Phonics programs for kids who already read? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 16 Old 01-12-2012, 01:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My 4 year old has started reading.  He taught himself, just like my 9 year old did years ago.  They are sight readers, look at a word, ask what it is, and remember it. Period.  We have played with various phonics computer games, but both kids taught themselves to read before I sat down to really teach phonics.  So, it sounds great, BUT- there are times when you need to be able to sound out a new word- the first time you see some weird dinosaur name for example.   I would love to find a game or program focused on the 4 year old that I can coach my 9 year old to do with him to help them both learn phonics better.  And at least if I start now, maybe the 2 year old will learn phonics anyway.    Suggestions?

 

TIA,

 

 


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#2 of 16 Old 01-12-2012, 04:51 PM
 
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My kids were all early spontaneous sight-readers, but they had enough knowledge of letter sounds that they were able to use that basic phonetic understanding to build their reading ability through contextual clues. And because reading was such fun for them, they did a fair bit of it, and gradually they intuited the rules of phonetic decoding very well indeed. If something puzzled them, they'd ask about it ("How can you tell from the letters if a C makes the kuh sound or the sss sound? Do you just try it both ways and guess which one makes sense?") but they didn't ask questions very often. Attempting to write words also taught them tons about phonetics -- even though they did only very small bits of interest-driven writing, or playing with fridge magnet letters. By the time they were 5 or so they were just as handy decoding multi-syllabic Russian names, dinosaur names and written dialect as anyone could be.

 

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#3 of 16 Old 01-12-2012, 06:55 PM
 
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I wonder if you can find a way to make it a game? I can't imagine readers wanting to sit down and sound out a word they already know so what if you made up a reading/writing game of inventing crazy sounding words together? Or worked on some Dr. Seus-isms? Tackle a unit on dinosaurs? Sounding out is good but "real world" we mainly dissect for familiar word parts so that might be a better place to emphasize . Phonics won't necessarily get you to the right pronunciation in English anyway.

 

My mom used to drive me up.a.wall. as a kid when I would ask her how to spell a word she would break it down into word parts for me so it would go like this --

me: How do you spell disinterested?

mom: dis-interest-ed

me: I don't know how to spell interest either

mom: i-n-t-e-r-e-s-t

me: so .. d-i-s-i-n-t-e-r-e-s-t-d

mom: no.. dis - interest  - Ed

 

but yes I learned very well. 


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#4 of 16 Old 01-13-2012, 01:51 AM
 
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Well,  Starfall.com is is free.  Or you could look into paying sites like ETC online, Reading Eggs or Headsprout.  Reading Eggs is doing a 2 week trial right now and there's a voucher off for a 1 yr subscription at Halfoffdepot.com.

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#5 of 16 Old 01-13-2012, 04:49 PM
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Since your kids are already reading, I think they would find both headsprout and reading eggs to be very tiresome and redundant rather quickly.  With both of those you have to follow the predetermined route of progression.  It is very repetitive.  Starfall is different though since the kids are more in charge.  However, if I were in your shoes, I would just buy All About Spelling and work on that.  Yes, it is technically a spelling program, however, it is phonics and rule based.  It deals with the exceptions too though.  Each lesson is scripted and short, everyone starts at level one, but your older child would probably progress a bit quicker than your younger child.  At first it seems silly to start everyone at level one, but even if you cruise through the first level I find it important because the program builds off itself.  The program uses tiles and my kids have always found it fun--my 5 year old thinks of it as a game and has recently asked for a "real" spelling book eyesroll.gif because this program is her spelling GAME -- not school.  

 

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#6 of 16 Old 01-14-2012, 06:58 AM
 
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Spelling might be the skill to focus on. I was that kid who learned by sight words, and was a very fluent reader in Kindergarten. However, I could not spell.  I didn't have the "click" of spelling until around 8th grade.


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#7 of 16 Old 01-14-2012, 04:52 PM
 
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Reading eggs might not be too bad, since it does a pre-test to determine current reading level.  

 

Progressive Phonics might also be good, it's free and they could work through the books as quickly as they needed to.

 

Doing it through spelling is also a good idea.  My recommendation would be Sequential Spelling, since it does focus on patterns.  Since your kids learned to read on their own -- by observation and absorption, presumably -- they might like the approach of Sequential Spelling.  It doesn't "teach" the rules as such (though there are separate materials if you want to go through them more formally) -- and it's not "here's a list of words, study them this week then we'll have a test."  Instead, it demonstrates patterns that a student then can more or less intuitively work out, actively extrapolate, then apply to more and more complex words.  For instance, the very beginning of level 1 starts with "in".  Easy.  Then you get "sin" "pin" and then "spin".  You get "be", then you get "begin".  Over the next few days, you do "sins, pins, spins, begins" and finally "inning, sinning, pinning, spinning, beginning."  Within a few days, a beginner level student is spelling "beginning" - very likely correctly on the first try.

