My four year-old daughter has shown a real interest in letters, words, and books for well over a year. She’s not reading, but she definitely understands that those symbols on the page form the words that I’m saying when I read to her.
After being repeatedly asked (begged) by her to “do school in the school room like my brothers!”, I relented and purchased Get Ready for the Code, the first in a three-book series that introduces the consonant sounds in the English alphabet.
You know all those “Is your child ready to learn to read?” checklists? She was pretty much ready, but I thought her phonological awareness wasn’t quite as strong as her other skills. From what I’d read about the Explode the Code Series, it seemed like the perfect fit.
We’ve had a wonderful experience so far with the first book – and I’ve already ordered the rest of the series.
For those with children in a similar situation, I wanted to share our experiences – since I definitely think that these books can work for families regardless of whether or not they homeschool. (In fact, our daughter isn’t currently homeschooled; she attends a wonderful local preschool).
A Review of Get Ready for the Code
There are three books in the Explode the Code Primer series, each of which retails for around $7.50 on Amazon.
The first book, Get Ready for the Code, introduces b, f, m, k, r, and t.
Book 2, Get Set for the Code, covers p, j, h, s, n, and d.
And Book 3, Go for the Code, works on c, l, g, w, y, v, z, and q.
There are 12 pages dedicated to every letter, and the instruction follows the same pattern each time.
Children learn from the broadest information to the most specific — starting with identifying similarities and differences between symbols, to tracing the letter with their finger while articulating its sound, to playing verbal games with the letter’s sound, to identifying words that start with that sound, to finally writing that letter and attaching it to appropriate pictures.
Reading is about so much more than phonics, which is why I very much appreciate this multi-faceted approach, and its particular emphasis on how the various sounds occur within words (phonemic awareness). My daughter’s awareness of the letter sounds has increased 10-fold since we started this book.
I also like that the books build in a lot of repetition of the previously learned letters — both their sound and the written formation. I am pleased that my daughter has no gaps thus far in her retention of the letters covered, which is wonderful.
Another plus is that you can work at your own pace. My daughter likes to do several pages every time we sit down, but as soon as I notice her getting fatigued, we stop. There’s no rush to finish the curriculum, you can just do as much or as little as your child can integrate and internalize.
Is Get Ready for the Code Right for My Child?
This book has, so far, been a perfect fit for my daughter — and I definitely warmly recommend it.
However, I do want to mention that I can see how it might not be the right fit for every child. In fact, just from my own experience, I can say with near certainty that if I’d tried to do this workbook with either of my sons, it would have backfired miserably.
My daughter just has more patience for sitting and working on “projects” than her brothers did at this same age. (People tell me this is a girl-boy thing, and it may well be. Although I know plenty of boys with a great love for detail-oriented work).
If your child seems well-suited for this style of learning, I’d definitely encourage you to try out the first book (at just $7.50, you don’t have much to lose).
But if you think there’s no way your child would sit for 5 minutes, let alone 15, take heart: I firmly believe that nurturing our children’s creativity is far more important than teaching them to write a perfect “m”.
Having a particular set of skills or a certain temperament doesn’t mean one child is smarter than the other — or even that she or he will ultimately read better. Again, I say this as a mom to three kids who are all over the map in terms of their strengths and interests.
(If you’re interested in fostering creativity in your children, by the way, I love this TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson on How Schools Kill Creativity. It’s a bit old, but the message is so inspiring to me as a homeschooler and a mom!)
Do you have pre-school aged children? Are you a preschool or kindergarten teacher? Have you found a resource that is especially helpful for teaching early reading skills?
This post was not solicited in any way by the Get Ready for the Code people. They have no idea who I am; I’m just sharing my experience with this curriculum because it has been so positive. This post does contain my affiliate link, and using it is one way you can support Kosher on a Budget. For more information, see my disclosure policy.