Reading is a really big deal in our house. I stress to my kids as they grow that being a strong reader is the key to everything. When we can, and enjoy, reading there are so many doors of opportunity open to us! That means I know and appreciate the value of phonics when it comes to learning how to read. Yet with one just beginning to really learn letters, another who is really struggling to gain stronger skills in this area, and a third who is reluctant to read much of anything as of late, I am desperate for anything that may help to bring some ease, and joy, into reading time at home. We have tried a number of programs, using whatever we can find and we have even created our own. Ultimate Phonics Reading Program from Spencer Learning is one more program that we are trying in the hopes of our kiddos becoming greater more eager readers.
We started using this program by taking their 10 Minute Reading Test. This is designed to get each student’s skills at decoding (which I believe to be a big issue with one of my three kiddos). As they state themselves, I believe as well that students need to be fluent and accurate decoders or they will never achieve good reading comprehension, spelling, and writing. Their test is a quick and easy way to check this very thing with your kids! As you complete this test you are encouraged to watch for your kids: Skipping words; Guessing at words; Adding words that aren’t there; Substituting different words with similar length or spelling. At the end of each exam are recommendations for how to proceed with your child based upon words misread.
With my oldest we were able to complete the reading test for grade 3-4 with only 3-4 words misread. With my younger son however we noticed he struggled quite a bit with the grade K-1 test. Often times I would catch him guessing at a word instead of sounding it out and since the further down the list we went the more he struggled. That said we started with my two younger ones (my son 7 and my daughter 5) at the very beginning of the program. Since both of my boys struggle with reading (although in very different ways) I wanted to ensure that we started them with this program in a way that would help them to feel some comfort and success.
This program contains over 4,400 words which are broken down and also over 2,100 sentences. This is a very thorough and well designed program! It is a complete systematic phonics program featuring approximately 262 lessons. Each lesson is broken up into six parts:
- Word list
- Sight word
This is an amazing program with lessons containing word lists and flashcards. Each lesson builds on the previous one with lots of opportunity for our kids to review previous lessons. So there is lots of reinforcement too. This is a wonderful way to not just encourage them to read but also help to build their confidence!
Ultimate Phonics Reading Program is recommended for all ages, whether a beginning reader or adults, so there is something to encourage everyone! This is a simple, interactive program without a lot of distractions or entertaining “games” so it really helps our kids to focus on what matters. My kids are used to games and all kinds of fun programs with bells and whistles and cute and crazy characters, so this was quite a change for them. But I do believe that the lack of “stuff” really helped them to focus and stay on task (especially my oldest son) so I have to say I was quite pleased with that!
My younger son is really enjoying this program. Most days we did one lesson; some days he actually wanted to do two. That is a good thing since he really wants to read but has been so very frustrated in the past. I think it helps that is such a simple, no frills kind of program. And he appreciates how this program focuses on reading without anything distracting. It’s good when our kids even acknowledge that right? Some days we may just read over the word lists too; I think it helps build his confidence when he begins to struggle, going back to see and remember all that he has learned so far.
Learning how to read isn’t an easy thing for everyone. It can be a real struggle for some. I remember how easily my oldest son picked it up when he was young. Today though I can hardly get him to read a short article in his scouts magazine. Then I look at my younger son and daughter both who are so easter to learn how to read and yet struggling to really gain the skills they need in order to do so. This program has been so much more than I expected it to be for my children. Particularly my younger two who I see growing together and enjoying reading to one another and to their baby sister too at night sometimes! The simplicity and focus of this program is a wonderful thing I believe. This program allows them to see and learn without anything else taking away their focus. My oldest son needs that kind of thing. When he reds, he gets distracted by all those other things in the background. So this was perfect for encouraging him to read and strengthen his skills, even though he does read (when he wants to) far above his age level. He didn’t use this a lot but I encourage him to read 2-3 times a week. And I can see a difference in all three of my kids and their abilities so that makes me one happy momma.
I love how this really is designed to help everyone from my little beginning reader to my struggling child, my reluctant reader and even adults who are perhaps learning English as a foreign language; even an older youth who perhaps has some learning disabilities. I love this for some many reasons. In fact I have been wanting for some time now to reach out and teach English to those in our community wanting to learn, and this has really inspired and encouraged me in that too. Needless to say this is a program that is simple and easy to use, it helps to understand and engage all students in the things they really need to know. Its a great way for all ages to grow and gain a love and appreciation for reading along the way!
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