Phonics.What do you think of when you hear that word? Flash cards? Drill after drill? For a long time that's all I thought of when I heard that little word. But the Lord has grown me these last, oh I don't know, how long have I been homeschooling? Five years? Has it really been that long?
My thoughts and opinions about phonics and how to approach it have really changed since I started homeschooling but today I want to share with you what I am using with Brother and what I think about it.
I had been looking for something to use with this boy that was different than what I used with Biggest and Big Sis. With Biggest I used a drill intense, flashcard based program that was great but a lot of work and a little much in my opinion. Big Sis basically taught herself to read with little to no training at all. Brother is a different story. He is almost 6, doesn't know much about sounds, is dying to learn, but wants the learning to happen...like NOW. I knew that I needed something that showed results pretty quickly, was not overwhelming and was-above all else-FUN. He's a fun loving guy ya know!! :)
I asked advice from some of my Crew Mates over at the Homeschool Crew (*sigh* I just love those ladies!!) And I was given quite a few suggestions. I really wanted to find something that was inexpensive since we are anticipating another baby, a move and are trying to put all we have into paying off debt. And with having to school 3 children this fall I know that buying for each will be difficult.
One of my fellow Crew Mates suggested a program called Progressive Phonics and finally decided to check it out. This is the first line of what I read over at their website:
"Progressive Phonics is an all-in-one reading program that is easy, fun, and totally FREE---that's right, totally and completely free!"
Is that not what I was looking for?! The program can be started at whatever level your child is at, we started with the Alphabet books as they are the very beginning level books. They also have the following levels; Beginner Phonics, Intermediate Phonics, Advance Phonics and even Handwriting.
The program offers FREE online books that can be printed (we just read from the screen) that are really like your lesson plans and reading work all in one. You can read more about the Alphabetti approach here. I will just tell you what we do here.
Now, I've only just been using this for a few weeks so our work is beginning but exciting.
I sit down with an excited Brother and open up the book we are working with (on my laptop) we go over the sounds of the new letters, the first book covered o, d and g. Then the books talk a little about how to form those letters. They do it in a great way that works wonderfully with my guy. The have pictures of hands and show how to form the letters with our hands. For example 'o' is just a hand with round fist and 'd' is the same round fist (left hand) with a straight, flat right hand pressed against the left. I can't tell you how much I love how they teach letter formation!
I then review the sounds of his new letters and we are off reading. Progressive Phonics uses the shared reading approach. The parent does most of the reading but there are words in larger, red print that the child reads. So, in the first book Brother read the words dod and dog. This shared reading takes away the dullness of reading a book with two or three words only. Because we are both reading from the book there is a feeling of "true reading" going on. Not only that but the story lines are hilarious! He is always laughing throughout the stories and always wants to do more. That is great!!
There are also worksheets that can be printed out for every book. Each new letter has it's own "circle the picture that begins with the '*' sound" page, some handwriting pages, coloring pages, a neat page on letter formation and then a sheet cards with the words learned on them that are to be printed, cut and played with.
I also have created a salt box for more letter recognition practice, I am making play dough for him to form letters from that and I use our All About Spelling letter tiles to review during the week. (He loves those things!)
Brother has painlessly and almost effortlessly learned 5 words in the last two weeks or so. Doesn't get any better than that!!
So, all in all I am impressed and excited with the results from the first three books that we have used. This program is fun, colorful, hits many skill areas and effective.
So, if you are on the hunt for a phonics program for your little ones give Progressive Phonics a try. I think you just might be surprised!!
Update: We have now made it through the first 5 books and things are still going great! Inspite of some confusion with 'b' and 'd' (normal stuff) Brother is doing great! He can now read the following words:
dod (the main character's name), bob, bag, bad, dog, and bab....I'm sure I'm forgetting one or two...I've also taught him God since he's learned all the letter sounds.
Brother still loves his phonics time and honestly it feels too easy! I am always thinking that I need to add in more but this simple approach and the addition of the salt box, play dough and letter tiles is showing results! Go ahead and check it out for yourself!!!