January 27, 2010

Homeschooling Questions

Feel free to pipe up with your opinion, regardless of whether or not you're a homeschooler :)
  • What phonics system do you like the best? BB isn't quite old enough to read, but he is interested in how to spell words and I've started to teach him letter sounds. Part of me knows that I could probably manage to teach him to read without a pre-made system, but the teacher in me likes having something to follow.
  • While we're on the subject of phonics, is it really necessary to code those words? I learned how to read with ABeka phonics, and I taught my students with Saxon phonics. Both methods involve extensive coding. Now that I'm not required to code words, I'm wondering if it's really that important. My students would get so caught up in trying to remember all of the special symbols that they would forget to read the word. And let's face it - after you've covered the words with half a dozen pencil marks, it can be hard to even see the word you're supposed to read!
  • D'Nealian or Zaner Bloser? I learned the traditional way, which is pretty similar to Zaner Bloser. I taught D'Nealian, because that's what my school system required. I like the traditional way of teaching, so Zaner Bloser appeals to me. But I do admit that cursive seems like it would be easier to teach with D'Nealian.


  1. I have used A Beka for my oldest daughter for kindergarten. It has worked well for her, and she has a great concept of phonics. However, she has burned out quickly on the flash cards and constantly having to mark the vowels and special sounds. I know that my younger daughter would not do well with that approach.

    I have heard great things about Explode the Code. We are going to give that a try.

    I've also heard good things about the book Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, but I have never tried it personally.

    We are doing Traditional handwriting using A Reason for Handwriting. It's just personal preference, but I don't like the way the D'Nealian manuscript looks...

  2. Great post. I actually made my curriculum decision based on the phonics approach. Abeka uses the blending method (ba, be, bi, bo, bu) and Bob Jones (the one we chose) uses the word family approach (-at, -am, -and, etc). I personally think the latter approach is easier b/c it reinforces rhyming. Caleb also had some skills with this since his preschool used Zoo Phonics at age 4.

    Since we chose Bob Jones, they actually use a pre-cursive font (similar to DNealian I think), and it's supposedly makes the transition easier. We'll see sometime next year as we approach cursive writing. However, he had to re-learn his letters b/c his preschool used simple ball-and-stick letters.

    Hope schooling is still going well! We're trekking right along over here! :)

  3. I like Explode the Code. They have a great set of pre-reading books called Get Ready For the Code, Get Set For the Code, and Go For the Code. With Owen we have been doing a bit of experimenting with sight words. He knows his letter sounds so we use that to reinforce the words, but he learning LOTS of words just by looking at them. It is a good way to gratify a little one who might not be quite ready otherwise.

    By the way, I've never coded a word in my life and neither have my children. :-)

  4. I know in the Catholic realm, that book "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" is also routinely touted as a great book.

  5. I use Pathway phonics for my children. And they are avid readers now several age levels above normal. So I'm really happy with that curriculum.

  6. I used spalding phonics (Writing Road to Reading) growing up and it really worked for my family. I was pulled out of school and homeschooled because I was not learning how to read (they were using a sight reading program).

    When I did research last year, I leaned more towards the phonogram/spaulding approach. I chose a program called: Phonics for Reading and Spelling by Bonnie Dettmer. It is supposed to be Spalding made simple and is written specifically for homeschool parents. It teaches all of the letter and two letter phonogram's first and then progresses to teaching spelling words as the entry point for reading. My guy was getting so confused by all of the "exceptions" to the short vowel sounds or two letter phonograms, so this has been helpful to have a systematic way of introducing them.

    At your guys age, playing around with letter sounds is a great place to start. I have found that my guy has gone in waves. We started teaching how to read last summer when he turned 5) and he has weeks where he soaks it up and weeks where he doesn't want to touch it.

    Btw, I love the name of your blog. I hate being pinned down and tend to write about a hodgepodge of things too! :)

  7. I'm months behind this post, so it may be a mute point now, but I'll leave you with what I've used for my 3 older ones (now 14,12,9). I used 100 Easy Lessons for all of them. It got dry at some point, but we spiced it up with treats for each word, then line, then paragraph done right (treats being raisins :)). Afterwards, they all did Explode the Code starting about book 5/6, I think. With my last, I also used Phonics Pathways to beef her up a bit. The others never needed it.

    I went for 100 because it was simple and said they'd come out with about a 2nd grade reading level. All that for $20?! It was worth the dryness to me. I couldn't see spending hundreds of dollars on something much more complicated.

    As far as handwriting, there are many choices and beliefs. I did Italics because it looked the simplest to me. I liked the idea of A Reason For... for visual learners. I did their spelling for a while. I now have a disc that has many different styles on it that you can print off yourself with whatever words you want on it. You can determine the lines as well. I'd ask your boy what he likes as well. And look at his hand dexterity. I've heard Handwriting Without Tears is good for those having difficulty.



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