October 30, 2020

The Simple, Inexpensive Way To Teach Reading

My biggest fear when we started homeschooling was whether or not I would be able to teach our children to read. Reading is foundational to every other subject. God is pleased to reveal Himself through His written Word, and more than the joy of transporting themselves across the globe or through time and space with historical, scientific, and geographical books, I wanted them to be able to discover God’s plan for the world, and their place in it.

Nevertheless, I have no teaching degree, and to say that the variety of curricula available to teach reading is overwhelming would be an understatement. There are hundreds of different ways to teach reading. There’s the whole language approach and the phonics approach; computer games, workbooks, and interactive learning products; labor-intensive and all-inclusive; colorful or no-frills; big brand or self-published materials. How does one choose? The simple, inexpensive way to teach reading using the phonics approach – that’s what I really wanted.

Originally, I bought a copy of Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons. Several friends had shared their success with it, and it came with rave reviews. It’s phonetically based, and I liked the fact that everything I needed was contained in one book. Our oldest was 3 1/2 at the time and extremely interested in learning to read, so we gave it a whirl. It didn’t work. She was thoroughly confused by all the diacritical marks over each letter. I suspect her age had a lot to do with her frustration, and since I didn’t want reading to be something she dreaded, I put the book away.

A few weeks later, I was reading through one of my all-time favorite books on homeschooling: Teaching The Trivium by Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn. They recommended using Alpha-Phonics by Samuel L. Blumenfeld to teach reading because of its extreme simplicity. I looked into Alpha-Phonics a little more and ended up buying a copy online.

We started using Alpha-Phonics the day it arrived in the mail and I was blown away with excitement! It was simple, straight forward, and intuitive. You can open the book and go. All 128 lessons are completely self-explanatory and require no teacher preparation, however, if you’re in need of suggestions, there’s a teacher’s guide included in the back.

There’s no writing involved (though I did make several light pencil markings), no additional workbooks, no pictures, no cutting, no pasting, no laminating, no-frills, and no distractions whatsoever.

Alpha-Phonics does not come with a classroom format and is designed for one-on-one instruction, making it ideal for homeschooling parents. Each lesson takes 10-20 minutes, and most of ours were done curled up on the couch.

The Alpha-Phonics program utilizes the phonogram method, where each vowel is presented individually and all of the possible word families using that vowel are memorized before the next vowel is introduced. This method proved to be highly effective for us, and there was no problem transitioning to early readers that required sounding out unfamiliar words. Alpha-Phonics had given our daughter all the tools she needed.

She caught on right away and begged to do lesson after lesson. Two-thirds of the way in, she could read at a Grade 1 level, and by the time Alpha-Phonics was finished, she was comfortable reading Grade 3 readers from the library. Now, she’ll read anything she can find to put her nose in.

Alpha-Phonics took the fear out of teaching a child how to read for me and made it simple and painless. It’s not childish at all, and suitable for use with older children and even adults who desire to read English! It can be used again and again, (we’re about to begin our second time through), making the already competitively priced book even less expensive if you have multiple children.

I strongly recommend Alpha-Phonics to any parent who is searching for a simple, easy, inexpensive, all-inclusive, self-explanatory and highly effective phonetic approach to reading. It’s suitable for children as young as 3 and can be used just as well with adults.  We didn’t make use of the accompanying CD or the Alpha-Phonics and How To Tutor Phonics Companion Workbook, so if your budget is tight, you can easily get away without the add-ons and purchase the Alpha-Phonics book individually.

If you prefer digital instruction, something less old-school looking and more aesthetically pleasing, or a curriculum that requires more prep work, Alpha-Phonics is probably not for you.

Have you used Alpha-Phonics to teach reading? Or have you found something else that works? I’d love to hear about your experience!

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