Dear Let's Go Learn, I am looking for a phonics program to teach to my 4 year old son. I have found a list of phonics programs recommended by the National Right to Read Foundation (http://www.nrrf.org/testimonials.html), but I am curious if there are any other organizations the can provide independent evaluations of the various phonics programs available on the market. Most phonics programs do not have such evaluations available. Rather, they simply list testimonials from satisfied customers, which is less convincing. Thank you for any suggestions you might have on resources for selecting the best phonics program.
Hello, Thanks for your email. Here are my thoughts about phonics programs: Unfortunately, most phonics programs that I have seen are remarkably similar. The biggest differences I see are the order in which they teach the sounds, or the speed at which they introduce reading in context. (There are cosmetic differences too, like one program might sing the sounds, one might have hand signals that go with certain sounds etc) The thing that I try to keep in mind is this: Reading is made up of three main skills and phonics is only one of them. A reader must 1) Sound out words (phonics) 2) Memorize words that can not be sounded out (these words are often called "sight words" and make up about 30% of words) and 3) Use contextual clues to determine the meaning of what you read as you read it. In my opinion, the best reading programs concentrate on all three of these areas (there aren't many of them). If you are going to use a phonics program with your son, I suggest supplementing it with sight words and contextual reading practice. Don't let any of this stuff discourage you, approx 70% of kids learn to read no matter what reading program is administered.
Tags: emergent literacy, early reading, phonics program