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Best phonics option for kid who's already reading?


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Hello! We are starting homeschooling in the fall with our 5yo (he'll be 6 in October). We did Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and finished before he turned 5, so he has been reading well (and LOVES it, so he reads all the time) for almost a year. We are starting him in Kindergarten but will use some grade 1 resources in certain subjects. I'm wondering which phonics resource would be best for him since he's already reading fluently (past the level 1 easy readers) but still has phonics principles to learn. Explode the Code? Reading Pathways seems like it might not be the best fit because he's already reading well, but maybe it would be a good fit? And maybe there are better ones that aren't in WTM book? Thank you for your help!

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I have tutored some kids who moved to Explode The Code after, but my own moved to the Elson Readers.  We went through the first few volumes a second time when starting Reading & Spelling Through Literature, which teaches the additional phonics and spelling rules beyond 100 Easy Lessons by using the stories in the first four Elson books.

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If your child is reading fluently, you might consider moving to a phonics based spelling program. My favorite, R&S Spelling, starts in second grade. You could use it half speed if you wanted, maybe just like half a page a day. Or wait a year and just keep having your child read out loud to you and help your child with any unfamiliar phonics. 

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You can use this Phonics Based Reading Test. to determine which phonics skills he should start on. Then use the Ultimate Phonics list to target exactly the phonic skills/patterns that he needs to work.

Invest in making sure that he can read the multi-syllable words fluently.

While you are doing the phonics, have him learn and practice handwriting. For handwriting we used the Kumon handwriting books and a few of those "Learning to Write" practice pads that you can get at the dollar tree.

We drilled the letters themselves and we also drilled the various letter combinations like vowel teams and digraphs, so that they get some speed writing those combos.

As his letter formation improves, you can have him write words from the UP List that he's reading and copy a few of the sentences each day.

Once he finishes the Ultimate Phonics list, he'll be a reader. Our young readers began working on spelling once their handwriting is fluid. We use Spelling by Sound and Structure 2-6.

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I've gone from 100EL to All About Spelling with our three sons. Each has very different academic strengths and learning styles but that progression has been successful each time. I'm now doing 100EL with our daughter and plan to start AAS once she's reading.

I hope you find a progression that works for you and your son!

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21 hours ago, 3MisMe said:

I've gone from 100EL to All About Spelling with our three sons. Each has very different academic strengths and learning styles but that progression has been successful each time. I'm now doing 100EL with our daughter and plan to start AAS once she's reading.

I hope you find a progression that works for you and your son!

Can I hear more about the different academic strengths? 🙂 I did 100EZ with both my kids; with DD8 I simply never had to do any spelling, because she's a wonderful visual speller. However, DD5 seems like she may need spelling instruction, so I'm looking around. 

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Not_a_Number, our first is just easy. He has grasped every concept without much struggle. He learned to read without drama, is a natural speller, understands math concepts, is grasping Latin with ease, etc. His biggest hurdle is he's a perfectionist and if learning something new requires a bit of effort, or he makes a careless mistake, he is sure he's stupid and falls apart. Academics are easy for him. His battle is with his emotions and self talk. 

Our second has to work for language arts. He's a fabulous reader but he has to put effort into spelling and has to actually learn and apply spelling rules. We sometimes have to go over spelling and grammar concepts a couple times before the concept and application sticks. He grasps math concepts well. He is confident and keeps his emotions bottled up. 

Our third struggles. He is 8 and just beginning to read. We did 100EL together and it was a bust. I tried two other programs; those also failed. We returned to 100EL and went slowly with added readers to give additional practice and keep things interesting. It's finally clicking. He also struggles to retain math concepts. He is also a perfectionist but shuts down when he's having a hard time. Progress is slow. He is an extremely kinesthetic kid. He likes to tinker and try to figure out how things work but doesn't give a hoot about academics. When he was six he told me he was, "perfectly fine growing up and being an adult who doesn't know how to read like the factory workers in the industrial revolution." That's when I realized that while it was pulling teeth to get him through his language arts and math, he was hearing, retaining, and processing all the history and science I was reading aloud to his older brothers. He still remembers their history and science better than they do and can orally describe science experiments and demonstrations with great detail. He's also finally accepted that illiteracy is not an option. I think his desire to read Nathan Hales Hazardous Tales, TinTin, and Calvin & Hobbes books have helped give him the needed motivation. 🙂

Our daughter is rearing to go. She's five but I'm intentionally holding her back. I know it won't harm her long term. Once we put her on the track and let go she'll take off. I felt, rather strongly, that her brother needed some space to get his academic feet under him, and development some confidence in his personal strengths, before she goes flying past him. I'm pretty confident she'll be reading fluently by Christmas. We'll see how she does with the spelling, grammar, and math. At this point she's known to give phonics, grammar, history, and science answers for them when they're slow to respond to my questions. 😛

That's a pretty long winded response to your question. Hopefully it makes sense and you can see what I mean by different academic strengths. 

