Reading has been the bane of Garrett's homeschool existence. He really dislikes to read and he struggles with it. We've made great strides in working towards getting him caught up to where he should be at but we're still behind that targeted goal. Because of this, I am always looking for curriculum and other tools in which to help him build confidence and develop the skills he needs. One of the latest tools we have used has been the Ultimate Phonics Reading Program from Spencer Learning.
What is the Ultimate Phonics Reading Program?
The Ultimate Phonics Reading Program is a computer software program available on both Windows and Macintosh platforms. A one time purchase of a license for the software allows for unlimited use with no expiration which can be used with multiple family members.
The program consists of 262 individual lessons that introduces students to over 4,400 words and 2,100 sentences as it progresses students for early reading to advanced level reading while teaching phonics sounds and the various rules to the English language. The program can be used by a number of different types of students, from the beginning or struggling reader, ESL students, students with dyslexia and even adults who are uncomfortable with their current reading level.
Lessons start by introducing the 26 letters of the English alphabet and the sounds they make and end with the student reading sentences such as "When you have a fever, your temperature will rise about normal". Each lesson progresses through a phonic sound or blend that students learn and build upon in subsequent lessons. Lessons are broken into 4 sections, starting with the idea/pattern that will be covered in the lesson, a word lesson that lists what types of words will be presented in the lesson, a breakdown of the words into components and finally practice sentences that are to be read. These sentences are made up from both words learned in previous lessons as well as the focus words for the current lesson.
How We Used the Ultimate Phonics Reading Program
For this review, I used this program exclusively with Garrett several times a week. Typically, we would complete one or two lessons each session. Lessons would take us about 10-15 minutes. We've thus far made it to Lesson 38.
The format of this program is very simple. Garrett quickly learned to navigate the program by himself and was able to work with the Ultimate Phonics Reading Program independently. Each section of the lesson offers both visuals as well as audibles. Pronunciation of the words were as simple as Garrett hovering the pointer over the word for him to hear it properly. He was also able to have the sentences read to him after his own reading to be sure that he got all words properly. This approach seems very simple but does appear to be effective in teaching proper phonics and reading skills.
At this point, I will say that Garrett's reading has improved but to be honest, the lessons we have done so far have been a bit below where he's at. I did not, however, want him to skip any of the lessons so that any phonic sounds or consonant blends he might not have a strong understanding of could be reinforced.
I found the program ran without any issues and did not go any resources on my computer. An internet connection is not needed after the initial download and registration and the program is easily accessible though a desktop icon. The menus are very simple and easy for Garrett to navigate and the program does remember where the student left off from previous sessions.
I'm looking forward to watching the results as Garrett continues to progress through to the final lesson and see where his reading skill will be at that point. I'll probably choose to revisit this review when we reach that point to report what the end result will be. Until then, we will continue to use this program as a tool along with our regular reading program as I do believe it's making a difference for him.
For more information on Spencer Learning and the Ultimate Phonics Reading Program, including a free ten day trial of the program, be sure to visit their website or visit them on the following social media sites:
Twitter: http://twitter.com/spencerlearning @spencerlearning