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Yes Phonics, Phonics Road, Writing Road to Reading


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I've been reading a lot of posts on here about the Spalding method and have become intrigued. From what most people have been saying, it takes a lot of work! Others have mentioned Yes Phonics and the Phonics Road to Spelling and Reading. SO...I'm wondering about your experiences with these...especially Yes Phonics. I have been searching the internet and haven't been able to find many reviews. It's supposed to cover up to grade 3, so would in the end be cheaper than the Phonics Road, but $300 is still a lot to drop on something I haven't seen!! I would love to hear from users of any of these 3 programs to find out how you "do" it!

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Hi! I'm probably the one you've seen promoting YesPhonics (along with Hunter in older posts). I was leary of buying it too without having seen it. But I ended up feeling it was worth it because of the video and coloring sheets that would really enhance the phonograms. And after I had ordered I found the link for the samples and they were great. The video was sent free as the first lesson. It is boring, but it works! The pictures aren't beautiful, but they work! We watch it together every morning (in fact, I think they are finishing it up now). Even my 3 three old is now learning the phonograms. I really like the way manuscript is taught with a 4 point circle instead of a clockface. I think it is easier for them to understand. The rules are worded very closely to SWR and since I like the idea of drilling the rules I bought the SWR cards to use with YesPhonics (but it isn't necessary if you don't want to drill the rules). The worksheets are laid out very clearly and the sequence is easier to follow. There is less explanation and instruction to wade through and I read through the whole manual (skimming the lesson plans for the worksheets) in one night, whereas I think it took me a month to prepare for Spell to Write and Read. I make copies of the coloring pages as we go along. They have learned the first 40 phonograms in a few weeks so far (talking of my oldest 3 ages 6-11, though so far most of it is review). They are getting it more quickly than before, though they didn't think so at first. At first they thought it was annoying to learn the picture too, but I'm seeing already how it is paying off with the multi-letter phonograms. I like how they've paired similar ones next to each other.


I've counted about 106 lessons when you put it all together (including learning about 4 phonograms per day) and that means it could be done in one year. For my younger ones when they get to the ending poing for their grade level I will just stop and make sure they have mastered their phonograms, rules, and word lists for that grade level and completed all the worksheets. Then we will pick up where we left off the next year. I think they can easily be done early into third grade (if not before) and then I think we'll just do the SWR cds for review and independent practice, but again, that is just my extra idea.


So I haven't used it very long and I don't know anyone else who does, but I am really liking it so far. The only thing I would like better is if CC would make their own program. I am using it with 7 kids (eventually) so the price for me is worth it, especially since it lasts for three-four years of instruction or as little as one if need be in the case of my oldest.


I still like the McCall books that WRTR promotes for reading comprehension so I have a set of those we use daily. And I still like the literature list in WRTR by grade level so we are still using that. But for the rest of the implementation I think YesPhonics is easier and I like the extra picture and worksheet components in it. I love that they can do the video or cd independently. It only takes me a few minutes to drill the phonograms with them daily. We haven't started the lists yet so I'll fill you in when we get there, but I think the directions are basically the same as in WRTR.


Like Hunter said, I have NO idea why it isn't more popular. The reason I like it better than LOE and AAS so far is that I think it introduces the phonograms much faster than they did. And SWR also introduces them pretty quickly but somehow that program made me feel bogged down and our daily lessons took forever. Also, without the pictures and captions it was harder for my daughter to distinguish between them (but she has learning issues). Also, the LOE lessons took a long time and the AAS had so many levels to it that it would end up being expensive and I want them to be mostly done with their instruction by the end of third grade and just review after that with dictation and review tests without having to do any more real teaching because in 4th-6th I want to focus on writing and grammar.


If you have any questions I'd be happy to answer them or you can email the author. He is very friendly and thoroughly answered my questions......

