The Program Guide that parents receive at class contains general guidance for home practice as well as specific week-by-week directions. The most important thing for parents to keep in mind about home practice is that it should be enjoyable for them and for their son or daughter. Parents should feel free to slow down, have their child take breaks, or change the order of activities.
Each week’s home practice is broken up into four sessions spread out over four days. Children and their parents engage in several activities explained below.
Parents begin each home practice session by reading a book to their child and talking about it together. They spend 15 or 20 minutes with the book, or as long as it takes to finish the book in one sitting. This is at the parent’s discretion, though. If the book is especially long, or if the child is tired or restless, they can shorten the reading time.
Children may want to hear a favorite book read again and again. This is something parents should feel free to do; it is not necessary, but it can be a lot of fun.
After finishing reading a book together, a parent can make the book available to the child and encourage him or her to spend some independent time looking at the book. Of course, if a child is uninterested in this right now, there’s no need to force it. If parents simply keep reading aloud to their child, the child will begin to reach for books on his own when he is ready.
Each week, the teacher gives an assignment from the Pole and Vole Stories phonics program to complete during two of the home practice sessions. Children learn, practice, and review letters and their corresponding sounds by using the Pole and Vole Stories workbook and the accompanying audio CDs.
All children need time and repetition to truly solidify their knowledge of letters and letter sounds. Phonemic-awareness and letter-recognition games are a great way to practice. Parents can try out some of the games from class and see which ones their child likes best. Directions for the games are also included in the Program Guide.
During some weeks, after thinking about the characters and events of the story read in class, children will make up their own story. They are the author and illustrator, and their parents do the writing. Story dictation is an enjoyable way for children to be imaginative and put themselves inside the story read in class.