Phonics and Learning to Read – Part 1 – Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading

October 13, 2008

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Learning to read is a huge milestone in a child’s life and can be a source of much concern for parents, thus all the fancy (and expensive) reading and phonics programs on the market.  My third child in now an ‘early reader’ and my fourth is just learning his letter sounds.  We’ve used a variety of programs to teach reading, so I am starting a short series to highlight our favorite and most effective methods.

First is simply a book, The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading by Jessie Wise.  It is my favorite of all the phonics instruction books I’ve used, available for less than $20 on Amazon.  It is also in many libraries or can usually be requested.  We purchased our own copy after renewing the library’s copy four or five times. 

What I like:

  • The lessons are broken up into a page or two a day and are easy and short enough for the limited attention span of a young child.
  • The lessons start with vowels and then move on to the consonants.  Both are taught with fun rhymes that were easy for my kids to learn. 
  • The book doesn’t stop after the usual simple blends of “th” and “ch”, but goes all the way through ‘eigh’, ‘tion’, all the vowel combinations, and so on.  I was excited to finally find a phonics program that was complete.
  • The reading parts in the lesson for the child are in larger print which is easier for their young eyes to see.
  • There are lots of suggested game and activity ideas to supplement the lessons.
  • There is an second section in the back with lots of ideas for preparing, teaching, and presenting reading instruction to children.
  • The cost = about $20

What I don’t like

  • Some of the reading parts in the lessons can get a bit repetitive or arduous for the beginning reader.  But, in the true tradition of homeschool, we have skipped parts, or taken a few days to master a particularly difficult lesson.

Other posts in this series:

Do you have a favorite book that has helped you teach reading?  Please share with us in the comment section.  Thanks!

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Posted under Reading Curriculum


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  17. docmisty February 29, 2012 9:20 am

    That’s great Kat! I love hearing success stories. And with all the very expensive reading curriculum out there, it’s nice to know that it really doesn’t take that much money to get quality books to teach reading. Thanks for the comment! 🙂


  18. Kat February 29, 2012 8:27 am

    I’ve taught 4 children to read using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, MCP phonics workbooks, and reprinted readers from the 1950’s. All the big children love to go to the library and take time to read to their younger siblings.

  19. Steven Harper March 29, 2009 11:39 pm

    I have been using this book with my daughter. We are about half way through it. I am generally quite happy with it (but as my wife and I only have one child, I haven’t ever used anything else). I do have two criticisms, however.
    1) The font used for the child’s text is confusing–the lowercase L is the same as the uppercase I. My child has stumbled over this on numerous occasions.
    2) Sentences in the reading exercises sometimes contain words that have not been introduced yet. I wonder if this reflects careless writing and editing or if the chapters were rearranged after all the text had been written.


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