I’ve enjoyed reviewing lots of great products this year, but a handful are destined to become favorites that we’ll be enjoying long after the reviews are done. Bonnie Terry’s 5 Minutes to Better Reading Skills is one of those favorites.
Bonnie Terry, who spent over 30 years working as a learning disabilities specialist, offers a variety of study products, including math, spelling, English, and writing. We were sent Five Minutes to Better Reading Skills to review and it couldn’t have been a better fit for our family. Brianna’s early reading struggles are what ultimately led us to give homeschooling a try and now Josh is my resident struggling reader. Five Minutes to Better Reading is to reading what timed fact drills are to math. They are timed drills designed to increase speed and proficiency.
The program is simple to use and literally takes five minutes or less per student. The kit comes with all you need to work through the daily drills, including the student book, the teacher’s book and even a page protector and dry erase marker. The teacher’s book contains 45 drills of various letter-sound combinations with built-in reviews, instructions on how to administer the drills, and forms for tracking progress. The student book contains only the drills.
First the student does a pre-read of the drill, taking not more than three or four minutes, to become familiar with the letter-sound combinations in that drill. Then, you administer a timed, one-minute drill. At the end of the drill, the student charts his progress by number of words read and number of errors made, with the goal being to see the words per minute (wpm) increase and the errors decrease. The number of words is listed at several different intervals down the side of the teacher’s book, making it easy to quickly determine the number of pages read. You can visit Bonnie Terry’s website to see a drill session in action.
There is a suggested guide, in the teacher’s book, showing wpm goals based on grade level. However, it is suggested that, if you have a student who struggles with reading, you administer the first drill to get a baseline and add 15-20 wpm to get the student’s goal rate. I wound up doing that for Brianna because her goal, based on her grade level was 100-115 wpm. That didn’t sound that impossible until, for fun, I had Brianna time me and I had trouble reaching the high school goal, which was 115-150 wpm…and I’m a pretty quick reader. Based on that experience, we went with baseline + 20 for her and Josh.
To do the drills, you cover the teacher’s book page with the page protector (I know you were wondering what in the world the page protector was for) and mark any missed words with the dry erase marker. This allows you to use the teacher’s book for multiple students. I went a step farther and used a little tip that I picked up when I was scrapbooking — I slit the page protector down the side opposite the holes, so that I could turn it upside down and slide it over the page. This puts the sealed end at the top of the pages and keeps it from slipping while we’re doing the drills.
The drills, like all of Bonnie Terry’s products, were designed to be used with multiple ages. Bonnie says,
The materials I have created are used successfully with multiple ages. I purposely designed them that way because I have always taught students from 1st grade through high school at the same time. I wanted to be able to use the same material, maybe in a slightly different way or more of the material, pages etc. as the students got older. That way I could use the same product over a number of years. I would also not go broke having to constantly purchase new materials to help my kids succeed.
With the reading drills, you can simply increase the wpm goals to use the materials with multiple ages. My kids actually enjoy the drills. I’m not sure if it’s the fact that they’re simply trying to reach their own personal goals or that it’s just a quick, simple drill, but they never complain about doing the drills and have even been disappointed when I’ve told them, for one reason or another, that we wouldn’t be doing the drills on a given day.
I’m excited because I’ve noticed an improvement in Josh and Megan’s overall reading skills. I’m not sure if it’s the drills, maturity, or the phonics program that we’re using, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised this last week with how well they’re reading. Because the drills are aimed at improving overall reading proficiency, they can be used with any reading program or approach to reading instruction. The 5 Minutes to Better Reading Skills set retails for $60 and comes with a 60 Day No Questions Asked Money Back Guarantee.
I received this product free for the purpose of reviewing it. I received no other compensation for this review. The opinions expressed in this review are my personal, honest opinions. Actual results may vary.