Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Phonics Programs

I was trying to figure out what I was going to do for my next review. I have many things to choose from, but I just couldn’t seem to make a decision. Then Happy Mommy asked me about phonics and…bing! An idea was born.

Today I’m going to review different phonics programs. First we’ll start with Saxon Phonics. I used Saxon Phonics with my 2nd son. This was the first child I taught to read as my oldest was taught by someone else in a small private/homeschool. I started homeschooling him alone in 2nd grade and he was reading well already. But I digress.

Bob and I played around with letters from the time he was 4. We did flash cards, we did a few workbook type things, we played games we watched videos; I even bribed him with candy. I tried Teach Your Child To Read in 100 EZ Lessons as our first ‘official’ phonics program. I honestly don’t remember much about it because Bob hated it so much he would cry when I would bring it out. Needless to say it did not last long, so I don’t really have much to say about it.

By the time Bob was 6 I knew something was wrong. I had him tested and sure enough, he was dyslexic. While we were waiting to see if he was eligible for their remediation program, the wonderful people at the Scottish Rite Hospital for Children suggested using Saxon Phonics. I went right out and got it.

We used it for a summer. It is both teacher and prep intensive. I did not like it and Bob did not like it but we did it anyway. The boy HAD to learn to read. To say it was monotonous would be an understatement, but we kept at it because that is what those at SR said to do.

I got the call that he was accepted into the Dyslexia Remediation Program at the Scottish Rite Hospital for Children. I was elated. The first thing I did was pack up Saxon Phonics and sell it on ebay.

With Eve, I did not use any phonics program, other than the Explode the Code because she learned to read watching Sesame Street (I am NOT kidding)

With Ann, I tried Reading Made Easy by Valerie Bendt. This is a program I could get behind! It was gentle, it was easy and best of all, no one cried when they saw it!

It requires a little set up. I bought a photo box and a small white board, some envelopes, index cards, regular markers and white board markers. I kept everything I needed except the white board in the photo box. When it was time to get to work, I grabbed the book, the photo box and the white board and we were ready to go. At the beginning of the book, Valerie tells you what you need and how to set it up to get yourself ready to start the program.

It took about 20 min a day direct work with Ann and maybe 5 min prep time. It was just so easy and gentle.

After using Saxon, 100 EZ Lessons, Explode the Code, and Reading Made Easy, I would recommend Reading Made Easy, hands down. After finishing Reading Made Easy, then start the Explode the Code workbooks. I am not usually a workbook fan, but these are cute little gems.

When it is all boiled down, I think most phonics programs make things way more difficult than they need to be; unless you’re child is dyslexic, then all I can say is no phonics program is going to work; go see the professionals!

If you have any questions or comments on my recommendations, please leave them in the comments and I’ll be happy to answer you if I can.

See ya in the comments!


Michaela said...

Are you familiar with ABeka; and if so, what are your thoughts on that?

Tricia said...

I don't have a lot of experience with Abeka.

I tend to shy away from typical textbook style curriculum. I am not sure why except that I think there is a lot of waisted time and busy work inherent in the textbook system.

That being said, I do have a friend who uses Abeka.

I believe they 'do school' and check that off as 'done' so they can move on then, to other fun family things.

While my style tends to be a life style of learning where we're never really 'done'.

Also for me my kids are on different grade levels for different subjects. Some they are advanced and others they are moving slower. I don't like the inflexibility of the textbook system in dealing with the individual child's learning timetable.

So there is my .02 on Abeka specifically and the textbook approach generally. And .02 is about all it's worth as I have not used the textbook approach with my family. (though my oldest was taught this way in his K and 1st grades in the little homeschool away from he attended)