Memoria Press Phonics & Reading
A surprise from a publisher known for its Latin programs! First Start Reading from Memoria Press is deceptively simple with an emphasis on vowel-consonant/word-families phonics and a serious focus on correct pencil grip and letter formation. Yes, in a day and age when penmanship is often ignored, they've chosen to make it a central part of their approach to reading. And, I have to confess it makes sense. After all, it serves as a kinesthetic reinforcement activity.
First Start Reading is a traditional and uncomplicated approach to phonics. After starting with ear training, vowel-consonant blending with unvoiced (m, n, s, r, f, t) consonants is first. Teach one sound for each phonogram at a time. Practice the new phonogram and its sound in a word family list with extensive practice in CVC words. Practice reading words and sentences as early as possible and reinforce learning with manuscript printing and that strong emphasis on correct pencil grip and letter formation. Include a small number of sight words. Throw in a couple of clever "tricks" for dealing with b-d confusion and you're done! Once mastered, these skills should take the student competently into a first grade reading level.
The entire program consists of four Student Worktexts (A-D) and a Teacher's Guide. The worktexts are about half letter presentation, blending, and reading practice and half writing practice space - on facing pages. Black and white line art drawings that can be colored keep the look clean. Letter formation clues include directional arrows on sample letters and starting point "dots." The four Student Worktexts are from 70 to 108 pages. The Teacher's Guide starts with an introduction that covers all the basics - syllabi for the Worktexts, the phonics approach, getting started, phonics recitation (an important element of the program), and pencil grip instruction. The rest of the book - except for a few reproducible visuals in the appendix - are wrap-around lesson plans. The lesson plans include general information for the teacher as well as scripted instructions for the student. As mentioned, half of every lesson is writing instruction, which serves as phonics reinforcement.
We expect easy-to-use from Memoria Press and we're not disappointed here. There's an amazing amount of quality phonics/reading instruction in a very reasonably priced package. You might be wondering what to do after this course. Perhaps Memoria will publish a sequel but until then they recommend Primary Phonics as a follow-up. First Start Reading is obviously designed as a lead-in to another new program from Memoria: StoryTime Treasures. Check our reading section for more information. ~ Janice