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The One Book That Saved Our Reading Curriculum

Homeschooling comes with many perks. For me, it’s an adventure! Nearly every day I get to have one-on-one time with my kids, usually in a deep discussion or Q&A at school time. It’s REWARDING!

But- there are days of frustration and anxiety, too.

It turns out, that my skill set and interests are exactly opposite of my oldest son.  Reading, writing and vocabulary were easy for me, while my five-year-old son is gifted in the areas of math and science.

Imagine my horror when my VERY bright young boy REFUSED TO READ.

Suddenly, he was confused and frustrated.

Our home school turned upside-down. It was a fight everyday. He hated school. He hated me, and he had ZERO interest in reading or language or writing, (despite his amazing vocabulary.) And now our reading curriculum was taking us down a very dark path!

To Be Honest:

There was no strategy at all at all when I put together my home school plan. In fact, I never even considered that learning to read might be a problem for my kids! 

I had really good intentions- I bought the “My Baby Can Read” DVDs, flashcards and books and started working with my INFANT. As soon as he could sit up, we would spend hours in the floor with flashcards and picture books.

As we started  more structured learning later, I simply collected books and videos based on MY kindergarten experience learning reading.

My kid was NOT impressed.

I tried a popular phonics program, (I’m sure you know the one.) We tried a syllable approach. Mom saw an ad for another “revolutionary” reading program on Facebook and I bought that- NOTHING WORKED.

My dreams of homeschooling were being shattered. After all, I don’t have a teaching degree. Who am I to attempt a reading curriculum?!


 Of course, I reached out to family for help- they 100% supported my home school ambitions from day one, and my Mom was an English major in college- certainly we could figure it out!

But it wasn’t that easy. The advice was too simple for my big goals-

“Go back to the OLD ways of teaching!”

It dawned on me that I was trying WAY TOO HARD.

Sometimes it takes an outside perspective to allow me to see the flaws- this was the case with teaching, too. We paused our reading work for a few weeks and focused on math and science- subjects where my son excelled and his confidence grew.

The two of us mended our mother/son/teacher/student relationship over those few weeks, and now, fearfully, I had to try reading with him again.

Seeking Simplicity:

I did what any concerned parent would do when I finally mustered the courage to tackle the issue- I googled it 😉

Though I’m not exactly clear on the specific search terms I used, or what genius person directed me to The Book, But there it was on Amazon-

Yet another tool for purchase to get our reading back on track. And I was skeptical.

Already, I had spent a bunch of money I hadn’t planned to spend trying to spark an interest for reading in my son. But for $13, (far less than every other curriculum investment) I reluctantly ordered it.

The Ordinary Parents Guide To Teaching Reading by Jessie Wise and Sara Bluffington.



Thumbing through it the day it arrived- it was structured completely differently than any other resource I had used. This book didn’t seem to be “special”, just DIFFERENT. The first chapters in the book are all about VOWELS.

Getting Started:

Teaching the vowel sounds first was very different from the way I had been teaching reading- we learned the 26 letter sounds in order of the alphabet.

My son already knew all the letter sounds, he just couldn’t (or wouldn’t) sound out words.

We started on page 1 the next day. I filled out index cards according to the instructions in the book, and I tried my best to feign excitement for my kid- hoping it would be contagious!

The transformation that occurred in the following weeks was nothing short of MIRACULOUS! My son and I were reciting “The Vowel Poem” together in unison, and he was ENJOYING IT!

He memorized the whole poem in a very short time, and he began to CORRECTLY sound-out words the same week we received the book!

Results, Results, RESULTS!

Then, he started reading street signs from the car. Then, remote control buttons. Then, food labels… We were finally on our way!

For any parent struggling to teach reading, whether you home school, or you’re just trying to prepare your kids for public school, or your child needs extra help with reading- THIS IS THE BOOK.

For every other program that failed us- it turns out that the key to teaching reading or ANYTHING ELSE, is sometimes to try to find the old fashioned ways to teach!

After All The Frustration & Fear:

Hopefully these struggles as a mom and a teacher will be few. The reading issue took a huge toll on my relationship with my oldest, but I am truly SO THANKFUL to have a family that supports my home school journey, and for the simple advice that led us to find this book!

I really wanted to do an article on a trendy, immersive, colorful reading program as we navigated  modern home school products and methods. Those didn’t work for us. It was The Ordinary Parent’s Guide that turned everything around!

My most sincere hope is that this will help you in your courageous effort to teach reading to your littles!

Update- my son is currently reading at a grade 1 level. He’s 5. I will surely be using this book when my youngest begins his reading journey also!

Please feel free to leave a question or comment below! If you give this book a try- I want to know ALL about it- every child has their own learning style!

This is what worked for us, but I would love your feedback on this, and other resources that helped YOU! And, don’t forget to subscribe– our home school journey is just beginning, and I will be sharing all of my most favorite tips and resources with you as we go in the newsletter! 

Sincerely Yours, Breezy

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