 


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#8 of 16 Old 01-14-2012, 07:12 PM
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A lot of people like Sequential Spelling (as tankgirl mentions).  My only reservation is that at the age of the op's kids, they wouldn't benefit much from that program.  Well, perhaps the 9 yr old.  Also, because it focuses on pattern recognition, it won't give the kids a phonics background to pull from when they encounter odd/new/made-up words.  They would already need to know some basic phonics to have much success with the program.  I also think that because you have simple and difficult words in each list, that the child should be reading at a 4th grade level or better before beginning it.  It seems pointless to try to teach the spelling of words they can't yet read.

 

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#9 of 16 Old 01-14-2012, 11:49 PM
 
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Ds1 is a total sight reader.  He initially learned phonics through 100 Easy Lessons, but it seems that the more competent reader he became the more phonics rules he forgot.  We tried to remedy this problem with Explode the Code last year, but it didn't help.  So, we just keep reading and I have to hope it will all work itself out in the end. 

 

FYI, we have been using Sequential Spelling with Ds1 since first grade, and I think it has helped him tremendously in the sounding-out-words-department.  True, he may not know the meaning of 'omitting' (one of his words from yesterday) but he was able to spell it correctly!  Phonics, right?!!  He's getting it!  I actually think that Sequential Spelling is a natural fit for sight readers - at least my sight reader - as they seem to prefer to intuit the rules through patterns and repetition rather than have someone lay it all out for them. 

 

As an aside, IMO there aren't THAT many unknown words in Sequential Spelling (ds1 is 7.5 and no he is not a genius or anything). 


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#10 of 16 Old 01-15-2012, 07:27 AM
 
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hmm, what comes to mind is that your youngest is VERY young. 

 

I learnt to read at around 3, I was a total sight reader, and I remember gradually working out the rules of phonics. 

 

I had to get up to speed with phonics recently-my oldest appears probably to be dyslexic, and to teach him to read I ended up adopting a very strict phonics approach (this worked, he is now reading independently and spontaneously and tbh, to the extent that its slightly antisocial ;-) ). I honestly found it quite hard, i realised I'd never learnt these rules at all. But I could sound out probably any sound in English, certainly as well as anyone else I know. I think time, and a lot of exposure to words, can be enormously helpful.

 

I also notice that my 6 year old who has largely taught herself to read with no phonics instruction aside from what she's picked up from me teaching her brother, and from helping her younger sister on reading eggs (my 6 yo really will not use a computer, so never really used reading eggs herself), also seems to be a whole word reader, and seems to be intuiting how words fit together. 

 

I think if they are reading independently and enthusiastically I'd leave it to see if, really, a problem develops. Like i say, your youngest is VERY young, and has plenty of time just to enjoy this new skill of reading.

 

The only thing I think I might do is to read to them, stuff slightly too hard for them, stuff they can't actually read themselves. And give them stuff that's slightly too hard for them-I think a big, big help to kids in learning to read is that thing of having words that they just don't know what they are, but they keep finding in their books, and eventually the word will be in a context they recognise and it will click. Also, i don't think children have to know every word or be able to sound out every word. My 6 year old reads books where she is probably only able to read around 75% of the words, she's guessing the rest or sounding them out when they are not too hard, it doesn't seem to make that much difference, she still understands what's going on and she's improving all the time. I do think, at 4, being able to read at all is a bonus and, having the luxury of time, you should use it.


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#11 of 16 Old 01-15-2012, 11:27 AM
 
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Sequential Spelling is actually designed for grade 1 and up.  It's designed - when used FULLY - to teach the reading and meaning of the words at the same time as the spelling.  Although I would agree that age 4 is probably too young - I was overlooking that when I posted.  I wouldn't say you need to have a 'grade 4 reading level', but you do need to be comfortable with writing, and most 4-year-olds, even the gifted ones, aren't ready for that yet.

 

My daughter is 5, fairly gifted, reading at least at a grade 1 level already.  She loves Reading Eggs and Progressive Phonics - which is why I suggested them.  :)  But as much as I'm tempted to start it, we haven't started Sequential Spelling yet.  She writes spontaneously all the time, has since she was 3, but her letters are still developing.  I want to finish a handwriting course before getting into SS.  Which will probably align nicely with "grade 1" for her.

