A review of phonics reading curricula learn with emily dot com

A Review of Phonics Reading Curricula

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Phonics reading curricula teaches children to decode words by recognizing letter combinations and blending sounds together. A quality phonics program will also work on building phonemic awareness. CLICK HERE to read an overview of research regarding phonics reading programs. I personally use an unpublished phonics program to teach decoding skills. This phonics reading curricula review is not based on my personal use, but an analysis of possible benefits and limitations of commercial programs that are readily available for home use.

Phonics Reading Curricula Books

The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading


This is an open-and-go type of book. It provides a script for teaching children phonics and decoding words. This book is affordable compared to other reading programs.

Benefits

This book will guide you in teaching your child to read using phonics. The lessons are short. There are no pictures in this book, thus avoiding the picture blocking effect that occurs with some curricula.

Limitations

This book is not an all-in-one reading curriculum. It only focuses on phonetic rules and decoding skills. You will need additional sources to address fluency and comprehension. On Amazon, some reviewers have called this book “dry” and “boring.” This can be avoided by using the book as a guide rather than reading the script word for word. Other reviewers on Amazon have found the practice sentences to be awkward. Lastly, each page includes the teaching script and the text the student is supposed to read. Some reviewers have found the amount of print on each page overwhelming.

Recommendations

This book is an affordable source for knowing 1) what to phonics sounds to teach, and  2) what sequence to teach them. This book may work well for many families. If you are looking for a comprehensive reading curriculum, this is not the book for you.

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons

This book is similar to the Ordinary Parents Guide to Reading in that it teaches phonics skills and is a scripted open-and-go type of book. This book is also an affordable option.

Benefits

This book will guide you in teaching your child to read using phonics. The authors recommend working on lessons 20 minutes per day. Many Amazon reviewers had great success with this book.

Limitations

This book is also not an all-in-one reading curriculum. It only focuses on phonetic rules and decoding skills. Different fonts and symbols are used to represent different sounds rather than typical text. The authors find this beneficial in learning to read. This may actually be a problem for some learners (particularly ones who have difficulty with generalization). Some users have complained that the sequence of letter sounds introduced is confusing. I would agree with the reviewers that short vowel sounds should be taught initially to avoid confusion. You will need additional sources to address fluency and comprehension. Some Amazon reviewers have also found this method to be too boring and the lessons too long for their families. Like the previous book (Ordinary Parents Guide to Reading), this book includes the teaching script and the student reading on the same page. The student font is bolded and larger than the script, but some users still found this there to be too much print on one page.

Recommendations

It is clear from the Amazon reviews that this book has worked for a lot of families. I would not purchase this book myself as I would prefer to avoid the different symbols to represent sounds rather than typical text. In addition, I prefer a different sequence for teaching letter sounds than presented in this text.

Full Phonics Reading Curricula

Hooked on Phonics


This program uses technology to teach phonetic skills. DVD’s, computer games, and readers are included.

Benefits

The highly visual format may hold the attention of young children.

Limitations

The readers and entire program seems to incorporates highly colored images throughout the curriculum. Unfortunately, this may be a problem for some readers due to the picture blocking effect. Reviews I found online were limited. Many people love this program. One reviewer liked the pre-school levels only. She found that her child was able to complete this program but was not still not able to read independently.

Recommendations

This program may be worth trying out one level at a time. I probably would not buy it myself.

Zoophonics

I have used Zoophonics and can base my recommendations on experience with this program. Zoopnonics teaches letter sounds though pictures, songs, and hand motions. The program is multi sensory; however the picture blocking effect may be a challenge for some learners. This program does systematically fade out the visual picture cues. The hand cues are used as prompts. Although I have successfully used this program to teach letter sounds to young learners, I have discontinued using it. The visual cues are just not necessary for teaching phonetic skills and may actually interfere with recall when only print is presented.

Zoophonics can be comprehensive. If you buy all of the components, it is intended to be a complete language arts curriculum.

All About Reading


This program is Orton-Gillingham based and covers phonemic awareness, phonics, word analysis, fluency, and comprehension. Each level of this program costs about $120. If you start at the pre-reading and continue through to level 4, this program will cost around $600.

Benefits

The program has a solid scope and sequence of skills taught. The program is multi sensory and includes readers and all of the materials you need to teach the lessons.

Limitations

Hand motions are used to teach vowel sounds and there may not be explicit instructions on how to fade out this cue. The program requires a lot of flash cards and manipulation of letter cards. Although it comes close, I do not consider this to be completely an open-and-go curriculum due to the required manipulatives. There did not seem to be explicit instructions on research based techniques to teach sounds with flash cards (like a time-delay procedure).

Recommendations

This program seems like a high quality comprehensive option that would work well for many children.

Barton

This program is used for children who have dyslexia. There are 10 levels. Each level costs $250-$300 for one tutor to use with one child. The program does include training videos so parents could implement the program themselves at home.

Benefits

The program has a solid scope and sequence of skills taught. The program is multi sensory and includes all of the materials you need to teach the lessons. Unlimited support is provided to users who have bought legitimate copies through the website.

Limitations

Extensive training is needed to teach through the Barton method. The training is included with the purchase of each level as training DVD(s).

Recommendations

This program seems like a high quality comprehensive option that would work well for many children with dyslexia. The program is research based and a high quality option for parents who cannot afford expensive tutors. Although I have not seen this on their website, I did hear in a Facebook group that the author does not recommend using this program with autistic children. If this situation is applicable to you, I suggest verifying with the company before purchase.

The Good and the Beautiful

The Good and the Beautiful’s language arts curriculum is an all-in-one language arts that includes phonics based reading instruction. The preschool and Kindergarten levels are reasonably priced. Phonics instruction is included through 3rd grade. The e-versions for 1-3 grades can be downloaded for free.

Benefits

The curriculum is open-and-go type, so minimal preparation is required. The program is also affordable, particularly in comparison to other programs. The phonics and reading instructional methodology in this curriculum seem comparable to what a child would experience in a general education public classroom. For religious families, Christian components are integrated into the curriculum in a non-denominational way.

Limitations

The Good and the Beautiful curriculum is a non-denominational Christian curriculum. If you are looking for a secular curriculum, this one is not it. However, if you want to try it out, you could easily skip over the Christian components.

As the phonics and reading components of this program seem comparable to the instructional methodologies a child would receive in public school, if your child is struggling to learn to read, this program may not be the best fit.

Recommendations

For typically developing children who are not struggling with reading, this program would probably be a good fit.

Conclusion on Phonics Reading Curricula

Since I use an unpublished curriculum, my final recommendations are based on what I would buy if I did not have access to what I already use. I feel like the choices are either 1) an affordable book that might work with children who do not have any learning needs, or 2) a pricey comprehensive program that will probably work with most children. If I wanted a comprehensive program, I would go with All About Reading. This is the program I usually refer people to who want a phonics-based reading curriculum. The Good and the Beautiful is an affordable option, if a Christian-based curriculum is desirable. If I was just looking for a simple affordable phonics teaching book, I would go with the Ordinary Parents Guide to Teach Reading and then adapt it to be more hands on. If my child had dyslexia, I would probably go with Barton.

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