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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 I personally use an unpublished phonics program to teach decoding skills.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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
The highly visual format may hold the attention of young children.
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.
This program may be worth trying out one level at a time. I probably would not buy it myself.
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.
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.
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).
This program seems like a high quality comprehensive option that would work well for many children.
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.
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.
Extensive training is needed to teach through the Barton method. The training is included with the purchase of each level as training DVD(s).
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.
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. 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.
Prior to completing this review, I really did not realize how limited the choices were for quality comprehensive phonics reading curricula. Do you feel there is a need for more affordable phonics reading curricula?