Nothin' 2 Prove

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Crew Review: Scaredy Cat Reading System Level 2

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Joyce Herzog is an educational support company dedicated to educating children with many unique and creatively written products in a wide range of subjects. Joyce Herzog herself taught learning disabled students in private and public schools for years and has been working with homeschool students for over 20 years.

Of the many products she offers, we were blessed with reviewing the Scaredy Cat Reading System Level 2. The set we received includes teacher’s manual, student activity book, audio cd teaching the ten lessons, and fun learning pack including letter and word flash cards, double sided photocopied game boards, magnetic letters and pictures,  The Story of the Lettermaster photocopied paper storybook, and a paper reader.  This retails for $75.00. You can download samples on the website to see the format for yourself.

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In developing the Scaredy Cat Reading System, Joyce, a very gifted and talented teacher indeed,  looked at all the reasons why other programs fail to teach children to read, added some fun and music and came up with a logical program that just makes sense.

Finding the right level for your child is easy with the SCRS Placement test.

The Scaredy Cat Reading System is based on hearing a story that makes sense and then learning and applying a principle until practicing reading the corresponding words becomes automatic. This is in contrast to many other reading programs based on memorizing words and rules.

The program is based on mastery defined here as the ability to read thirty words per minute and spell nine out of ten of the words given.  While this sounded a bit rigid and unforgiving to me at first, I learned soon enough that the success of the program is actually based on giving the student as much time as he needs to achieve this success through hands on games, activities, worksheets, repetition, dictation and spelling, flashcards, songs, and many other wonderful ideas suggested for using each specific principle and word list which is outlined in the teacher’s manual.

The beginning of the teacher’s manual includes your typical introduction, entrance and exit exams, and then a well outlined “Teacher’s Training” section explaining the Story of the Lettermaster (which will be the first thing you will go over with your child to set the program into motion.)

The next 23 pages are the how’s, when’s and specific suggested activity outlines. These pages are packed FULL of ideas and I felt were extremely overwhelming upon first impression. While I read through them, I found starting into the lessons helped me make more sense of the activity pages. They are really useful for referring back to once you begin getting into the daily routine of the program.

The next pages outline each of the ten lessons in specific. They go through a 1,2,3 outline on where to begin and what to do next. Each lesson begins with the student listening to the lesson on an audio cd, which is included. The lesson script is also included if you wish to read it to your student yourself and not let him listen, but there are songs and such included on the audio cd, and it is pleasant enough to listen to. The guides are very complete on outlining when to listen, what to use when, and when to include the student pages. The specifics of when to move to the next lesson are included. This all completely depends on how fast your student is progressing, and of course with mine the frustration level and ease of working through it.

Scaredy Cat Reading at Gunn Ranch Academy

Levi has made some pretty great progress this year in his reading skills.  As I thought about where we were I decided that a different program might offer a new and exciting approach to his reading, so Levi and I looked at the placement test and it looked like he should start in Level 2.

Upon receiving the program I pulled several pieces out of the large plastic bag “fun pack”  including the teacher and student manuals.  I spent quite a bit of time cutting apart the flashcards that were printed on cardstock and grouping them into baggies. I also cut apart some magnetic picture and alphabet pieces from two sheets.

As I began to read through teacher’s manual, I read about the methodology of the system, and then began reading through all the activities suggested.

At first I wasn’t real excited to jump into this program because I just felt overwhelmed, like I couldn’t really get a feel on how it all went together. While everything is outlined, it didn’t really seem to “flow” in a step-wise fashion, or give me a confident feeling of what I should actually  “do”.

I really hate to admit it, but my other problem with the program was my first impression of the quality of  materials. Most of the materials are just photocopied paper, and even the pictures photocopied onto the magnetic sheets are somewhat blurry and actually offset so that when I cut them out the pictures were off to one side of some of the magnets. The cards are all the same peachy-orange cardstock which is thin, and I would prefer not to sit for hours cutting them all out for the price of the program. The reader is just photocopied black and white words in rows folded over in a cardstock “cover”. No bells or whistles, no cute horsies or colorful illustrations.

The games are  regular paper sized cardstock with photocopied gameboards on both sides of the paper except one larger foldout double-sized gameboard with pictures on both sides that is a little nicer looking (Levi really likes playing this one).

The pictures that are included in the worksheets and activities aren’t particularly cute  in my opinion, and the sentences and stories, not really overly-appealing, and some don’t even make a lot of sense, but then I do realize sometimes it’s hard to combine words to make creative stories when there aren’t too many that the student knows yet.

But you know, truth is, Levi really doesn’t care about the “look” of the program. That’s just my own taste, and I already know how to read. So off we went into the land of the Scaredy Cat vowels.

Levi and I read through the Story of the Lettermaster, which was a bit hard to decipher from the photocopied folded paper book. He couldn’t really make out the pictures very well, and I feel if the material had been better quality it might have helped. The story was a bit complicated to follow, but we got through it. In the long run, this really had no impact on his learning or taste for the program.

We listened to the first lesson on the audio cd, and then sat down with the materials and began looking through the pieces and parts. Much of the first couple of lessons were review and we moved through pretty quickly, but I found that he really enjoyed the way it was covered. He was actually willing to participate in the activities we were doing and I kept his attention well by changing activities as we progressed. I found some concepts that we hadn’t covered before and the whole program seemed to be taking a different approach than we had been doing, and I felt as if I was just following his lead. He really enjoyed learning how to put the cards in alphabetical order, and picked up alphabetizing by 1st, then 2nd then 3rd letters very quickly. There were many other concepts that he grasped very quickly that seemed to take the focus off of just sounding out words to actually “using” the words. He was having FUN! HUH?

As I have been working through the program and working through the instructions for the coach pages of each lesson, I just keep feeling like I’m not “doing it all” or maybe not “doing it right”.  I think it is because this is not a program that you just follow and “plow through” script to script, but a program that is adapted to the learner. The reason I am discussing this here is that in evaluating this program for my review I really have a hard time explaining my own lack of “loving” this program vs. my son’s complete enthusiastic attitude.

When I asked my son if he likes this program, he exclaims, “YES!! I LOVE this program!”  If I had enough room I’d explain to you just how amazing that truly is, but I’ll just trust that if you really want to know you’ll look back through the many blog posts I’ve made about my boy who would rather make forts all day. 🙂

And when asked WHY do you like this program, he says, “because I actually understand it, it is easy to learn, but hard enough so that I am making progress. It teaches me in a way that I don’t feel like I’m going to blow up. Other programs we’ve used make me so frustrated, but this one makes sense and I feel like I can finally read.”

So there you go. The very most IMPORTANT part of a program is not the look of the materials, the feel of the paper or the cuteness of the pictures.  It’s the hands-on, nitty-gritty, bolts-and-screws of the program. It’s the smile on the face when your child really, really “gets it”.

When my boy is asking if we can “do it again” instead of letting out a big groan when it’s time to sit and learn, I have to give it two thumbs up from me and definitely two thumbs up from my student.

For me, I have to remember to never judge a book by it’s cover.

Be sure to check out my crewmate’s adventures with the Scaredy Cat Reading System:

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Enjoy your Journey!

Chris

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