reading Skills showed up in my mailbox.

This is something that any parent can do, not just a homeschooling family.  When she says "five minutes" that is exactly what she means.  The premise is very, very simple.  The program consists of two books (teacher and student), which mostly consist of word lists.  The teacher book has a few pages of introductory material so you know how to use it, and some forms you can copy to track your student's progress.

The idea is to spend 3-4 minutes practicing the current word list, and then to time the child to see how many words they can read in one minute.  Then they chart their words per minute (wpm) and their errors per minute.  Bonnie gives guidance as to setting a goal wpm for each page, and you keep going, doing five minutes at a time, at least a couple days a week, until they make their wpm goal with only a couple errors.  Then they get to move to the next drill page.  The other suggestion is that you have the child read aloud after doing the Five Minutes drills.

All four of my boys loved this.  Connor (12) probably doesn't really need it, and I am not having him do it daily.  I think he will see some benefit when we get further into the book.  Richard (5) gets a little stressed about the one minute timing, so I keep that part very low key.  If I just had these two, the program probably wouldn't be worth the money for my family.

William (10) and Thomas (8) are the ones who are benefitting though.  And yes, I saw improvements in William's regular reading within days.  He was doing a drill sheet of short a vowel sound words (the last row is 'pad, fat, rap, jam, lag, pan, dad') and yet I heard his reading of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe improve.  I can't explain it.  Except that seeing his little graph go up, and having the visible progress... I don't know.  He gained confidence from something.  He is nowhere near "grade level" for his wpm, but we're working through the drills, shooting for something in the 3rd-4th grade range.  We'll repeat the drills after we finish the book, and hopefully will be more in the 5th grade range then (though he'll probably be a 6th grader).  I plan to keep going through it with him.  Given his dyslexia, I may not push him to ever reach "high school" level, but if he could get to the 7th-8th grade level anyway...

Thomas was similar.  He's been fighting me about reading aloud.  Since the third day of Five Minutes, he brings his reader to me and asks if he can read to me now.  And he usually reads more than assigned.  I knew he was capable of reading better than he thought.  He's working at the bottom end of "grade level" for words per minute.  He'll be repeating the drills after we complete the book too.

A few more details about the program.  There are 45 drill sheets in total.  A few samples (I already gave words from drill 1), each is the last row of words on the sheet:

Drill 15: sort, nor, fork, lord, short, form
Drill 30: earth, please, thread, bread, speak
Drill 45: percentage, dictate, projector, carefully

So you can see that it does get to a fairly high level, not just the simple stuff.

For Richard, we probably won't go through the whole program this year.  The first seven drills are your typical short vowel level, so we may just work through those, then start over and add the next section (drills 8-12 do some vowel combinations and digraphs).  We'll see how his reading is going, but since he is only in kindergarten, we may do a lot of starting over and adding another section.  I think this is going to be absolutely fabulous for him.

Five Minutes to Better Reading is available as a set on the website for $60, or you can get it as part of a Reading Pack that looks fabulous.  She also has materials for math and writing... I want it all!

And you can check out what my fellow crewmates have to say about various Bonnie Terry products at:

Any questions? I'd love to know what you would want to know in deciding whether or not this is something you want to purchase.

Disclaimer:  As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I did receive Five Minutes to Better Reading Skills for free from Bonnie Terry Learning.  The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.  It does guarantee a review. A fair review. But I am not going to praise something unless I think it deserves the praise.  If I don't like it, you'll hear that.  And hopefully with enough detail as to why so you can decide for yourself if what I hate about it makes it perfect for your family.  For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.

No comments: