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There is nothing more frustrating than a reluctant reader when it comes to homeschooling. Boys especially can seem to be reluctant readers. Do you happen to have a second-grade reluctant reader? Are you looking for the best phonics program for reluctant readers?
Put down your frustrations. I want to assure you, your reluctant reader will in fact read. However, are you wondering how? I was too.
Frustration and Overwhelm of Reluctant readers
There is nothing more painful than watching your son meltdown into tears trying his absolute hardest to read. As a homeschool mom, the frustration is even more so, especially if you live in a state with requirements.
As the mom, you may fret over him not reading. The child also may fret over why they aren’t reading, especially when peers around them are.
There are so many waves of emotions that both parent and child go through. Especially, when outside influences put judgment on you that your kid is not reading. It can get especially difficult as a homeschooler.
The Homeschool Mom with a reluctant reader
Are you a homeschool mom with a reluctant reader? It can be extremely overwhelming. Perchance even putting you at a point where you feel you’re not equipt to be educating.
Maybe you’ve scoured the internet. I know I did. Here’s what I found:
- it’s totally normal for boys especially not to read until age 10 or 11.
- the right and left hemispheres of the brain must both be in communication for reading to happen
- The brain doesn’t develop the same for every child.
- The brain develops earlier for some children, and later for others.
- Waldorf and Charlotte Mason’s philosophy does not introduce reading until second or third-grade levels.
So then, why this big rush for reading? The educational system in America keeps pushing its’ agenda, and wants kids reading earlier and earlier.
There are many homeschoolers out there who educate exactly how they want, and feel led to educate. It is part of the freedom we should have in our country. It is how it should be.
However, what if you live in a state that has certain stipulations? It’s funny how states don’t seem to make a big deal if a child in the public education system isn’t to what the “standard” is. But, what about if you homeschool?
As homeschoolers, we must know our rights, and also the requirements. I know some families that don’t care about state standards. It is a choice every homeschooling family must make.
Some states require that a child be at a certain level, or the public education system can intervene and mandate your child go to public school. I know this rarely happens. And I am not saying this to invoke fear.
I knew there had to be a solution instead of just waiting years and hoping my son would eventually read. I was over the frustration and he was too.
Best Phonics program for reluctant readers
You’ve boughten what seems like all the programs? I know I have. That’s why in this article, I am going to give a brief overview of the style and effectiveness of the programs we’ve tried.
Then, I am going to give you what I think seems to be the holy grail of phonics programs. I so wish I could’ve found this much earlier. It would have saved many tears, meltdowns, and heartache.
Overview of phonics programs we’ve tried:
- Teach your Child to Read in 100 easy Lessons
- The Reading Lesson
- Bookshark Grade 1, I Can Read Series
- The Good and the Beautiful Level K
- Fast Phonics
- Explode the Code
To understand the importance of phonics and how a child learns to read breaks down to two approaches on the market today:
- true phonetic decoding
- sight word memorization method
True phonetic decoding is teaching the child how to read by being able to truly sound out a word. In this method, children learn how to decode words through simple introduction techniques of the English language.
However, most “phonics” programs out there simply teach phonics from a sight word memorization method. The child thus memorizes words and sounds until they are reading age-appropriate material. When a sound is memorized, another is added and then another and then another.
In this method, the child really isn’t learning to read, beyond age-appropriate material. The child is actually just memorizing until the brain connects on its’ own for true phonetic awareness. Dr. Seuss books are a great example of this method.
Review of Programs
Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons
This is where the nightmare of my reluctant reader began. I read on all sorts of groups, reviews, and blogs how this book works great. Even the title states it will be easy.
In just 4 months of lessons, I thought my son would be reading. So, I bought it. We started in. It was NOT easy. At first, it seemed to be ok. But once the lessons began to progress, my son was not able to follow the program.
We kept having to review over and over. He hated it. The lessons are NOT Charlotte Mason friendly and would be considered the definition of twaddle.