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5 hours ago, Lovinglife123 said:

I love phonics pathways, for the picture book, some are read alouds and others are actual readers?  

The picture books are leveled 1.0 - 4.5 throughout the lessons (so they gradually increase in difficulty).  In the link I shared, the lady explained that she had used 100 easy lessons then started Phonics Pathways on page 48. She developed a 180 day lesson plan to finish the book. She also included a "reader" (picture book) with every lesson until PP was finished.  By the end of the Phonics Pathways lesson plans she developed, the level picture book the child is reading is between 4.0-4.5 grade level.  

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We have liked All About Spelling to fit that need. My oldest learned to read very early and reads a lot. She benefits from the program because it causes her to slow down and think about spelling as well as gives her more tools to pronounce unfamiliar words correctly. We studied basic phonics when she learned to read, but she leapfrogged ahead and so intuited rather than learned more advanced rules. I don't want it to be too obvious which vocabulary she got from reading silently, so I'm glad AAS is helping her fill in the blanks.

My second is more typical in his learning to read. AAS worked wonderfully for him by being an easy reinforcement of his reading. He's also been more typical in his attention span and ability to sit still, so the switching activities in AAS, plus the fact we do it standing up for the most part, has been super helpful. He actually memorizes the rules and applies them more consistently than his older sister.

My third is a beginning reader now. He longs for attention and consistent lessons, so when I saw All About Reading super cheap at a consignment sale, I picked up levels 1-3. He's breezing through the first level. It takes him about ten minutes to do a lesson, but he enjoys it. I may start him on AAS when he finishes AAR 1, but it will depend on how the juggling act of 3 school age kids plus a toddler works.

Edited by Xahm
Typos make it look like I need a spelling program
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11 hours ago, 3MisMe said:

Not_a_Number, our first is just easy. He has grasped every concept without much struggle. He learned to read without drama, is a natural speller, understands math concepts, is grasping Latin with ease, etc. His biggest hurdle is he's a perfectionist and if learning something new requires a bit of effort, or he makes a careless mistake, he is sure he's stupid and falls apart. Academics are easy for him. His battle is with his emotions and self talk. 

Our second has to work for language arts. He's a fabulous reader but he has to put effort into spelling and has to actually learn and apply spelling rules. We sometimes have to go over spelling and grammar concepts a couple times before the concept and application sticks. He grasps math concepts well. He is confident and keeps his emotions bottled up. 

Our third struggles. He is 8 and just beginning to read. We did 100EL together and it was a bust. I tried two other programs; those also failed. We returned to 100EL and went slowly with added readers to give additional practice and keep things interesting. It's finally clicking. He also struggles to retain math concepts. He is also a perfectionist but shuts down when he's having a hard time. Progress is slow. He is an extremely kinesthetic kid. He likes to tinker and try to figure out how things work but doesn't give a hoot about academics. When he was six he told me he was, "perfectly fine growing up and being an adult who doesn't know how to read like the factory workers in the industrial revolution." That's when I realized that while it was pulling teeth to get him through his language arts and math, he was hearing, retaining, and processing all the history and science I was reading aloud to his older brothers. He still remembers their history and science better than they do and can orally describe science experiments and demonstrations with great detail. He's also finally accepted that illiteracy is not an option. I think his desire to read Nathan Hales Hazardous Tales, TinTin, and Calvin & Hobbes books have helped give him the needed motivation. 🙂

Our daughter is rearing to go. She's five but I'm intentionally holding her back. I know it won't harm her long term. Once we put her on the track and let go she'll take off. I felt, rather strongly, that her brother needed some space to get his academic feet under him, and development some confidence in his personal strengths, before she goes flying past him. I'm pretty confident she'll be reading fluently by Christmas. We'll see how she does with the spelling, grammar, and math. At this point she's known to give phonics, grammar, history, and science answers for them when they're slow to respond to my questions. 😛

That's a pretty long winded response to your question. Hopefully it makes sense and you can see what I mean by different academic strengths. 

Yes, thank you! That's a helpful description. 

What made AAS a good follow-up to 100EZ for your different kids? 🙂 

Edited by Not_a_Number
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Two of my kids were similar and finished 100 EZ Lessons at 4-5yo. We didn't do anything afterward beyond reading whatever they wanted from the library and later copywork and then dictations. One turns out to be dyslexic (yes, truly, even though he read very young), and I really wish we'd jumped straight into a phonics-based spelling program after finishing 100EZ. I don't think it would have mattered much which spelling program as long as it was phonics-based. If I had a do-over I'd do that with both of them, actually. We eventually did spelling, but it would have been much better to start right away.

