Teaching my children to read is one of my favorite parts about homeschooling. I love the look of joy and amazement on their little faces when they sound out their first word and read that first sentence. Those are truly priceless moments and it’s during those times that a realize just how blessed I am to be able to homeschool my kids.
Up until recently, I had just kind of pieced together a reading program for my kids which has worked out well for us. Combining workbooks with hands-on activities, games, and crafts seemed to be the key for us.
I was recently given the opportunity to try out a more structured, formal approach to teaching phonics by reviewing Samuel L. Blumenfeld’s tried-and-true Alpha-Phonics.
For the purpose of my review, I received:
- Alpha-Phonics spiral-bound textbook with CD-ROM – $34.95
- Alpha-Phonics & How To Tutor Phonics Workbook – $19.95
- Alpha-Phonics & How To Tutor Little Companion Readers – $24.95
Alpha-Phonics provides comprehensive phonics instruction in a straightforward, ‘no frills, no nonsense’ manner. The textbook includes 128 lessons and a teacher’s manual with lesson plans is provided at the back of the book. I found that flipping back and forth between teacher’s manual at the back of the book and the lessons at the front was a little inconvenient. I would have much rather had a separate book with the lesson plans in it.
The teacher’s manual starts out with a lengthy introduction about our alphabetic system, teaching the alphabet, teaching letter sounds, isolating letter sounds and offers some practical suggestions. The lesson plans in the teacher’s manual section are very short and to the point.
The Alpha-Phonics spiral-bound textbook now comes with a CD-ROM at no additional cost. You can choose to use the CD-ROM with your Alpha-Phonics book, by itself, or not at all. The CD-ROM is virtually the text book on the computer and offers both spoken and printed instructions. There is also no keyboarding involved; the student only needs to use the mouse. We played around with the CD-ROM a bit, but I much prefer to keep learning off the computer as much as possible during the early years, so we focused our attention on the physical textbook.
Before beginning this phonics program, your child should have a solid grasp of the letter sounds, for in the very first lesson they will start reading words by blending sounds. And by lesson 3, they will begin reading sentences. The lessons progress through the consonant and short vowel sounds, consonant digraphs, syllables, contractions, consonant blends, long vowel sounds all the way through to silent letters, vowel digraphs, and much more. Alpha-Phonics teaches 44 different sounds for the letters of the alphabet and teaches basic phonics rules.
There is no written work in the lessons alone; the written work comes in with the companion workbook which can be used to reinforce the lessons. It was nice to have the option of adding in written work to the lessons, but I wish there was an optional worksheet for each lesson. There was only written work after certain lessons or for a certain group of lessons. It would have been even easier to incorporate the written work if it were written into the lesson plans instead of having to jump over to the workbook to see if there was a worksheet for that lesson or not.
I felt the same way about the companion readers. I wish they were scheduled into the lesson plans; instead there was a little ‘cheat sheet’ taped into the front of the first book letting you know which lessons each book goes with. Each companion reader is simply several pieces of regular-sized paper folded in half with a piece of card stock folded around the outside for the cover and stapled in the middle. In my (frugal) opinion, they are not worth the price mentioned above.
The Alpha-Phonics curriculum does not add in pictures that might be a distraction for some children or that might help the child read by giving them ‘clues.’ The lessons require teacher involvement but absolutely no prep work.
From our experience, this program works. My 6-year-old daughter did well with the program and definitely advanced her reading capabilities. However, we are a frilly family; we like adding in hands-on activities, games, and pictures. My children thrive on that sort of thing. And while Alpha-Phonics has many great aspects (no prep work, short, straight-forward lessons, & proven track record), it just wasn’t the right fit for our family. I will be keeping this program on my bookshelf though, because each child learns differently, and since I still have three coming up the reading ranks in the future, I want to keep it as an option.
Are you interested in seeing if Alpha-Phonics would be a good fit for your family? Use the Rafflecopter below to enter for your chance to win all 3 items that I reviewed:
Giveaway ends 2/14 at 11:59pm EST. Selected winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email to claim their prize or another winner will be drawn.