Have you decided to teach your child to read using phonics but are unsure of how to go about it? Where can you get the support you need to help you in this important but daunting task?
A phonics reading program can provide all the help which you need. Online reading programs offer fun and engaging activities on your computer to help keep your child motivated while they learn to read. However, you may want to play a more active role in the teaching process, rather than leaving it up to the computer.
You could buy an early reading handbook which describes how to teach your child to read using phonics. This is certainly a cost effective solution, but puts a lot of pressure on you, as the teacher, to keep your child interested and motivated to learn.
Alternatively, you could opt for a more structured program with multisensory teaching materials, to keep things fun for your child, and more detailed guidance on exactly what to teach and how. A multisensory phonics reading program, such as those described below, could be just what you are looking for.
These programs all teach phonics to children in an enjoyable, interactive way, with different activities which appeal to different learning styles. They often use a range of teaching materials including workbooks with exercises for your child to complete, DVDs and levelled reading books. Some packs also include magnetic letter tiles, posters, flashcards, song books and progress charts to motivate your child. When thinking about which phonics reading program is right for you and your child, consider how your child likes to learn and so which type of learning activities might appeal most to your child.
All of these reading programs have lessons which move quickly from sounds to letters to words, so that children are reading simple books as soon as possible. Best results are found with regular instruction rather than sporadic and non-systematic lessons. If you are looking for a phonics reading program which uses the synthetic phonics method of teaching reading (popular in the UK), consider the Jolly Phonics, Phonics International or Read Write Inc programs towards the end of the list.
For additional reading practice, consider using a series of easy reader books to support a phonics reading program. These books gradually introduce and practice phonics sounds as you work through the series.
Hooked on Phonics is a popular phonics reading program which has been around since 1987 and has won many awards. The Hooked on Phonics Learn to Read program uses workbooks, DVDs and a library of books (including some from award-winning authors) to expose your child to systematic phonics instruction, exercises designed to help achieve automaticity and valuable reading practice. Letters and picture flashcards are also provided to support the early lessons.
Learn to Read is an 8-level phonics reading program that takes your child from letter names and sounds all the way through long-vowel sounds, complex vowels, consonant blends, and challenging sound combinations. It is designed for children aged 3 to 8 years old, offering 2 levels each at Pre-K, Kindergarten, 1st Grade and 2nd Grade. You can buy each level or grade individually or buy the complete pack of 8 levels. It is recommended that you follow the program for 15-20 minutes a day, a few days each week.
Each level has a workbook which guides you through each lesson, letting you know when to use the DVD and storybooks. A lesson follows a standard format. First your child learns new words and sounds by watching the DVD and reading the new words in the workbook. Then they practice the new sounds and words in the workbook. Finally your child reads a story in the workbook or in a storybook, and are rewarded with a sticker to stick in the workbook.
Although not strictly a multisensory program, Explode The Code is a well-established and popular workbook-based phonics reading program for Grades K to 4 (ages 5 to 10). As your child works through the eight workbooks, different sounds and spelling patterns are gradually introduced. The same sound is practiced using a variety of different exercises to reinforce learning while maintaining your child's interest. The exercises follow consistent formats with simple directions and concrete examples to help your child work and learn independently. If you like the approach but are looking for something with more interactivity, Explode the Code have also recently launched an online reading program.
There is a fair amount of writing involved with some worksheets requiring the writing and spelling of full words, although others require your child simply to circle the correct answer. This program would therefore also be ideal to use alongside other less writing-intensive programs to provide additional writing practice. The books are in black and white and the pictures can seem a little crude, but children seem to like them.
The workbooks take your child all the way from short vowel sounds in Book 1 to advanced suffixes and irregular endings in Book 8. Extra practice and reinforcement of the new skills are provided in the "1/2 books" series, so for example, Book 1 1/2 provides practice on those skills introduced in Book 1. Read more.
In 2006 a phonics spelling program was launched called All About Spelling. This became a popular program for teaching children how to spell based on phonics rules. The same company which produces this program has now launched a new phonics reading program known as All About Reading. This program contains clear, scripted lesson plans for you to follow in order to teach your child to read. It teaches reading in a multisensory way, with interactive activities for your child to complete in order to reinforce the teaching points of the lessons.