Another of my kids already knew how to read when I pulled out 100 EZ Lessons at 4yo to teach him. (Surprise!) I had him read through all of the decodable readers in a mainstream program (Sing, Spell, Read, and Write -- because I had them) just to make sure there weren't any holes and then took him through Wise Owl Polysyllables, which is *not* phonics-based but teaches to break longer words into syllables to sound them out. His spelling naturally developed alongside his decoding and with copywork such that I never directly taught him spelling. This approach wouldn't have worked for my older two who really did/do need explicit spelling instruction.

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On 7/15/2021 at 5:27 PM, Cake and Pi said:

Two of my kids were similar and finished 100 EZ Lessons at 4-5yo. We didn't do anything afterward beyond reading whatever they wanted from the library and later copywork and then dictations. One turns out to be dyslexic (yes, truly, even though he read very young), and I really wish we'd jumped straight into a phonics-based spelling program after finishing 100EZ.

How did you figure out he was dyslexic? What were the signs? 

 

On 7/15/2021 at 5:27 PM, Cake and Pi said:

I don't think it would have mattered much which spelling program as long as it was phonics-based. If I had a do-over I'd do that with both of them, actually. We eventually did spelling, but it would have been much better to start right away.

What were the issues with not starting spelling right away? 

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1 hour ago, Not_a_Number said:

How did you figure out he was dyslexic? What were the signs?

DS#2's oral reading was qualitatively... different. He'd skip words and say words that weren't there, pulling in words from the lines above and/or below. He'd substitute words with synonyms (e.g. book said "angry" but DS#2 read "furious") or change the order of words. If I covered up all but the line he was reading, he'd keep going past the end of the line even before I'd uncovered the next. Essentially, he was predicting the text and saying what he expected without reading everything. He was missing a lot of the actual words, but he was able to compensate by being familiar with writing patterns and by having a very wide and deep knowledge base. This worked for him with longer passages and books. He aced reading comprehension for these kinds of things and tested at a 5th-6th grade reading level in kindergarten. However, I saw things break down with shorter passages, written instructions, and especially in *math*. It's hard to get a word problem correct when you miss-read a quarter or more of the words! As you know, changing the order of a few words in a story problem can change everything about the math involved.

And even though school said he was reading so well in K, they measured almost no reading growth after that. When I pulled him to homeschool half-way through 5th grade, the school asserted that he was reading at an early 7th grade level. Interestingly, when I had him tested privately the following month, the psych found his reading comprehension to be12th grade level and his reading fluency to be 1st grade level.

Originally I attributed the things I was noticing to his young age. He started reading at 3yo, whereas my older kiddo didn't read until he was almost 5. I thought perhaps I'd forgotten about DS#1 going through a similar stage or maybe he skipped the stage because he was older when he started reading. Then we found out that DS#2 needed glasses at 4yo and I thought that explained everything. We saw a big jump in his reading level after he got his glasses, but the differences remained. Then when DS#2 was around 6yo, then-4yo DS#3 started reading aloud and *didn't* do any of the odd things DS#2 did. DS#3 quickly outpaced DS#2 in his reading ability. That's when I started to feel really concerned. I tried talking to school about it. They blew off my concerns and said I didn't know what a real learning problem looked like (They obviously didn't know I had DS#4 with an IEP already, lol.), but I wasn't going to let it go. Very long story on the testing, but he was eventually diagnosed with dyslexia, dysgraphia, ADHD, anxiety, and PG, which explains a whole lot of the big picture we see with him.

2 hours ago, Not_a_Number said:

What were the issues with not starting spelling right away? 

When I pulled DS#2 to homeschool half-way through 5th grade, he couldn't spell spin (public school doesn't do spelling beyond 2nd grade here). His difficulty with spelling made it so he couldn't get his thoughts out on paper. He had big ideas but got too frustrated when he tried to write because he couldn't spell the words he wanted to use, so he gave up and refused to write just about anything. His difficulty with spelling ended up holding him back in other seemingly-unrelated subjects, so I've had to do quite a bit of remediation in everything to do with written language. I've had him home for a year and a half now, and he's making wonderful progress, but this would have been so much easier if we'd been working on it all along.

My DS#1 was always homeschooled; I just didn't prioritize spelling. I first started him in a spelling program in 4th grade, and that was really too late. He needed to start near the beginning, but many programs seemed too babyish to him. By mid-way through 7th grade he was most of the way through Sequential Spelling 4 and was OVER spelling. He felt he was too old to do spelling, and it was cutting into time that he wanted to spend on more advanced/complex language arts instruction. If we'd started when he was younger, I could have gotten more spelling instruction in before I lost his buy-in.

