Katherine has been struggling with learning to read, so we were excited to get the opportunity to review Memoria Press’ First Start Reading Program! This is a great classical curriculum that teaches phonics and writing skills for young learners. We received a Teacher Book and Workbooks A-D to use for our study. For each lesson in the Teacher Book, there is a small copy of the student workbook page and a detailed description (with word-for-word what to say to the student) of how to teach the lesson. This is literally an open-and-go program. No planning ahead is necessary. It is simple, direct, and you know the basic format of what you will do each day. I’m going to walk you through one lesson so that you can see how it works.
This is a lesson in the Teacher Book, completely planned out for you!
First, K colored the pictures that start with /t/….
Next, I read a list of words to her and asked which words BEGIN with /t/. Then I read another list of words and asked which words END with /t/. On to the next page, K drew a picture of something that starts with /t/ (I helped a little) :), then she worked on correct letter formation. The workbook page shows the correct way to form each letter.
How this program really becomes cool is that after you’ve learned a few letters, the next lesson will combine the letters so the student feels confident about reading simple words. Here is an example of a combo lesson, after she had already learned the letters a, n, f, m, and r. She felt really confident because she was able to read a simple sentence. There were high fives involved.
At the end of each workbook (A-D), there are review lessons and assessments to ensure that your students are ready to move on to the next book. It’s a perfect combination of mastery and spiral learning in my opinion. As you progress further in the program, your students will begin to read longer sentences, short stories, and longer stories in Workbook D. It is a slow progression (but not too slow) and methodical. It’s also good for students who may be reading a little already, and you can skip quickly through the first lessons until you get to where you need to really dig in and focus. You can find samples of the Teacher Book and each of the Workbooks at the Memoria Press site: First Start Reading.
So what did we think of Memoria Press’ First Start Reading?
- It is extremely easy to use. All instructions are well written, consistent, and easy to follow.
- There is a great variety of activities… coloring, drawing, listening, reading, and writing. This keeps students focused.
- It probably is best for ages 4-7 (and struggling readers who are a little older). The format is easy to use, but does not feel “childish” so as to push away older students who are struggling.
- The combination of reading and printing in this program set it apart. I love that instead of having to switch books to change from reading to writing, everything is combined in one. It just makes sense that students learn to write the same letters/words/sentences they are learning to read.
- Overall, it is a great learning-to-read program that is structured in a way that we haven’t seen before! I definitely recommend this program!