... On Reading (my thoughts, hopes and fears)


First of all, my children are Tyler (stepson, age 9) and Robbie (turned 3 last week). That should make posting easier on me. No more nicknames. Secondly, these are my thoughts on how we are or I feel we should be doing things. Just because someone goes about things differently doesn't mean either of us is wrong. We're all trying to do what works best for our children, right?

Well, I thought I'd weigh in on what we've accomplished up to this point.. what's worked, what hasn't, habits I'd love to foster and those I'd like to avoid, plans for the future, etc.

The first thing I'd like to say is that I NEVER thought I'd be teaching phonics to a 2.5 year old. It wasn't in the plan. He just turned 3 last week and now I can't imagine not doing it. I suppose he knows better than I do (at least in this area).

In case you haven't noticed, we're trying to stay as pure with our phonics instruction as possible. Robbie has not been taught a single sight word yet (and we're trying to keep it that way). I have yet to understand why a child who is supposedly learning to sound out words would need to memorize lists which include these words:


I have only included those words that are the most basic of basic phonetically. Why must these be learned by sight??

As Robbie progresses with his reading, I hope to be able to explain the words that use new or unusual phonics rules to him using those very rules.

Phonics Pathways has been working wonderfully in our home. I really can't say enough great things about it. I've had to adapt my plan of attack because Robbie defies the conventional rules for a child of his age. He doesn't like lessons with letter tiles ($$$ well-spent, eh?) or on the white board. He prefers to read directly out of the book. (He does, however, like to "build" his own words with the tiles or write them on his HWT slate.)

I'm dropping Explode the Code. I am not a fan of word families and this program (so far) is really based upon families. Robbie sees the pattern immediately and stops reading phonetically. He is able to guess all the words by simply looking at the first letter, which is EXACTLY what I DON'T want him to do. I can also see how this method can easily fall apart when approaching multi-syllable words. He doesn't seem to need this extra practice anyway and he has enjoyed what we've done in ETC so far, so I only feel guilt about the money I spent on the workbook.

I have a copy of Pyramid Reading (now called Reading Pathways), which is a supplement to Phonics Pathways. We will be starting that very soon.

I also have the 1879 McGuffey Primer printed out (larger than the real book.. full notebook size) and in a binder. I'd love for him to work his way through the entire 1879 McGuffey series as his actual reading program (well-beyond phonics), which will take years, of course. He really wants to start on the primer, but I'm waiting until we finish our second time through the "Eyerobics" section in Phonics Pathways. (I only did this section over because I felt that we were progressing too fast and I wanted to ensure that he had a true understanding. He doesn't mind, so that's good. It has made his blending more fluid, as well.)

As far as phonetic readers, we have Bob Books, Nora Gaydos readers and a few odds and ends (all of these were either donated to us or picked up dirt cheap at our local used book store).

I'm in no hurry. To be perfectly honest, I'm a bit nervous about moving beyond short vowels. I guess I just want him to hang out with the short vowels until they're second nature... or until he forces me to move forward.

I hope to one day add in All About Spelling because I love how it teaches the rules so thoroughly and sequentially. Perhaps next year... if he will let me use the stinking tiles!

Overall, I'm elated with our choices and his progress. I'm a little scared of what the future holds, but with God's help and the advice and wisdom of my online homeschool friends, I know I can do this.

Well, if you've managed to make it this far, you deserve a prize. Unfortunately, all you get is a chance to move on and read something much more interesting. :)


  1. Just whatever you do... don't be surprised if he starts reading Bob books next week... and then pick up Level 2 readers the following. ;-) I too never dreamed I'd be doing what I'm doing with my girls... but as you said... they know better than we do!

    I like the E.T.C books but I make her read each and every word instead of using guess work. I'm very o.c.d. and like their systematic approach.

  2. My son is 3.5. He knows the letters and sounds. What is my next step. You mention how much you love Phonics Pathways. Would that be my next step? Thanks
    curlyboom at yahoo dot com

  3. We didn't follow any curriculum. We just read and read and read to her. I think once they found a book they want to read on their own, they find a way. Our daughter has no patience for phonics or any kind of formal instruction for that matter. She just memorizes words so I didn't have to teach sight words either. Somehow she picked it up from the reading. I've learned that their brains are capable of a lot more than we give them credit.


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