If your child grasps a concept upon being presented once and then moving on, this book would work great. However, if your child is like mine, and needs the same thing multiple times until it clicks, this does not work.
The Reading Lesson
This is a similar style book like the previous book. It is a workbook with the lessons incorporated into it. At first, we really enjoyed it compared to the other one.
However, the sentences and stories are twaddle, and my son soon lost interest.
I really tried to encourage him to continue, but again nothing was clicking. It wasn’t really teaching phonics.
This would be a great tool for a child who is already reading and wants to build their confidence. The stories at the end of the book are more engaging than the beginning.
BookShark I can read it series
For Grade 1, we used Bookshark primarily. We are totally eclectic in our homeschooling method. It came with the I Can Read series with their worksheets and exercises.
At first, the I Can Read Series, was working well. My son was what seemed to be reading. However, it progresses just as quickly as the other programs. This is where the tears started.
He tried as hard as he could and was getting frustrated at not being able to progress. Personally, I was glad to throw in the towel on this one. The twaddle was too much for me.
I craved something richer for him. Something beautiful. Something focused on God.
The Good and The Beautiful
My son had just turned 7, and I had heard about TGATB. I read various reviews. Looking at sample curriculum and based on his level, I ordered level K. I was glad I did, because K is really more like grade 1.
I really wanted to LOVE this curriculum. And actually, I do love it. However, it is based more on the sight memorization method. It is a full language arts curriculum, so has aspects of sentence structure, nouns, verbs, etc. It also has geography and art appreciation woven into it.
Truly, TGATB language arts program is a beautiful well-written curriculum. At first, my son was finally moving in a forward direction. But yet again. Stalled. It got to a point where it became again too difficult.
We were diligent in our phonics cards. Which, were just merely a memorizing technique. He then applied the memorized material. This is where the biggest meltdowns started to happen.
I started to feel horrible as a homeschool mom like I was failing my son. The pressures of outside influences to get him reading felt like a ton of bricks on my shoulders.
So, I gave it to God. I started to pray He lead me to the solutions. And, if you know the Lord. He is ALWAYS faithful.
I found out about an online homeschool convention which was free, signed up, and my mind was blown away. I was introduced to education ideas, and philosophies that couldn’t have come at a better time.
This is when I ordered fast phonics. I wish I wouldn’t have ordered the complete set, as the book was more than enough.
But, for the first time, his brain clicked in decoding. This phonics program was helping to relay the foundation that could be built upon. No longer, were there tears, but a slow-building of confidence.
If I could go back and order this when my boys were three, I would and start them right then and there. I can’t, but maybe you can.
I’m serious if you have a reluctant reader or young pre-k child, this will relay the foundation your child needs.
The best phonics program for reluctant readers
After we relaid the foundation with fast phonics, I ordered foundational phonics on a whim. Let me tell you. It was the best purchase I have ever made in my son’s education.
Since he had a good foundation with fast phonics on his letters and sounds. No more mix up between b and d. I ordered Book two. Word mastery. It is beautiful.
Foundational phonics is laid out as a workbook that the child can do independently. It starts off with short vowel sounds and teaches through a decoding method.
There is plenty of copy work, so it serves as a handwriting course as well.
The sentences are rich language, and not twaddle. The lessons can be short or long, depending on how many sheets you choose to complete.
By the end of book 2, the child will be fully reading with ease and comfortability. I love the way it builds and goes over the same concept just the right amount of time.
Explode the code
I finally broke down and ordered Explode the Code after all the mixed reviews. It can definitely aid in building upon a solid foundation of phonetical awareness.
However, it is dry and a traditional educational tool. in So, if you are Charlotte Mason based I would forgo. But, if you want to supplement in extra worksheets, they do really build upon each other and explode the code.
Reluctant readers will learn to read
If you need to hear it again, relax mom.
Your child will learn to read.
And yes, there are resources to utilize instead of just waiting years. I would love to have the comment section in this post be for others to share their successes or challenges with reluctant readers. So let me and other moms know, what has worked for you?