Choosing the Right Phonics Program

Two Phonics Program Choices: One is Free; The Other is Quite Affordable

You have two choices to pick from when you try the OnTrack Reading Phonics Program. The first covers multisyllable decoding and is available absolutely free here on the website. The second, a more comprehensive program, includes the multisyllable work, but also teaches the fundamental code knowledge that every child should know if he is to become a proficient reader.

Deciding on the Free Phonics Program

If your child's primary difficulty with reading is the way he approaches multisyllable words, perhaps by guessing at them, or leaving off endings, or even skipping them completely, then you should try the free program available here on my website. All you will need to do is follow the instructions to make sure that he understands what is meant by a vowel sound, then do a few exercises so he recognizes certain markers when he encounters them in a word, and then work your way through the program sequentially. Using the OnTrack Reading Multisyllable Method, your child should very rapidly begin to understand that he is able to figure out most of the multisyllable words he has been either guessing at, confusing with other words, or simply skipping over in the past.

Where's the Free Multisyllable Phonics Program?

Just go to the OnTrack Reading Multisyllable Method to get started. All of the instructions, worksheets and word lists are right there, free on the site for you to use. You'll find that it's the best reading curriculum available for quickly teaching a child how to successfully attack unfamiliar multisyllable words.

Deciding to Purchase the Advanced Code Phonics Workbook

The second option is to purchase a complete advanced code phonics program packaged in the form of the the OnTrack Reading Advanced Code Phonics Workbook. But when should you go that route?

The most difficult part of teaching a child to read words in the English language doesn't lie in the longer words. Instead, the real difficulty arises with the short, one-syllable words. The English alphabetic code is extremely complex compared to the alphabetic code in many other languages primarily because English borrowed words, along with their spellings, from so many languages over the centuries. The result is that a young child, to become a proficient reader, has to learn far more material to reliably read one-syllable words accurately, compared to, say, a Spanish, French, or Italian child.

Take, for example, the digraph ou in a word like soul. First, your child has to know that it represents one sound, the /oe/ sound, not two sounds. Next, he has to understand that it's the /oe/ sound in soul, but that it can also be the /u/ sound in touch, the /oo/ sound in tour, and the /ow/ sound in couch. And if he knows all that, he also has to realize that soul and sole are words that sound the same, but in which he has to spell the /oe/ sound differently to be writing the correct one.

In short, the English alphabetic code is quite a mess. This has caused mass confusion when it comes to curriculum design, along with an ongoing phonics versus whole language battle that will probably never end; it will just cycle through the years as it has for the past century or more.

So, the question is why not go with the free option? And the answer is another question: Does your child know the English alphabetic code well enough to take advantage of the multisyllable method, or will he be confused because he hasn't had sufficient reading instruction to be comfortable with the advanced code? That's the question you need to answer before deciding.

How Do I Tell If My Child Knows Enough Phonics?

If you're not sure, consider administering the Phonics Assessment Tests available on this site, especially the Code Knowledge Test. That will tell you whether your child understands the English code well enough to succeed without having to go through the workbook.

If your child struggles to read simple one-syllable and two-syllable words, or if he is uncomfortable with words containing vowel digraphs like ow, ou, ea, ie, oy, oi, etc., then he probably should go the workbook route.

What Does the Workbook Involve?

The OnTrack Reading Advanced Code Phonics Workbook has been used by the author in one-on-one instruction with hundreds of struggling readers. Each of the lessons in the workbook have been fine-tuned for maximum effectiveness and ease of presentation. It is one of the fastest, most effective, and certainly least expensive, advanced code phonics programs available today.

How Fast?

As little as six weeks. If you follow the instructions provided and are well-organized when you begin each lesson, one hour per day for six to eight weeks (30-40 hours) should be sufficient to finish the workbook, and that includes the multisyllable work as well.

How Effective?

See the page titled Phonics Workbook Expectations to learn what sort of progress to expect in each area tested. You can gauge your child's progress with the Phonics Assessment Tests.

How Inexpensive?

Put it this way. You'll have plenty of money left over to purchase excellent children's literature. The workbook is just $22.50 plus shipping from, and the comprehensive instructions can be downloaded free from the next page on this site.

The next page also has information on where to get the workbook as well as steps you need to take to begin teaching the phonics program.