Each lesson follows a similar format. First you review the previous concepts taught. Then you teach and reinforce new concepts using magnetic letter tiles, activity sheets and fluency exercises. The activities, which are included in the Activity Book, are fun and hands-on, with many requiring tape, scissors, a stapler, crayons or markers. At this point your child may also read from one of the three included decodable readers. In the third part of the lesson you read aloud to your child from a book of your choice. Finally, your child can mark the completed lesson on the Progress Chart. All of the steps to follow for each lesson are clearly laid out in the Teacher's Manual.
In order to use this phonics reading program effectively, it is recommended that you buy an Interactive Kit as well as the All About Reading Kit. The Interactive Kit contains the magnetic letter tiles as well as other accessories to help organise the lessons better.
Jolly Phonics is a UK synthetic phonics program which adopts a fun and child-centred approach to teaching literacy. It can be particularly appealing for younger children and is designed for children aged three and over. Synthetic phonics identifies 42 main letter sounds which include the alphabet sounds as well as digraphs such as sh, th, ai and ue. Your child is first taught these sounds in an enjoyable, multisensory way, with actions being associated with each sound to help your child remember them. The sounds are taught in a specific order which enables your child to begin building words as early as possible. Your child also learns how to form and write the letters and how to blend the sounds together to read and write new words. They are taught to listen for the sounds in words, giving them the best start for improving spelling. Tricky words with irregular spellings are learnt separately.
A variety of Jolly Phonics teaching aids are available. For the youngest children, Finger Phonics hardback books are ideal. Each of the seven board books deal with six or seven of the 42 letter sounds. Cut-out letters on each page enable your child to trace their fingers around the letter shapes, in order to learn the correct formation for every letter.
The Jolly Stories book is a complete book for introducing the 42 letter sounds to your child. Each double page spread introduces a new letter sound and its action and includes a story relating to the letter sound. A large letter is embossed on each spread for your child to trace with their finger.
There are also seven Jolly Phonics Activity Books , each covering one group of letter sounds. These 36 page activity books, including two pages of stickers, provide a range of fun activities for children to complete, including colouring, handwriting practice, puzzles, mazes, games, craft activities, word and picture matching and flash cards. There is a story for each of the letter sounds as well as the letter sound action.
You can also get the Jolly Phonics kit which contains a variety of multisensory resources enabling your child to explore and learn in a fun and enjoyable way. The kit includes Jolly Stories, the seven Activity Books, a DVD, a games CD, a book and CD of songs and a poster. All items are contained within a bright canvas case.
Phonics International is a reading, writing and spelling program based on synthetic phonics and developed initially for the UK market, but with additional resources now provided for North America. The program is divided into 12 units, which can be downloaded on-line, and consists of highly practical resources to introduce and practice the 44 synthetic phonic sounds which make up the English language plus all of the spelling alternatives of these sounds. All of these letter/sound correspondences are known as the English Alphabetic Code.
Each unit of this phonics reading program introduces a new set of letter/sound correspondences. Sounds Book Activity Sheets are used to practise these sounds in the three skills of blending, segmenting and handwriting. Additional games and activities help to reinforce these new skills and build vocabulary and word spelling banks. Other resources are also provided to support teaching and learning such as posters, picture cards, texts for reading, word searches and comprehension activities.
The first of the twelve units is free. It includes an overview and guidance booklet, 23 versions of the Alphabetic Code Chart and all resources for the letter/sound correspondences of Unit 1. For access to the rest of the units, parents can buy a three-year single-user licence which allows you to download all of the subsequent resources.
Sing, Spell, Read & Write is a phonics reading program which is popular with homeschoolers, although it is expensive and some of the supporting material is technically outdated, since it includes audio cassettes and a VHS video. Through music, games and activities the program teaches phonics, reading, writing, grammar, spelling and vocabulary. The systematic, well-organized and comprehensive material provides a multisensory approach to learning. Using look, listen, point, sing-along, and echo routines along with gross motor and fine motor activities, the program actively engages the senses and effectively reaches all types of learners.
Each session in this phonics reading program is structured in a similar way and includes songs and games, some reading, a daily spelling test and grammar instruction. There are also periodic assessments that help introduce your child to taking tests. Level One includes two workbooks, an assessment book, a teacher's manual, 17 fun phonetic storybooks, games, an audio cd, five audio cassette tapes, and a VHS video. It is a time consuming curriculum making it more appropriate for homeschoolers rather than parents wishing to offer their child help alongside regular schoolwork.
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