Thursday, May 23, 2013

TOS Review: Joyce Herzog's Scaredy Cat Reading System Express

I have always been a voracious reader. To discover that my only child was possibly dyslexic was overwhelming. What do I do now? I am trained teacher. I have taught countless children how to read. Trust me. The typical formula for reading wasn’t going to work this time around…it wasn’t working. Reading comes as an inherent ability  for some kids. Josiah wasn’t going to be one of those kids. In my research and studies, I discovered that this was going to be a lifelong process for Josiah. That what I needed to do was to equip him with all the tools necessary to carry him through this process. I needed to teach him how to learn.

I am always excited to add another tool to our learning toolbox and I think we’ve found a good one. Recently, I got to review Joyce Herzog’s Scaredy Cat Reading System Express. What is great about this particular product is that it has been written for multiple ages and giftings. If your child is a little bookworm (like I was when I was little) or has had a harder time finding his or her reading stride (like my Josiah) The Scaredy Cat Reading System Express is something you need to check out.

How It Works

Joyce Herzog is an educator with many years of experience, both in public education as well as with homeschoolers. She has firsthand experience in teaching kiddos with learning disabilities. I could tell we were in good hands.

The Scaredy Cat Reading System is a mastery based reading system based on logic. It simplifies all those confusing rules of phonics and teaches the student to apply those rules. The Scaredy Cat Reading System Express consists of teacher material with all manner of activities and suggestions, game boards, a CD of Scaredy Cat Reading System Rules Songs, The Story of LetterMaster Mini and Using LetterMaster as a Teaching Tool.  

The Teacher Training book contains the word and sentence lists from the previous levels (1,2 & 3) of the Scaredy Cat Reading System. It covers all the Scaredy cat concepts in 15 rules. You are given a variety of games and activities to choose from to introduce and review those rules. The student is not to proceed until a rule is mastered.

From Mrs. Herzog;
“ At each step, master is considered to be the ability to read thirty words per minute and spell nine out of ten randomly chosen words.”

The student is introduced to each rule through story and song. The student works with the word and sentence lists using a variety of games and activities. Then you evaluate and decide if your student can move on. This program is not scripted, but there is an easy suggested Daily Plan.

 How We Used It

I first was directed to a placement test. From this test, I found that Josiah was indeed ready for the Scaredy Cat Reading System Express. This meant that he has a good grasp on reading and spelling, but just needs to fill in a few gaps. This system will work with any kind of reader. I am a firm believer in hands on learning and being able to apply any kind of information into real life. I felt that The SCRS did that most effectively. As far  I can see there isn't an age or grade recommendation. This is why it's important for your child to take the placement test. I personally appreciate this. I would rather a learning tool be unique to the student rather than a set age or grade.

Please ignore my messy "spice basket." You will be pleased to know it is nice and tidy at this very moment. However, I can't promise what it will look like after that.

We started by making flash cards for Rule One – Scared Vowels.
“When a single vowel is surrounded by consonants, or when it comes first in a word (or a syllable). It is scared and will not say its name, but makes its scared sound instead…..”
Now Josiah has known about short vowels for years, but when he heard it in this context he said, “Oh!” He was also given a little memory jogger for this rule (Fit as a Fox in a Red Cup). Perfect! Within Rule One he was given “supplements” that affect just a few words. For example, “Q and U stand together to make the ‘kw’ sound because K and W were fighting on the day when the letter sounds were given out.”  

Josiah sees the world in stories. The idea that the K and the W couldn’t get along was fantastic to him. Over the past few years, Josiah’s reading has improved significantly. His spelling is a different matter. He spells phonetically. The Scaredy Cat rules are going to be a tremendous help.

Our favorite parts of the program are the activities. Too many words on a page overwhelm Josiah. Often he will get a glazed look in his eyes, start making inferences to medieval torture, waterboarding and just guess (anybody else have a reader like that?). One of the activities suggested is for the teacher to read a sentence from one of the sentence lists. The student then finds the sentence on the page. Josiah and I took turns. He would read a sentence and I would find it. I would then read a sentence and He would find it. He was ruthless! He wasn’t going to make it easy on mom! Just that activity alone proved to both of us that he is capable of far more than he gives himself credit for.

Another activity he liked was the dictionary activities. He was able to get a lot of use out of his dictionary and thesaurus. I think he filled out a few cards with words that weren't on the list..they jut looked interesting to him.

I encourage parents of all kinds of readers to check this program out, but especially if you are parenting a brilliant and busy guy who happens to be a “unique” learner. You can download a sample here. The whole program is available for $30. 

You can read more reviews on this product and other Joyce Herzog products.

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