This is an unusual thing to talk about when reviewing something, but let me tell you how I review products. For downloadable products that you use on your computer such as one I'm reviewing today, The Ultimate Phonics Reading Program from Spencer Learning, I usually look over the program myself, use it with my kids, then look over it as a total program again. Well I just got done with my final overview look of this program and was taken aback once again with how wonderful this program is.
For years I was an educational therapist and worked with children that had learning problems. Some of the students that we worked with had a difficult time reading so we would take them back to the very basics of reading using a great phonics program. Although the phonics program that we used came from a book, The Ultimate Phonics Reading Program reminds me so much of the program I used to use.
Now, don't get me wrong. I said above that this program is a wonderful program. I have reviewed a lot of phonics programs that have said that they were wonderful. Usually, however, what they viewed as "wonderful" was a lot of graphics or flashy animation that went along with the teaching. If that is what you are looking for - a flashy but weak program - stop reading now! If, however, you are looking for an excellent phonics program where your child will learn how to read through a super strong but non-flashy program, then you have come to the right place. The Ultimate Phonics Reading Program is what you are looking for.
First of all, this program is a downloadable program where you download the program and are given a license to type in in order to actually use the program. All of this was very easy to do even for a non technical person like me.
Since Jacob, my youngest son who is using this program, is a very weak reader, I began with the basics with him, so I am going to be describing some of the beginning things. Although I will be mentioning that a a child can work independently with this program, it is recommended and is best if a parent sits beside the child while they are working through the lesson. Also, I said that I would be describing the basic lessons since that's what we worked with, however, as I glanced through the advanced things, all of them went through the same exact steps as the beginning sounds which were:
- Word List
The Word List is just a list of words using that sound. What I do with Jacob is have him go down the list of words to see if he can sound them out. If he needs a little help, then he can hover over the word with his mouse and the man's voice will read the word to him. However, here's is the really neat part! If he can't sound out a word, or if he sounds it out incorrectly, then he can use his mouse or touch pad to right click on the word to bring up a screen that has the word by itself at the top, and then, the word broken up into sound pieces below. Again, he can hover over the word at the top for the voice to say the word, or he can hover over each sound piece so that each individual sound is sounded out to him. Wouldn't you know it that is the exact same thing that I would do when I was an educational therapist! After he has figured out the word, Jacob can then use the back button to go back to the Word List.
After the Word List section of the lesson, all of the words that were on the list are given individually just as I described above. The word is at the top and if you hover over it the word is read and the word is broken up into pieces at the bottom and you can hover over each sound. If Jacob has mastered the words using the word list then I just click through these, but, otherwise, these are very valuable to continue to help him or as a review.
Finally, the last section is the Sentence section. Several sentences are given that use words with the sound that the child just learned and often with words that the child learned previously. Again, if you hover over a word then it is read to you or if you right click on the word then you go to the page where the word is broken up into sounds. This program has thought of everything!
But, that's not all. There are several features that are invaluable! Lets say that your child knows the short a sound already but just needs some practice. You can go to the short a lesson and there are tabs at the top where you can skip right to the section that you want. So, you can skip over the introduction and go right to the word list. Or maybe to the individual words with the word broken up beneath. Or, even to the sentences! How neat and ingenious!
But, still that's not all! Say you know your child has difficulty with a certain sound so you just want to go to that lesson. Well, if you know the lesson number that features that sound, you can go right to it or you can use a search box to find the particular lesson that teaches that sound. As you can see, The Ultimate Phonics Reading Program can be used as a stand alone program or can be used in a flexible way to fit your child's needs.
I don't think that there is any doubt in your mind by this time that we are fans of The Ultimate Phonics Reading Program from Spencer Learning. This is an invaluable program that we will be using for a long time. It's great for struggling readers, English as a Second Language folks, beginning readers . . . really anyone! To find out more about this awesome program just click on any one of the highlighted tabs above. To find what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought of this program just click on the banner below. Happy Homeschooling!