Call me old-fashioned

It seems that everywhere I turn there is a new program promising to teach your child to read. There's Spell to Read to Write, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, The Writing Road to Reading, or some phonics something-or-another.

I am genuinely puzzled by all of this. I learned to read without any of these schmancy programs. Didn't you?

I feel quite certain (well, pretty certain) that my children can learn to read without any of the above.

I keep asking my husband, "Am I just being completely naiive?" He of course assures me that I am not. After all, he learned to read the same way I did. But then, if that tried-and-true "old" method worked just fine, why are all these new methods out there?

For those of you who do use these programs, are you doing them because you want your child to read by a certain age? Because your child is struggling in reading? Or... why, exactly? I fully realize that there may be a perfectly good reason and I'm just unaware of it.

I know NOTHING about phonics. Zip. I mean, obviously I know that it has to do with the sounds of the letters, but really, that right there is the extent of my knowledge. My plan is to continue reading aloud to my daughter (who is five), encouraging her to sound out words as she is able, in anticipation that some day it will just click.

Call me old-fashioned, but that is our reading plan.

I would love to hear from you. What are you using and why? Has anyone taught their child to read without using an official reading program? And how'd that go?


  1. Ooh, I get to be first! We decided to homeschool our children, our oldest was 5 last fall so we chose a phonics book, The Child's Story Bible by Vos, Spectrum Math workbook level 1, and an art book. My husband decided she would learn phonics. (no input either way by me) An elementary school friend of mine (education major) told me probably 8 or 9 years ago that we had learned a mix of phonics and whole word, I had no idea! Anyway, so I perused some phonics programs (and knowing we were totally on a small budget) ended up checking reviews (I found this site especially helpful )
    She has a book that I looked over at the bookstore, so I didn't have to buy it! We chose Phonics Pathways. It's basically a big paperback book that starts with short vowels, then consonants, then blends, then long vowels, etc. I liked having a book to go by so I didn't skip over a crucial point or forget anything. One of the reasons I liked this book is it emphasizes spelling. Most kids who learn phonics seem to not spell well.

    So far, this and a plain writing tablet are all we have used for phonics. We've gone slowly (life happens!) so I wouldn't say she's reading yet but she's learned a lot and is making very good progress.

    My SIL taught my 1st niece by whole word but my 2nd niece isn't getting it at all and she needs a phonics method.

    Also, watching the movie Akeelah and the Bee reminded me of how words are put together and that understanding phonics actually helps you to define and spell bigger words.

    Hope that helps,

  2. I used 100 easy lessons and love it for less than $20 for the book. It just gave us some structure, but I do think you can do it the way you described as well. I think what works for one kid might not work for the next, etc.

  3. After going through all the letter sounds for a year and playing with vowel-consanent-vowel words, I bought the phonics pathway's too. The author has a phonics pathway's pyramid book too, that has helped immensly with tracking. Less than $40,00 total for both. Keeps me on track and systematic - which I naturally gravitate towards.
    I use the dolch sight word list printed from the internet, but besides that I am a strong believer in phonics.
    It's working too. My now 6 1/2 year old is reading well, though he needs to build up confidence.

  4. Oops - that was Me that commented last.
    Dana in TX but flying home today!

  5. Hi Stacy;

    I haven't used a program for any of my kids (4) out of 6 are reading now. Antonio came in August not even knowing a letter and by January he was sounding out his first words!
    I would be happy to share...basically we just go through the alphabet and learn letter name and sound that 'he/she' says (I make the letters a "character"). I start with all vowels making only a short sound(cat, bat, hit, it, at), but first work on consonents (b,c,d,f...about a letter a week, mixed with crafts or projects for that letter. ex.: A- make paper airplanes,eat apples, make ants out of dough, draw apple trees...lots of free online resourses) Then, I work on long sounds (that is when the vowel says his name...a says "A", i says, "I"...I make little books for them to read. (it builds confidence when you can sound out all the words in a book! and illustrations are fun!) Cat sat (page one) Fat cat! (page 2) Cat is sad. (page 3) You get the idea.

    I let the kids use it like a coloring book, so they spend more time concentrating on the words/letters.
    All my kids learned this way- I never bought any program. Bella was reading at 4, Lacianna at 3 1/2, Tia 4, Antonio 4. Antonio and Tia came to us at 3 and 4 years old...they hadn't even seen a letter or written any. God is good. I am hoping to have more time with Sabrina over the summer to catch the reading bug.
    All my kids love books, love to be read to and look forward to being readers like the big ones.
    Be happy to answer any more questions you might have.

    I did borrow an adults literacy program from our public library when I was teaching my oldest way back wehn(now out of print...Dr. Christman's Learn to Read) that is where I got the idea of drawing and writing my own books for them to read.
    As soon as we get some speed going and we have memorized some words (like the...nothing like hearing tah-ha-e for the zillionth time) then we move to a beginners bible. Read,read, read. I also create a reading log, to track all the books they read in a the end of the school year we have a how many we read party-or go out for dessert! (most of them have read 50 books the first year reading.


  6. I haven't used a program per se, but some old phonics books that my mama gave me. You know, short a, e, i, o and u. Little stories with only those letters in the middle of the words! Corban learned to read really well with those, and now with Micah, I'm leaning towards helping him learn to just sight read - not so much sounding out, because there are so many rule breakers!
    Anyway, I agree with you about the fancy programs - I learned to read on my own, at 4 years old, by sight, not sounding out! Works for me! :)

  7. I've wondered about this too. I've worked on letter names and sounds with Peregrine, and have assumed that I'd know when he was ready to start reading, and that it would happen fairly naturally. We've sounded things out on occasion, with me watching to see if he's interested or not. In the last week, he is suddenly doing it on his own! I'ts quite exciting to see, and I'm still not going to push it, but will work on it with him as he's interested. (He's not quite 4 1/2, and I want him to be ready.)
    My sister gave me the 100 easy lessons book. I asked her about it and she said she taught her first two to read without any program and used this with her third.
    I think I'm with you on this- it seems like it will happen naturally when the time is right. If you provide good soil and water and plant the seeds, they're going to grow, right?
    Let us know how it goes!

  8. I'm a little late to join in but I wanted to add what we've done. I have a 4 and 5 yr old who are using the 100 easy lessons book. My oldest got about half way through and really took off. We don't usually do the lessons anymore he just likes to read the little stories and I'll go over the new letters or blends with him. Now he gives "lessons" to his 4 year old sister. It's hilarious to watch. He's actually a great teacher and she's starting to read the first little sentences! We also read all day long, picture books, the Bible, The Children's Story Bible (Vos), chapter books - the kids love it! Even the 2 year old is starting to recognize that words are made up of letters and looks for "K's" everywhere.

    I like the 100 Easy Lessons book because it's been around for almost 40 years and is based on tons of research.

    Just my two cents.


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