Jun 22, 2009

Please Advise

I'm confused about Phonics.

I learned to read before my memory started. I know I was taught with phonics, but that is all I know about it. I can not remember a time when I could not pick up a book, newspaper, magazine, whatever, and not just read what it said.

My two older kids learned to read effortlessly. They both have good memories and are visual learners. They learned letter recognition from watching Sesame Street and quickly picked up the different sounds the letters make (although Nate still gets a tad confused every now and then with w and y.) and from there, they just started reading. It wasn't until after they were reading independently that I learned that there are steps like "reading for fluency". I still don't understand how it is supposed to work.

Now, I might be borrowing trouble here, but I am concerned about teaching my younger two to read. Neither of them seem to be very visual. Daniel is kinesthetic, I think, and Abbie is just, "is it fun? No? Oh, then nevermind!" So I have been on the lookout for a phonics program for them. I have mentioned that I used Phonics Pathways with Kaytie and Nate, and that I strongly disliked it. I also don't think that it will go over well with an active learner and a fun-only learner. I just don't see that happening. But phonics programs are so expensive! I mean, really, $100+ just to teach them to read?

So I'm thinking, WHY do I need a program? Most of them (I have perused online, not in person), seem to consist of flashcards, workbooks, and little readers. Is there more to them to this? Because quite frankly, I think the games and puzzles I have already will do a better job of teaching these two littles than that.

But am I missing out on something here? Do I need a phonics program to teach phonics? I am really hoping that all of you who have taught several (or even one) children to read will have lots of tips and advice for me.


FunkyFrum said...

I always fretted when it came to teaching my kids to read. I read books! Oh, my, the books I read. About lots of methods. And it always seemed to me that by the time I finished reading the books, my "difficult" kid had taught themselves. That being said, I know our local library has a huge set of Hooked on Phonics and other like programs you can check out.

Julie said...

I'm like you, I just always remember reading and not the kind of instruction I received. I don't believe we were taught phonics per se, but probably a mix of phonics and whole word. With ds2 I used Abeka which is phonics based...you could definitely do it yourself with homemade cards and just drilling letter sounds/blends. With ds3 he hated phonics but did well with Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons which is also a blend of learning sounds and sight reading. Your little ones are around readers so much I know they will pick it up easily...as a matter of fact, ds3 started improving when ds2 began reading to him. :)

Alicia B said...

I am amazed at how well two of my daughters picked up the sounds from the Leapfrog Letter Factory DVD. I let them watch it in the van when we went to the Dr's (about 45 minutes away)a few times and they just clicked with them. It sort of introduced it and then I could reinforce after that...just something that worked for me.

Alicia B

One More Equals Four said...

I would certainly not consider myself an expert, but with 3 children who are reading and as a former kindergarten teacher, I have done a LOT of teaching instruction and you are right. Most phonics programs introduce a letter, practice the sounds and teachin blending the sounds into words. You can definitely do that at home in the methods that work for your children. I did not use a formal method for my oldest son. I did use Abeka with my other two who are reading but that is only because that is what the instructors at our tutorial used, I would have just done the same thing I did with my first otherwise. You are doing a great job and they will "get it" maybe not as early or as quickly as the first two, but it will come!

joelle said...

My 2 kids picked up reading on their own as well. They are both very good sight readers. I did use starfall.com, which is a really great website for reading, to make sure they knew their phonics. I would definitely recommend it. I know lots of kids who did well with Teach your child to read in 100 lessons and the spalding method.

Jessica said...

You might look into Ruth Beechick's "Home start in Reading". It is very straightforward and short:) It will give you the basics of teaching phonics and then you can enhance it from there. Also I think it would be really easy to adapt to different learning styles.
I agree phonics programs are way overpriced!

Jessica said...

Did you see the post over at Preschoolers and Peace? She shares some good ideas with pics:)


Anonymous said...

You could also use the Explode the Code workbooks. They are NOT expensive, and you then could supplement with easy readers. The book "The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading" is also a great resource. Like most things, we tend to make it more difficult than it really is. Make it fun, and kids will like it.

Linda said...

I taught Kindergarten for 21 years and Reading Recovery for 10 years. I would recommend using the Guided Reading approach. It is taken from the Reading Recovery format and is very successful. It totally changed my thinking about teaching one to read. Here is a link to buy the Guided Reading book http://books.heinemann.com/products/08863.aspx You could always ask Barnes and Nobels to order it for you. In addition I recommend the web sit A to Z Reading. It is about $60 but is well worth it as you can download easy readers for about 25-30 reading levels. It also has lesson plans and work sheets. Here is the link for their web address http://www.readinga-z.com/index.php
Good luck.

Spesamor Academy said...

Wow! I never realized so many moms read my blog! :)
Thank you all so much for commenting, and for giving me advice.
There is lots of encouragement and ideas and links to explore here! Thank you all so much, and keep it coming. :)

Amanda XOX said...

Total fan of Leap Frog Letter Factory DVD and Starfall.com. My kiddo picked up letter sounds after watching the DVD 3 times! I couldn't believe it! And he's navigating the Starfall website learning more about letter sounds and words all the time! Good luck!

Mama Teaching 2 said...

No, after helping my 2 boys find their way to reading I am convinced one can do it with just a few things.
*Teach the sounds of the letters
*Show them some words and show them how to blend them together.
*When they come to a tricky word like fudge just say, "See dge says g all the time". After this happens a few times they remember.
*Have books around and have them read a sentence and then you, etc.
*Make it fun. Use it as snuggle time on the couch with you. And use crafts and special foods to make a theme on the book.

I look forward to seeing how you teach the smallest members. :)

Homeschool Dawn said...

Hi! I am happy you decided to follow my blog. Thanks.
My older son learned to read pretty much on his own. My younger is a kinestic learner too and has needed additional help with phonics. I LOVE All About Spelling. It is really a phonics program than a true spelling program. It has a hands-on kit that you must buy once (about $50 new) with magnetic letter and phoneme tiles and other manipulatives. There are four levels, each with a different instructor's manual ($20 new). He is loving it, doing very well, and I'm enjoying it too.
If you're interested, I have a link to their site from my blog.


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