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Regarding Spalding, I strongly recommend that you get the older 4th Edition of The Writing Road to Reading somewhere and go through it thoroughly before starting. It's much clearer, and a much easier read, than the 5th Edition. (I haven't read the recently-issued 6th edition, by the way.) About 80% of the 4th edition consists of Spalding's listing of the Ayres words along with her notes on each word. The beginning 20% is Spalding explaining her program, and it's a lot, lot, easier read than the 5th edition (which was put together by a committee following her death, and is filled with curriculum details that a classroom teacher/administrator would find useful, plus a couple of useful indices to enable you to locate particular words in the Ayres list.) Used copies of the 4th edition are available on Amazon.


I think the toughest part of Spalding's curriculum would be getting your child to sit down and go through the first several weeks of learning letter formation, and learning the first 50 or so phonograms, as she instructs you to do. It's a no-nonsense curriculum in that regard. No overt "fun and games." The fun and games of Spalding is real reading of good literature, and real writing with accurate spelling. Mistakes are corrected and inventive spelling isn't encouraged. In fact, it's discouraged. But wherever it's been used by school systems, those students have performed one or two years ahead of their peers in other schools.


Furthermore, Spalding teaches phonograms that way they should be taught. Each phonogram is introduced along with all of the common sounds it represents. Just the common sounds though, not the occasional odd ones that are scattered through English words.


So, if I were you, I wouldn't be turned off by the difficulty of Spalding. As I said, the biggest "difficulty" is likely to be getting through the first month or so of lessons. If you establish a no-nonsense learning environment, then it's doable, but not everyone can successfully do that with their own child. If schooltime is for learning and playtime is for playing, you're probably on the right track. If it's hard to tell playtime from schooltime in your house, that would be another matter.


By the way, I've done a lot of work with the Spalding curriculum over the years, though I've not used it directly with a child. Instead, I put together a remedial program for struggling readers that resembles Spalding in many ways. (And I did use my remedial program successfully with nearly 200 struggling readers over a decade or so.) While putting together my own program, I drew some conclusions about changes that I would make to the Spalding curriculum if I were to implement it. The one change that I believe any American parent (parents in other English-speaking countries might be another matter) would be how to handle the /ee/ sound at the end of words like happy, collie, and valley. I discuss the simple changes on the page The Easiest Change on my website. Once you get there, you'll see that it's not the only change I would make.


My remedial program uses ending digraphs, like ge, ce, le, etc., rather than Spalding's five rules for the ending-e, which adds modestly to the total phonograms that need to be taught, but most of them are endings, are easy to learn, and aren't needed early on.


More important, while designing my program I devised a multisyllable decoding method that worked unbelievably well even with struggling readers. It quickly trained them to stop guessing and decode, and as you probably know, training away a bad habit (guessing) is a challenge. I found that it would be easy to revise Spalding and incorporate my multisyllable method just by breaking the words apart differently than she does (she breaks them by syllables.)


So, to make a long story a bit shorter, I put it all on my website as the OnTrack Reading Homeschooling Program, available free to anyone who wants to try it. (I do offer an 84-phonogram printable flash card set at a very modest charge, but the first 30 are there as a free download and all 84 can be viewed at the publisher's site.) All you need is the 4th edition of WRTR and the basic materials she requires (notebook, pencils, etc.)


Regardless of whether you modify Spalding in the way I suggest or not, I do think it's one of the best-designed reading programs ever written, in that it teaches exactly the material that needs to be taught in a straightforward manner, and gets kids into real literature almost immediately. It's well worth the initial effort that has to be put into it to teach it correctly. And even if you don't end up using Spalding, it's worth knowing how reading should be taught. It's just too bad it isn't used in every school in the country.

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Honestly, YesPhonics is so close to Spalding that I don't see the point in doing it instead of Spalding, especially when you can buy the manual and the phonogram flash cards for less than $40 and you're set for life (except for a spelling notebook each year for each child).

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Thank you so much for your thorough responses! I have already ordered WRTR, 4 ed. I hope it gets here soon so I can read through it! Thank you so much, Rod, I will definitely check out your program. I will also check out the sample lessons for Yes Phonics. My daughter is only 5, so it's not super urgent, but I want to "get on" this as soon as I can...your responses will definitely help me in making a decision.

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