Choosing the Right Phonics Program

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

You have two choices to pick from when deciding to use the OnTrack Reading Phonics Program. The first emphasizes 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 to become a proficient reader while also training essential phonics skills of blending, segmenting and phoneme manipulation.

Use the Free Phonics Program?

If your child's primary difficulty is accurately reading multisyllable words, you should consider the free program. On learning the OnTrack Reading Multisyllable Method, your child should become able to accurately decode most of the multisyllable words he has been either guessing at, confusing with other words, or simply skipping over in the past.

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. I believe it's the best reading curriculum for quickly teaching a child how to successfully attack unfamiliar multisyllable words.

Use the Complete OnTrack Reading Phonics Program?

Your second option is to purchase the OnTrack Reading Phonics Program. The program consists of two parts, a 170-page workbook, and an instruction manual that lays out exactly how to use the workbook. But when should you go that route?

The most difficult part of teaching a child to read English words isn't teaching him to read the longer words. It's all those short, one-syllable words that present the greatest challenge. 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 many languages over the centuries. The result is that a young child, to become a proficient reader of English, has to learn far more material to reliably read one-syllable words accurately, especially 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 complex, especially compared to many other languages

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 isn't yet comfortable with the advanced code? That's the question you need to answer before deciding which route to take.

How Do I Tell If My Child Knows Enough Phonics?

If you're not sure, consider administering the free 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.

But, whether you administer the tests or not, 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 you should probably consider going the route that uses the workbook.

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 eight weeks. If you follow instruction manual faithfully and are well-organized when you begin each lesson, one hour per day for eight to ten weeks (40-50 hours) should be sufficient to finish the workbook.

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 two books comprising the entire program are all you will need, plus access to suitable children's literature.

The next page covers additional information you'll want to consider if you're contemplating using the complete OnTrack Reading Phonics Program.