Doing reviews is a lot of fun, getting to try new things and experimenting with the unfamiliar often brings surprises to me (with the results) or with my kids (how fun or interesting something was), but this time it brought a bit of disappointment. With Bonnie Terry Learning’s Five Minutes to Better Reading Skills, it was disappointment in the fact that I just now found the program!
You see, my son is mildly autistic and reads fairly well but rather stilted, often skipping words or substituting something close to the actual word. We homeschooled for years, doing various therapies to help with his different challenges; some things we tried were just downright torturous. This is NOT the case with the Five Minutes to Better Reading Skills program. In about five minutes, there is a lot happening for my son to help him become a better reader and it is just about as painless a program as I have seen.
I will be honest with my testing methods, however. I have not gotten to test this out as long as I really would have liked. For one, I no longer homeschool this particular child and so finding a regular time to do the exercises was hard. We are involved in a lot of extracurricular activities so it wasn’t that I couldn’t find five minutes, it just seemed that the five minutes were found sporadically, in different time slots and so were often inconsistent. So, we sort of started and stopped until I decided to just take a few minutes before he caught the bus first thing in the morning. Though that is not my best time of day…he was the one having to think fast and he actually enjoyed it!
The drills used in Five Minutes to Better Reading Skills, are based on different sounds: vowel sounds, vowel combos, consonants etc. Using a student book and teacher book, which are basically identical, the child is timed to read as many drill words as possible within one minute. The teacher follows along in their own book, keeping a sheet protector over the word list and making a note on the page if the child misses a word. The teacher’s page is also marked with the number of words in various lines so that it is easy to tally the student’s words per minute.
When the minute is over, simply subtract the number of words mispronounced or skipped from the total word count and that gives the actual word per minute score. The student (or parent depending on the age and needs of the child) then colors in a graph showing how many words they accomplished on a particular drill, and another graph showing the mistakes made.
For my son, who is 16, we took a baseline score and then made a goal that in order to move on to the next drill, he would need to increase his score by 20 words per minute. Day one his score was 58, day two he improved to 67. Day three he accomplished 80 per minute but managed to skip a whole row of words and therefore had too many errors to move on (no more than four allowed). Day four he read 85 words per minute (and yes, this score is after I deducted his errors) but again he skipped a row of words. Finally, day five he shot up to 93 words and zero errors! Yes! He was excited and I was impressed! That is almost double the score with very little effort. The process then began all over again with the next set of drill words.
Each day, after the drill, we would spend the rest of our “five minutes” reading from a book that was at his reading level, with some challenge to it. He has been working on a Nancy Drew mystery. Each day his reading gains confidence and inflection, though he still has some trouble with skipping words at this point.
As I stated earlier, I wish I had discovered this program before now! I love efficiency and author Bonny Terry has done come up with a great, streamlined approach that gets the job done. Helping kids learn better is what Ms. Terry has always done, writing her own curriculum in school until others begged her to publish her methods to help them succeed in their classrooms too. Bonnie Terry Learning carries more than just Five Minutes to Better Reading Skills, she has published books to help with spelling, studying, math, writing and comprehension as well. Check out her website at www.bonnieterrylearning.com to see descriptions of all the great products. Ms. Terry also has helpful articles and short videos that you can view online to give you hope in many areas in which kids struggle, such as dyslexia and ADD. With so many valuable tools at reasonable prices (Five Minutes to Better Reading Skills runs $60) you can tackle learning difficulties with confidence and give your child some worthwhile tools to face their challenges!