So we've been doing better with Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, which is mainly the result of my letting go of the need to work meticulously through each and every exercise exactly as per the instructions in the book.  One of the great attractions of this book is that everything is scripted for the parent.  Theoretically, the parent could just read aloud and then watch as the kid magically begins to read.  Of course, nothing is ever as easy as that is it?

The problem for us is that Audrey can't stand the repetition in the script, which has us doing the same sounds three times slowly and then 3 times fast, in 5 or 6 different permutations, when she already got the point the first time.  I can't say I blame her.  So I've had to let go of the script and just move quickly through the stuff that's boringly easy.  Of course the challenge is not to skip anything important in our haste.  And it's a real challenge: so far it's all boringly easy, but some of it is pretty important.  So it's a balancing act.

One thing that works great is to put her in the driver's seat.  So I'll let her play the parent role and I'll play the kid role from the script.  The way this book works is that the parent controls the speed that the kid sounds out words by moving their finger one letter at a time.  So Audrey thinks it's great fun to be in charge of pointing so she can make Dad stretch mmmmmmmaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat out over a full 90 seconds and then say it 30 more times inside of 10 seconds.  One way or another, she's getting the point about the sounds that the letters make and how they fit together.

Another key thing I've learned is to understand when she's telling me that we're going too slowly, and how to acknowledge what she's telling me and re-engage her.  When she starts to horse around with stuff in the immediate vicinity, or starts doing gymnastics in the middle of an exercise, that's the cue.  Earlier, that would really get under my skin and I'd express my exasperation to her.  No wonder she began to rebel against "learning to read" as such.  She saw it as a time to sit down with Dad, have no fun, and then get in trouble.  So my approach now is to stop the lesson and go ahead and horse around with her for a couple minutes, then return to the lesson and skip to the next part.  That seems to work.  For now.

The trickiest of all my moves is that when I've tried and failed to bring her back to the lesson several times, I'll say, "OK well that seems like enough for tonight."  She'll then beg to keep going and promise, promise, promise that she can pay attention.  My reply is just that we'll have the next lesson to look forward to for tomorrow.  This way I leave her wishing for more "word games" as we now call learning to read.  It works so much better than dragging her through a lesson that she just can't focus on.

I'd say the biggest lesson for me so far is to understand her needs by looking at the experience from her point of view.  It's actually pretty easy for me when I let myself do it, since there's a part of me that identifies very easily with 4-year-olds.