Phonics Pathways (10th Edition)
Subtitled "Clear Steps to Easy Reading and Perfect Spelling," this volume lives up to its name. Using a Basic Phonics approach (aka "pure" phonics), no sight words are introduced until basic decoding and reading skills are well-established. Even then, such words are introduced in clusters according to sound and spelling pattern so that they may be more easily learned. If you are familiar with other phonics programs, this one strikes me as a cross between Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and Alpha-Phonics. It is well organized, systematic, incremental, and thorough in its presentation. Instructions are clear and lessons require no preparation time. After reading through the brief introduction, you can sit right down with the book and your child, spending 10-15 minutes a day on the lessons. If you feel overwhelmed or ill-equipped to teach your child to read, you should be able to succeed with this program because the author has already done the "legwork" for you. She provides it all - how to present and explain each phonogram, spelling rules that apply, reviews, exercises and helpful tips. Additionally, the author includes exercises for vision/motor coordination exercises (which are apparently identical to ones prescribed by ophthalmologists for problems with eye strength or tracking). Testimonials abound, with success stories in regular classrooms, from home schoolers, with learning disabled children, and with older and remedial students. The approach is multisensory, so it will be just as usable with a visual learner as an auditory or kinesthetic one. Going beyond teaching phonograms, the book covers contractions, plural forms, homonyms and homophones, homographs, prefixes, suffixes, and compound words. An additional helpful feature is the attention given to syllabication. The author's approach here makes it possible for the young reader to confidently tackle even the longest words. As she so aptly states, "How children learn may be different - but what they learn should be the same. Everyone should be able to decode even the longest unfamiliar words, syllable by syllable." Indeed, the book progresses from "a" to "A strong foundation to a house is indispensable" with sure mastery of skills in between. Typeface for the student to read is large (24 pt) so as not to strain the eyes and both printed and written forms of "a" and "g" are taught. The program is self-contained with no supplemental readers or materials required (though you will probably want to supply your student with additional reading material at his skill level). Welcome additions to the 10th edition include: pictures illustrating every sound introduced, lessons in dividing multi-syllable words, and nonsense word reviews to ensure learning. The paperback format also features easy-to-copy, lay-flat pages. The appropriate integration of spelling rules into the phonics lessons (reminiscent of An Acorn in My Hand) make this an excellent spelling reference also. Little proverbs of encouragement, both for teacher and student, are sprinkled generously throughout. One oddity of the book is that it seems to be written from a third person point of view - speaking to the student but, at times, addressing both you and the student as though the author was there speaking to both of you (kind of like a phonics facilitator). This threw me in the first bank of instructions, but, after that, its references to the teacher as a separate entity disappear, and the text can be used as your verbal instruction to your child. The completeness, ease of use, and relatively low cost of this program should make it valuable to homeschoolers as their basal phonics curriculum.
Programs in this section focus primarily on teaching children to read, and may not provide comprehensive instruction in reading comprehension, spelling, writing, or other language skills. Arranged roughly by grade.
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