The OnTrack Reading Phonics Program that I created and have used successfully with nearly 200 clients of varying ages, most of whom had previously struggled with learning to read, is now available to be used by both parents and reading instructors. The program teaches: the phonics skills of blending, segmenting, and phoneme manipulation; the bulk of the English phonics code; and an exceptionally effective strategy for decoding unfamiliar multisyllable words.
The entire program consists of two coil-bound books: 1) the OnTrack Reading Phonics Program Instruction Manual which describes, in detail, how to implement the curriculum, and 2) the OnTrack Reading Advanced Code Phonics Workbook, a one-time-use workbook for the student. Both books are required. The cost of the program, consisting of the two books, is quite reasonable and includes Free Shipping in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and the UK. Additional workbooks can be ordered the same way. Just reduce the counter on the Instruction Manual to zero and order only the workbook(s). Note that Free Shipping doesn't apply if only one workbook is ordered separately.
Description of the Phonics Program Instruction Manual
The 49-page instruction manual describes, in detail, how I use the workbook with my own clients. It is required if you are to use the workbook correctly. In it you'll find Basic Instructions for each worksheet type, Special Instructions for specific worksheets, Pacing Notes to guide you through the four threads of the workbook, and other Notes that usually just explain why certain curriculum choices were made.
Three appendices in the instruction manual will guide you through:
- Initial testing of your student (if you choose to test)
- Training the essential skill of phoneme manipulation
- Making error corrections properly
Also included is a suggested path through the workbook to guide parents using it only one time with a child. Instructors/tutors using the program several times over can use the guide as a starting point, then vary it depending upon the capabilities of their students.
Using the Advanced Code Phonics Workbook
The 170-page workbook, used according to the instruction manual, is a complete advanced code phonics program. It does require adult guidance throughout because errors need to be caught and corrected as they occur. It is not a workbook intended to be used independently to practice phonics. The adult, whether a parent, tutor or trained reading instructor, should use the detailed instructions in the instruction manual to guide the student through each page of the workbook.
A trained instructor can usually get a student through the entire program in about twenty hours of one-on-one instruction, but that assumes that a parent is attending enough sessions to be able to correctly oversee the homework phase of the program. The homework phase should take the student another twenty or so hours to complete, plus any additional time spent practicing reading in appropriate literature. A tutor or instructor who needs to also oversee the homework phase will probably take about forty hours to complete the program.
Parents working with their child will be serving as both instructors (while doing the initial instruction) and overseers of homework (during which the child practices the material learned during the initial instruction.) Conceivably, one parent could do the initial instruction and the other could oversee the homework. Children working with parents should be able to complete the workbook, including homework, in fifty or sixty hours of one-on-one instruction.
Contents of the Workbook
There are four distinct parts to the workbook, called Threads. They are:
Common advanced code consonant digraphs such as sh, ch, th, ck, etc.
Comprehensive advanced code vowel spellings such as oi, oy, ea, ue, and ough.
Comprehensive advanced code consonant digraphs such as the j, g, ge, dge, and dg spellings of the /j/ sound. (Examples: just, gym, large, badge, and budget)
A simple, but highly effective, strategy for decoding unfamiliar long words.
At various times a student can be progressing through as many as three of the threads during a single session. This enables a parent or instructor to vary the material offered in a way that helps to hold the student's interest throughout the session.
The OnTrack Reading Phonics Program is not a Basic Code program. That is, it isn't to be used to teach a child the first steps of reading, such as the sounds associated with individual consonant letters like t, b, s, m, etc., nor should it be used to introduce a child to blending simple sounds and recognizing the resultant words. That said, most children now get at least a rudimentary exposure to phonics in school, often even in preschool. Essentially, if your child has had some basic phonics instruction and can decode words like cat, stop, hand, and trip with reasonable consistency, he should be ready to learn the advanced code covered in the workbook.
A Cautionary Note
If your child has already failed to learn to read well using one or more different phonics programs, then I highly recommend that you read Understanding the Dyslexia Puzzle here on my site, paying special attention to the vision information you'll find there. It's entirely possible that your next step should be a visit to a developmental optometrist in your area, instead of simply purchasing another phonics program and hoping it will be successful.
Based on my experience, it's quite possible that if your child is experiencing difficulty learning to read, he might have undiagnosed vision problems. Those problems can sometimes be corrected with vision therapy after which many good phonics programs are likely to work, including ones you might already have tried. You might even find that the previous phonics instruction was effective, but was not being used by your child until vision therapy first corrected underlying vision issues.
The next page, Phonics Workbook Expectations, describes the areas in which you should see improvement when using the OnTrack Reading Phonics Program.