A Small Homeschooling Victory

Emily is 5 years old and we’ve been doing some kindergarten. Her birthday falls in November, so she is past the cut-off date and would be in preschool if we sent her to public school. I didn’t want the pressure of kindergarten quite yet but I felt she was ready for some of the work so we’ve been using a kindergarten curriculum, only at a slower pace.

Phonics is a huge part of kindergarten and Emily has been learning letters and their sounds. We introduced blends – as in “B-A… BA” etc a couple months ago. It’s been a challenge for her to grasp the concept of blending letter sounds. I spoke to my mom (with almost 20 years of homeschooling experience) and she encouraged me that sometimes they need a lot of repetition and take longer and that’s okay.

But it seemed to be taking a long time. Granted, we’ve had a lot of interruptions with the holidays. But I was starting to get frustrated and so was Emily. I talked to my mother-in-law last night (she’s also a former homeschooler) and she said the same thing as my mom and also told me about a program that helps them to say the sounds separately and then really fast and eventually they “blend” the letters as intended.

That gave me an idea. Today I decided on a different approach instead of the usual A Beka blend ladders that we are both so tired of. I wrote a B in bright pink marker (Emily’s favorite color) on an index card and then an A.

We said them separately and held them apart. Then faster and a little closer together. And finally after several times, we “smooshed” the cards together and said the blend. Emily actually did it! And she loved it!

We did this with B-A, B-E, B-I, B-O, and B-U very successfully. We still have a lot of work but I am excited about our small victory!

(Yes, that’s a bruise on her forehead. Poor thing fell on the ice a few days ago.)

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About the Author

Erika is a happily married mom with four energetic children. With a love for Jesus, photography, organizing, and encouraging other moms, she stays busy and definitely does not have it all together.


  1. Yay! Even small homeschooling victories are wonderful.

  2. That is awesome! I work as a full-time homeschool teacher for three children (not my own), ages 6, 8 and 10. Sometimes, it is the little stuff that makes you feel the best when they finally get it! The 8 year old I teach HATES writing–he and I have fought over his writing (both his handwriting and his composition) for his 30 minute daily writing period since August. Last Friday, i decided to let him write about WHATEVER he wanted, as long as he wrote in his best handwriting and he edited the spelling and grammar. He has since written almost 10 pages on a story about a super hero dog who has to get rid of a bomb. Silly story, really, but I feel like he’s enjoying writing for the first time! :)

    • That’s great! I’ve found that sometimes letting them do their “own thing” within reason can accomplish a lot more than insisting they follow the book exactly to the letter. My 8 year old doesn’t like creative writing when it comes to doing a story the book suggests (ie an elephant on a playground.) But if I let him choose a topic he likes – such as tornadoes or science experiements or something, he does much better.

  3. I have used Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons with my five year old. It works.. 3 months later my child reads fluently on a second grade level. It’s by sigfried englemann. It’s great and using his direct instruction methods have proven well with my kiddos.

  4. Woohoo!! Way to go :)

  5. I’ve taught Kindergarten for 10 years and I can tell you sometimes things just start to click. A couple other things to try….practice blending words like bird-house. You say bird, then pause, then say house. See if she can put it together and say birdhouse. Then try it with words that have more than one syllable but aren’t compound words. For example- try “pa” and then “per” to see if she can get “paper.” That helps you to see how ready she is for the sound blending.

    Then, I also like word family like the -at family where you add c for cat, f for fat, h for hat etc. This can also be done with magnetic letters that you push together as you make the sounds.

    Whew. This turned into quite the tutorial. Sorry about that! 😉

  6. Theresa Turdici says:

    Hi Erika, I just found your blog. I homeschool my two youngest children. Eric is 9 and Serra is 6. We worked on blending sounds about a month ago using a method I learned from Calvert. I took a bowl and placed a small index card with the letters “b” and “l” on it in the bottom of the bowl without the kids knowing. Then with the kids there I added some cocoa and some sugar along with a small index card with the letter “b” and another small card with “l” on it. Then I told them I was going to blend the cocoa and sugar with a wooden spoon. (You blend so that the card with the “b” “l” comes to the top and pull it out and show it to the kids.) You say something like, “Hey look! The B & L blended together!” Then you make hot chocolate with your mixture. It worked like a charm for my kids and they wanted to blend letters every day.

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