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41 minutes ago, Cake and Pi said:

DS#2's oral reading was qualitatively... different. He'd skip words and say words that weren't there, pulling in words from the lines above and/or below. He'd substitute words with synonyms (e.g. book said "angry" but DS#2 read "furious") or change the order of words. If I covered up all but the line he was reading, he'd keep going past the end of the line even before I'd uncovered the next. Essentially, he was predicting the text and saying what he expected without reading everything. He was missing a lot of the actual words, but he was able to compensate by being familiar with writing patterns and by having a very wide and deep knowledge base. This worked for him with longer passages and books. He aced reading comprehension for these kinds of things and tested at a 5th-6th grade reading level in kindergarten. However, I saw things break down with shorter passages, written instructions, and especially in *math*. It's hard to get a word problem correct when you miss-read a quarter or more of the words! As you know, changing the order of a few words in a story problem can change everything about the math involved.

That sounds kind of like DD5. She is a champion predictive reader, but we spent something like 2 months learning the difference between b and d -- and I mean with intensive practice, not incidentally. Mind you, in context, she could read very hard words with b's and d's, because she could always figure it out from the meaning. The word can't be "bifference," you now? 😉 She'd also read letters and sometimes words out of order. 

I found the predictive reading incredibly difficult to foil. We did a whole year of nonsense words, sloooowly learning new letter combinations. It was VERY different than teaching DD8 to read, who finished 100 EZ Lessons and just took off from there. 

We're taking a break from the phonics with DD5, and I'm wondering if I need to jump back in sometime soon, lol. Hence my presence on this thread... having a break has been VERY nice, but I've recently realized she's again forgotten what sound 'ai' makes, and she's again only distinguishing 'ai' and 'ia" from context, so we may have to pick it back up. But I don't know if I should come back to nonsense words (which I made up to work on whatever she was having trouble with and were tremendously successful) or if I should do something like a spelling program... 

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A lot of kids move on to All About Reading 2 after completing 100 Easy Lessons. Here are samples for all the levels if you want to see what it looks like. At the end of AAR 4, students have the phonics and word attack skills necessary to sound out high school level words, though they may not know the meaning of all higher level words. (Word attack skills include things like dividing words into syllables, making analogies to other words, sounding out the word with the accent on different word parts, recognizing affixes, etc…)

You can check the placement tests to see what level your son is ready for if you decide to go with that one. I hope you find something that's a good fit for you & your child! 

Edited by MerryAtHope
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21 hours ago, MerryAtHope said:

A lot of kids move on to All About Reading 2 after completing 100 Easy Lessons. Here are samples for all the levels if you want to see what it looks like. At the end of AAR 4, students have the phonics and word attack skills necessary to sound out high school level words, though they may not know the meaning of all higher level words. (Word attack skills include things like dividing words into syllables, making analogies to other words, sounding out the word with the accent on different word parts, recognizing affixes, etc…)

You can check the placement tests to see what level your son is ready for if you decide to go with that one. I hope you find something that's a good fit for you & your child! 

Huh. I looked through this, and it doesn't really seem to follow 100 EZ in an easy way -- many things from 100 EZ are covered again: some early on, and some way later. Why do people find this a good sequence? 

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Once he's reading well on a second grade level, REWARDS Intermediate is a great way to help kids learn to tackle multisyllabic words.  I used it with my younger son who read early and well and he loved it (I used it for the first time while remediating my older son's dyslexia).

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Phonics Pathways and OPG go to a 4th grade level. Word Mastery, free from Don Potter, goes to a 3rd grade level.


http://donpotter.net/pdf/word_mastery_typed.pdf

My syllables lessons are free and go to a 12th grade level and include some spelling. Not a complete program, but teaches you how to use Webster's Speller, if you use all the 2+ syllable words in the complete Webster's Speller after you could be good.

http://thephonicspage.org/On Reading/syllablesspellsu.html

You could also try the old Open Court, it goes to a pretty high level, I'm not sure what exactly, and starts with long vowels, you start with the blue and orange workbooks. It's a good follow on because it starts with long vowels instead of short vowels. It was also meant to be started in 1st grade, not K, and has 2 syllable words early on.

http://wigowsky.com/school/opencourt/opencourt.htm

Edited by ElizabethB
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On 7/22/2021 at 3:06 PM, Not_a_Number said:

Huh. I looked through this, and it doesn't really seem to follow 100 EZ in an easy way -- many things from 100 EZ are covered again: some early on, and some way later. Why do people find this a good sequence? 

It might not always be a fit, but kids who need it get more fluency practice, so the review helps and they get new content too. AAR takes kids up to high school level word attack skills, so it goes farther. Anyway, lots of good choices out there!

Edited by MerryAtHope
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