- Reviewed on Saturday, April 17, 2010
- Grades Used: Levels 1, 2 and 3
- Dates used: 2007-present
I tell everyone I know about this program, and wish I had enough money to hire a sky-writer to tell the world, but alas, I'll have to settle for Homeschool Reviews.
I discovered The Phonics Road after a failed attempt at using Rod and Staff, combined with the philosophy that if my son was a strong reader, he would acquire excellent grammar and writing skills through osmosis. Seeing my second grader with a sixth grade reading level but terrible spelling skills, I knew we needed to make a drastic change.
I was looking for a program that was all-inclusive, teaching grammar, punctuation, handwriting, composition, literature, phonics and spelling. That's a lot to ask of a program, so the research ensued.
I read reviews on "boxed" programs til I was crosseyed. I was not seeing the positive feedback I had hoped. Furthermore, a series of loosely connected workbooks just did not fit in with my teaching style, nor did I feel it would fulfill my goal for my four children: to not merely be able to pass Language Arts "tests", but to be able to explain the 'why' behind the rules and functions.
Finally, I stumbled upon an ad for The Phonics Road. Upon visiting the website, I felt a eureka moment. I ordered the sample DVD, and was sold. This program had everything I desired, and more.
My oldest son did not start Level 1 until third grade, which is a late start for this program, but actually worked well for us. We swiftly moved through that Level, but laid a strong foundation. Every year since he has worked through a level, and I am thrilled with his progress. We are now nearing the completion of Level 3, and my son is not only learning English from the origins (Latin, Old French, Old English), but he has grown adept at determining the meaning of words by looking at the root and suffixes/prefixes.
This is NOT busy work. There is a method, there is a purpose (I hate wasting time, and there's little of that here), and I am seeing results. My son's spelling is above grade level, and as we finish up the final year, and then advane into The Latin Road to English Grammar, I expect that trend to continue, and for him to do very well on SATs.
Cons: This program is rather teacher-intensive. I have decided that for our homeschooling goals, this will be the one subject in which I will be most heavily involved. If I can teach my children Language Arts strongly, then all the other subjects can be completed in a more independent manner. One way that I am easing the burden on myself is taking copious notes each Sunday when I view the DVD. This will allow me the freedom of not having to rewatch the DVD with each subsequent child (I have 4), and only having to look at the DVD again if something is unclear. With four students, I can see how this would become an overwhelming task.
Another thing that some might view as a negative is the price. We are not a rich family by any stretch, but I believe this program is an investment that will yield returns far beyond what we've spent (scholarships, exemptions from college courses, etc.) The level of excellence is such that I compare it to attending a prestigious private school, which in our neighborhood costs around $10,000 a year. The teacher's edition for each level needs to be purchased once, and then only student packs added each. I would think that purchasing Phonics Road would certainly be cheaper than purchasing four different programs.
There is so much more I could say. Although some think Mrs. Beers methods (spelling lists) seem disjointed, there is a purpose, and as the levels progress, this becomes more clear. I have a bachelors degree in English Language and Literature, and I am astounded by the things I am learning about English. I am far straonger in grammar from studying this alongside my son than I was with my college studies! You will not regret investing your time and money in this program.
- Reviewed on Sunday, March 29, 2009
- Grades Used: 1-2
- Dates used: 2008-20009
I was led to the Orton Gillingham method of instruction in reading and spelling by my daughter's difficulty in learning to read and subsequent diagnosis of dyslexia. We work closely with a reading specialist trained in OG (Orton Gilingham), Wilson and Linda-Mood Bell. The reading specialist uses a spine of OG and mixes in the best of the others. I reinforce the lessons at home and have tried many homeschool curriculum including Phonics Zoo, All About Spelling, Phonics Road among others. Here's my experience with the level I of Phonics Road.
Pros: The videos are arranged so that you can watch them ahead of time instructing your child what to do. The program is largely concentrated on spelling (encoding). After using the program for a few weeks I ended up giving my daughter a spelling test and would have her watch the video and check her work. So I guess what I'm saying is that it's flexible, you can use it to teach the teacher, or have your child watch after a spelling test. The other big positive is Barbara's knowledge. She's the teacher WE all should have had! I learned neat things like the says thee when the next word starts with a vowel.
Cons: I now have 8 months of OG training under my belt and one of the most important aspects of OG is that phonics is taught systematically, especially for kid's with dyslexia. What I mean by that is that a phonics rule is learned, such as sh says /sh/, and the child works decoding and encoding words with that sound until the pathways in the brain are permanent. Phonics Road would introduce a group of 10 or so sounds and we wouldn't work on much decoding (reading words with that sound), but move right to encoding (spelling). The spelling each week is completely random words, based on all the sounds presented to that point, but also peppered with sight words. It would have been so much more effective to introduce one or two sounds at a time and work with lots of words containing that sound.
Overall, I have mixed feelings on Phonics Road. It's so well put together and organized yet didn't work for us due to the randomness of the presentation. This may work fine for children not struggling with dyslexia.