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FSR for a 4 year old boy?

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    FSR for a 4 year old boy?

    My son is a young 4. He turned 4 in October and we started in September with going verrrrry slowly in MP Junior K. He loves “school” and does Junior K except he does Kate Snow’s Kindergarten Math with Confidence instead of the numbers books that came with JK. We are currently on “G” in the alphabet book but he knows most of his letters and sounds with the exceptions of confusing lowercase “b” and “d” and occasionally mixing up the lowercase “j” and “i”. I’ve also been doing some phonemic awareness activities with him like rhyming games and practicing blending without reading by putting out pictures and then “sounding out” one of the pictures and asking him which one I’m saying. (If that makes sense). All of that to say his phonemic awareness is quite good. He’s been pretending to read and is getting frustrated that he can’t so I showed him how to put the letter sounds together for CVC words. Now he’s trying to apply this rule to words in books we read. He tried to read “goat” with all short vowels. 🤦🏼‍♀️Nearly every day he asks me when we can start “my reading lessons”. Anyway, his fine motor skills are improving but leave a lot to be desired. I know First Start Reading is designed to teach phonics with the writing component. I called the MP office and the primary expert wasn’t in and was recommended to try Classical Phonics. Wouldn’t he be missing a key component without the writing of FSR? I was thinking about trying Classical Phonics with Explode the Code because that would incorporate writing but not as much as FSR. If I *just* did Classical Phonics, would I need to go back and do FSR later? My other option that I’m considering is just to keep putting him off until at least next semester in order to give his fine motor and maturity to develop a little more. What would you do? I can’t keep putting him off until he’s “supposed” to start kindergarten (August 2023! 😳) This child just loves “school” too much for that.

    Hmm. I'm no expert, but just-turned-four seems very early to jump into First Start Reading. As you noticed, there is a lot of writing in the program. It also moves pretty quickly, adding new sounds every lesson, and requiring blending right away. In my experience, blending can be a skill that really takes a long time to become automatic. However! I did have one child who taught herself to read somewhere between 4 and 5 by looking over her older brother's shoulder as he was having explicit reading instruction. So I know that some kids are just really quick to make those connections. She later completed everything in the MP core curriculum, as scheduled for her age, so kindergarten (and FSR) served as review and an opportunity to solidify all the phonemes through written work. I don't think it was boring for her, and I was glad she had a firm foundation in phonics before moving ahead. She did plenty of reading above grade level alongside her scheduled kindergarten work and continues to be a precocious reader.

    So if you think your son is really ready to read, my suggestion would be either FSR without the writing, or Classical Phonics. When consonants and short vowel sounds are learned, and he can begin to blend, use Primary Phonics readers for reading lessons. For building writing skills, I love Rod and Staff pre-k books. It's a series of 12 books, A-L. All my kids have used them around age 4, though they usually only get through the first 6 before kindergarten. The books include a lot of tracing, coloring, cut and paste, counting, and number and letter recognition activities. And I would definitely recommend going back through FSR, with all the writing included, next year when your son is 5.

    Fall 2022:
    DS 14 9th
    DD 12 7th
    DS 10 5th
    DD 7 2nd
    DS 5 K
    DS 2


      I would stay the course with JK.
      2022-23: Year 12 of homeschooling with MP

      DD1 - 27 - college grad, bakery owner
      DD2 - 16 - 11th grade - HLS Cottage School - online classes, Dual Credit - equestrian &theatre
      DS3 - 14 -7A Cottage School - soccer/tennis/aviation -dyslexia &dysgraphia
      DS4 -14 - 7A Cottage School -soccer/tennis/aviation -auditory processing disorder
      DD5 - 10- Mash up of SC levels and standard MP, Cottage School - inattentive ADHD - equestrian &tumbling
      DS6 - 8 - MP 1/SC -- 2E cutie with dyslexia, dysgraphia &ADHD


        I wouldn’t start FSR with a young 4yo boy. My youngest (also a boy) taught himself to read at 3, but there would have been no way to do FSR as written at that age because of fine motor skills. It would have been very frustrating for everyone. I have used Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading with my daughter (no writing, cheap, efficient, dull) but my older two boys HATED it. With my youngest I used All About Reading 1-4. I wish it had been around and complete with my older kids. It provides tons of practice that we didn’t need, but it was fun and made me feel that we weren’t missing something big and he wasn’t teaching himself something he would have to unlearn. He loved the activities and the sticker charts and the Ziggy games. I loved it so much that I bought level 4 for my third child. MP phonics has evolved over the years for the better and that guy really missed a lot of explicit teaching in the early grades and it really helped him. My youngest completed all four levels at his own pace and moved into storytime treasures about halfway through K. It was easy after AAR 4, but were great stories that I didn’t want him to miss. We picked up FSR A in K for handwriting. Needless to say we have been off the plans forever and did a lot of our own stuff…resources I had on the shelf from my older kids, extra lit guides not in the schedule, that sort of thing with the goal of jumping in at 3A which is where we are now.

