Phonics Programs — Is there a right one?

Phonics programs – Is there a “right” one?? Edit The answer to that question is probably. There are so many phonics programs on the market, each one with a little different sequence in the presentation of phonemes. Some are multisensory, some are inexpensive, some are very thorough, some are cute, some are easy to follow, some use cards–others charts, some incorporate music–others writing. So whatever your situation, there is probably a phonics program that will suit your needs. It is my opinion that phonics is a foundational stepping stone to reading, spelling, and writing. While there are a few children who will naturally self-learn reading and spelling, most children benefit from direct, systematic, multisensory phonics instruction. A presentation of consonants, short vowels, consonant blends and digraphs, silent e, and then long vowels and diphthongs helps students be able to decode most one-syllable words. I prefer to spend much time drilling and instructing short vowels and closed syllables, since about 47% of all syllables are closed. I enjoy using a variety of teaching techniques, using charts AND cards AND games for decoding practice. To be most effective, multisensory instruction integrates decoding practice with spelling practice of the same words. I like to jazz up spelling practice by using many fun activities to get children writing words. I find that sentence dictation for spelling is extremely useful in building short-term auditory memory skills, as well as generalizing spelling into written expression. I also feel that as new phonemes and rules are taught, previously instructed ones MUST be reviewed and integrated with new words. Especially for students who regress or forget easily, the rules must be directly taught and reviewed, rehearsed, retaught, and reviewed more. As a supplement to any phonics program, check out the phonics/spelling section for Wisdom Seekers Phonics Folder Games and for 101 Ideas for Hands-On Spelling Practice. These are great, inexpensive tools for making ANY phonics program more appealing and fun for students without losing intensity. Wisdom Seekers is just beginning to develop a Christian-based multisensory phonics/reading program to be used with any aged student. The program will progress from pre-reading phonemic awareness, instruction of sound-symbol alphabet, beginning phonics, and syllablication rules. It will integrate reading decoding practice, word lists for reading and spelling, sentences for reading and spelling, and readers with tightly controlled vocabulary to accompany the phonics instruction. Please pray for this project, as it is desperately needed by many students with special needs who are being educated in Christian schools and homeschools! If you are interested in this program, please let us know so that we can continue to put it on the high-priority list.

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