 

My son started SS only when he was 12, so it was very different.  It was "too easy", though we still had to work through all the patterns, so we did it accelerated, without doing all the reinforcement techniques all the time -- only for the few patterns he needed extra work with.  He's now 13 and halfway through level 2, still going at an accelerated pace.  It still feels like he's 'catching up' to where he would otherwise be if we'd started it earlier (ie, if we'd known about it earlier!)  So I think waiting until grade 4 is highly unnecessary.   Basic phonic skills - like a grade 1 level - should be sufficient, along with writing.

 

I'd also tend to agree with Fillyjonk... 4 is very young.  He might very well be 'plateaued' at his current reading level for quite some time.  My daughter became proficient with CVC words (cat, rug, bed, etc) when she was 3.5yo.  And stayed at that level for most of the next year.  She very happily read those easy words whenever she had a chance.  But there was nor really much "progress" and she resisted any attempts to try to 'teach' her anything more about reading - so we didn't, of course.  Suddenly, sometime after she turned 4, though, she took off again.  She become interested in learning more and loved working through the materials I mentioned above.  Less than a year later, she's now at least at a grade 1 level and reads with a surprising degree of fluency -- not just 'decoding' but also context clues, sight words, and with inflection and expression in her sentences.  

 

So if your 4yo isn't really EXCITED KEEN about doing some phonics stuff, just let it rest and keep reading with him.  If he IS, though, then follow his lead on that and try whatever caught your interest from this thread.  :)  In either case, wait a couple years then consider Sequential Spelling, it will help fill in any phonics 'gaps' he may have missed along the way.  


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#12 of 16 Old 01-15-2012, 12:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tankgirl73 View Post

Sequential Spelling is actually designed for grade 1 and up.  It's designed - when used FULLY - to teach the reading and meaning of the words at the same time as the spelling.  Although I would agree that age 4 is probably too young - I was overlooking that when I posted.  I wouldn't say you need to have a 'grade 4 reading level', but you do need to be comfortable with writing, and most 4-year-olds, even the gifted ones, aren't ready for that yet.

 


Good to know.  I must not have been using it right.  

 

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#13 of 16 Old 01-17-2012, 06:52 AM
 
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I followed the link for Read Write Type. Is there any benefit one way or the other to the online vs CD products? I assume they mean CD roms? And to what grade level is the Read Write Type designed for?


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#14 of 16 Old 01-17-2012, 11:25 AM
 
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Quote:
The kinesthetic or tactile learning is completely missing from any free or paid programs I've tried, and I've tried over 200.

 

Then you've never tried Montessori.  Tactile is the very foundation of the Montessori methodology.

 

Or Handwriting Without Tears.  Technically it's a "writing" rather than a "reading" program, but you do get quite a bit of reading experience along the way.  And it's most definitely a tactile experience.

 

Sorry, that sounded to me like one big ad, even blatantly inviting us to her website to buy it...


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#15 of 16 Old 01-18-2012, 04:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all for replying.  I am actually using Spelling Power with my 9 year old.  Spelling is very hard for her, but this program is a great fit.  It does go over phonics some, and it has a style of only having the child practice words they don't know that clicks well for her.  I like it a lot better than the Sequential Spelling program, which we borrowed and tried for a while and just couldn't get into.

 

I just ordered zoophonics to try with the 4year old.  I might get the cards and find that it isn't as great as I want it to be, but I liked that it reads as though it will have the kinesthetic component that I prefer in a program for a small child (I also love HWT- but he's not ready to write).  I gave him a quick online reading assessment this weekend, and he tested out as reading on a first grade level- but he gets confused words like night and right, because he doesn't look closely, olr doesn't know phonics enough, I'm not sure.  I wrote sentences for him to read this weekend, and he was amazing. I even wrote "The president is Barak Obama" and he read that fine.  I don't want to push him, but I feel like I would like to get ahead of him and be able to lay more of a foundation before he develops any bad habits. 

 

I do read to them, play with letters and words, let the 4 year old watch leapfrog videos and play educational computer games- leapfrog, jump start, starfall, etc.  and yes I am happy he is learning so easily, but... its a bit overwhelming too. 


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#16 of 16 Old 01-19-2012, 07:54 AM
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You know, a simple way to check on whether or not they have "phonics" skills is to write a list on nonsense words.  If they can figure them out, then they have some sort of understanding regarding basic phonics.  

 

Oh, btw I tried spelling power too--it does incorporate phonics but it isn't as specifically implemented as All About Spelling.  It may be all you child needs, but AAS is truly different.  All three programs (Power Spelling, Sequential Spelling, and AAS) stay away from traditional random lists to memorize.  

 

Amy


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