        I understand the MP philosophy for combining reading and handwriting and agree with it in many cases, but I had a really hard time essentially refusing to teach a kid who is ready and eager to read just because he isn’t ready for a ton of writing. Not everyone hits those readiness levels simultaneously. We just kept it short and fun and it was a great experience for everyone.

        Good luck on your decisions.

        Plans for 2022-2023
        16th year homeschooling, 13th year with Memoria Press
        DD College Sophomore
        DS 11th grade - Lukeion Latin and Greek, Vita Beata, MPOA Divine Comedy
        DS 9th grade - Vita Beata Literature/Classical Studies
        DS 4th grade - 4A with Right Start F, Second Form Latin, AAS 5


          I apologize for not being available when you called the office recently but I'm glad you found your way to our forum of homeschool families!

          FSR will be challenging for a 4 year old. As you have gleaned from the above posts, the program is designed to combine learning the letter names, sounds, blending, reading, and yes, writing all at the same time. However, this program is not for just any 5 year old, the student must be reading ready. On the kindergarten page of the MP website there is a link to an assessment you can give to help gauge reading readiness. However, this doesn't help someone who has a 3 1/2 or 4 year old that is truly ready to read but not really ready to write their letters with the attention to detail we expect in the program. This means you need a completely oral path for your student. In this case we suggest you use Classical Phonics and work your way through that book. This is really a book of word list grouped by phonograms. You will likely need additional practice blending and reading eventually, so the use of the American Language Series books scheduled in the kindergarten grade level, that are also used alongside the FSR program, are suggested. Simply use the skills of blending gained through the Classical Phonics program and once enough sounds are learned, and the student is blending well, get extra practice blending and reading with the American Language Series books.

          Now that I have explained how and when you can use Classical Phonics and eventually the American Language Series to teach reading without the writing component of FSR, I will mention that this is not the recommended way for the majority. It is only for those ready to begin reading instruction very early before the student could be expected to write well, because the writing component of FSR is in every lesson and key to visual memory.

          You can choose to go ahead and begin with the books I've listed above in an oral only program, another alternative is to go ahead and begin FSR, as written, including the writing, but move more slowly taking two weeks for the lessons scheduled in one week. You will know which suggestion is best for you and your child. Please keep us posted on progress or if you have further questions.

          Last edited by Michelle T; 11-07-2021, 09:27 PM.


            I would try Classical Phonics, one page at a time, with an eager 4-yr-old! Practicing all the pages of letters at the front with their sounds, over and over again, and working toward blending the words on the bottom of the page will probably be fun for him. It looks much more “grown up” than a preschool book which may excite an eager young learner. No need to push mastery yet, but repeatedly practicing the early pages can be fun. Pulling out the American Language Series readers (“Fun in the Sun”) comes only after he has some proficiency sounding out words. Those readers are great though, because most other learning to read books rely on sight words instead of true phonics.
            Mom of 5 in Tennessee

            3rd or 5th year homeschooling - slowly transitioning to more MP
            5th grade girl
            3rd grade boy
            K girl
            Littles running wild


              Ladies, thank you all so, so much for your feedback. It took a while for my post to get approved (I guess because it was my first one) and so I forgot about it until tonight! 😅 I did a LOT of thinking about this and took a look at a friend’s copies of FSR and Classical Phonics and decided to just go with All About Reading Level 1 🙈. I hope that’s okay to admit on here! I know it’s not MP but it seemed very developmentally appropriate for him. We are still enjoying the read alouds, recitation, nursery rhymes, and even a little
              of the Alphabet Book for handwriting practice. I am definitely going to stay on course as much as I can with MP. Hopefully, we’ll jump into the full core by 1st or 2nd grade. He is beyond excited that he’s going to learn to read. 🙂