“Look Mama!” Rose called out in delighted wonder shortly after having learned the alphabet, “My ABCs are everywhere!”
There are few things as delightful as opening up the world of the written word to your child and decoding the infinite number of messages that their ABCs can make. Of all the gifts we can give our children, a firm foundation and love for reading is one of the most important. As the Reformers realized, a population that cannot read would be unable to read the Scriptures for themselves. An illiterate population could easily be swayed by erroneous religious, political, or moral teaching.
I’ve been looking forward to teaching my children to read since before they were born. That said, our first foray into phonics was fraught with many tears. Maybe Rose was just too young or maybe I was pushing her too hard, but it seemed the program we started with (the highly acclaimed Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons) simply wasn’t working for us. We were both highly frustrated and ended up in tears multiple times. That’s hardly how I wanted to introduce something as delightful as reading!
Though I wanted to be diligent and not search endlessly for the perfect program, I finally realized that pushing a program that wasn’t working was simply being stubborn.
There are dozens of excellent phonics programs available [I’ve heard numerous success stories with Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons], but if you’re just getting started with phonics or are on the hunt for something different, let me recommend Phonics Pathways.
What’s so great about this program?
- For only $24.45 (even less if you buy a used copy) you get a phonics program that contains all you need to teach your child how to read and spell well.. and enjoy the process.
- The lessons are incredibly simple to teach. Most days, we just sit down, open up Phonics Pathways, and get started. Except at the very beginning of the program and when a completely new concept is introduced, there is no prep at all required on the parent’s part.
- Consistency is so important when teaching phonics. The numerous stopping points built in to Phonics Pathways make it easy to get in at least a few minutes of phonics practice every day. Even completing a whole page rarely takes more than fifteen minutes and Rose regularly begs for more. If your child needs extra practice in a particular area (or you want to make school extra fun) there are optional games for extra reinforcement that my children love. Because of the layout, more advanced students can zoom through the pages while younger children can spend a week just covering a couple pages without feeling like they’re falling behind.
- Phonics Pathways introduces proper phonetic markings and highly helpful spelling rules from the very beginning. After reading the lesson together, the program encourages you to dictate a few words from the lesson to your student. This not not only helps reinforce the phonetic rules for reading, but encourages good spelling.
- Because Phonics Pathways encourages mastery of one phonetic rule before proceeding to another, when Rose transitioned to reading books on her own, she was able to read much more fluently than I expected. Most of the words she didn’t have to pause and think about. Even longer words weren’t a cause for panic, because the program introduced simple, though long, words early and carefully showed the student how to break them down into little parts.
[Full disclosure: links to products in this post are my referral links.]