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We’ve been digging into the Complete Happy Cheetah Reading System for 30 days now and it’s been an overall positive experience. Here’s what we have learned so far!
I was attracted to the Happy Cheetah Reading system as it’s advertised as the reading curriculum to try when other curriculums haven’t worked. And indeed, we’ve tried multiple other programs without much success. Because every child is different, some just naturally struggle with teaching methods and the pace of learning more than others.
The Happy Cheetah Reading System is a box packed with materials that start with a Kindergarten level and move up through a mid-third-grade level. The Happy Cheetah system doesn’t come in any of the default curriculum kits, but you can customize a kit to include it instead of the pre-selected materials. I chose to remove All About Reading and replace it with Happy Cheetah instead for our 2nd Grade Kit.
A special thanks to Timberdoodle Company for sponsoring this homeschool series of posts by graciously sending us this complimentary Happy Cheetah Reading System to see what we think. All opinions are our own!
The Happy Cheetah Reading System features five different workbooks, four levels of beginning readers, teaching aids, and more that take a child from kindergarten reading level through mid-third grade.
Watch the Happy Cheetah Unboxing here:
Our First 30 Days
We began our Happy Cheetah journey at the very beginning, with the Getting Ready Workbook: Handwriting & Early Reading Prep. It’s packed with 180 pages of foundational practice to help students gain the skills they need to start reading. The first half of the workbook focuses on proper letter formation and copywork, while the last half introduces the concept that letters have sounds and build words. The last few pages of the book also has practice pages for writing numbers 0-9.
Since my daughter is a little older and has tried other programs before, some of the concepts in this book were review for her, and we were able to move quickly. Happy Cheetah recommends setting a timer for 20 minutes a day and doing as much as your student is able to in that time frame. We got through around 4 pages of handwriting each day in 20 minutes.
The Happy Cheetah system includes a whiteboard and a specific framework for learning each letter. First, you draw the letter in the air, then they draw the letter in the air. After that, they use the whiteboard to write the letter in the open space, then on one line, then on two lines. Then they move to the workbook for copywork and an activity.
Handwriting has always been a struggle for us, so I found this reinforcement to be very beneficial and we got a chance to really work on the proper strokes and sizing. They go through all the uppercase letters in alphabetical order, followed by the lowercase letters organized by stroke.
The fun activity after copywork varied from drawing to matching or little mazes and she was always excited to do it. Some days we even packed up our workbook and took it to the park for some outdoor learning, and it worked well.
After the handwriting practice comes a sneaky way to help kids build reading skills through context. This is probably my favorite thing about the Happy Cheetah program–the work builds slowly and steadily in ways that kids don’t realize. Copywork remains an integral part of the program as it builds muscle memory and practices new skills.
Each page went through a letter of the alphabet and we focused on the sound it made. I would read the sentence aloud, pointing to the first letter of each word. Then she would point to the first letter of each word and read the sentence back to me. Then she would copy and write the sentence. This type of repetition in context helps the child to begin to memorize and identify words by sight and not just by sounding out.
Once you hit section four, you only do one page per day so as to cement one concept at a time. It’s also quite a bit of writing, which can be tiring for little hands. You read a word from a list on the opposite page and help your student break down the sounds, writing each individual letter in a box. Then they read the word back to you and move on to the next one.
On the next page are letter copywork and an activity to reinforce their learning. In 30 days we made it through around 100 pages of the workbook, leaving about 80 pages left to finish. I had originally hoped to complete the entire prep workbook in 30 days but I underestimated that the last section would be more difficult for her and would require more time. However, we should still finish this book before our 2nd grade year starts next month and we will jump right into Cub Starting: Level One Workbook.
Overall, Happy Cheetah has been fantastic for us. Sure, my daughter complains about doing it sometimes but once she starts the work, there has been very little frustration or complaining. In other programs there were tears and meltdowns, so I’m pleased that this has been positive so far. I’m looking forward to going through the next levels and continuing with the program!
You can find the Happy Cheetah Reading System here.
More Articles About Homeschooling:
- Timberdoodle 2nd Grade Custom Curriculum Kit Overview (2023-2024)
- Planning Your Homeschool Year When Your Child Doesn’t Fit the Academic Mold