Homeschool Reading and Phonics Curriculum Forum



Hi everyone! Welcome to the homeschool curriculum forum post series! Today we’re discussing reading and phonics. Since my children will be in grades prek, 2nd, 4th, and 5th this post will be geared towards elementary students. However feel free to leave a comment for whatever ages you are working with as I know it will help other homeschoolers out there!



For the early years I like to stick with basics and use Abeka for phonics and language practice. I prefer the more traditional approach to teaching letter sounds and blends as well as the reinforcing worksheets provided by Abeka.




I also like the various readers that come with the program as well as the comprehension questions after each story. You’ll want to make sure to get the “text questions and answers key” for the readers. I also like the “Read & Think” skill sheets that Abeka has starting in grade 3. They are timed reading exercises with comprehension questions at the end. The skill sheets are graded so you can assess how well your student does with comprehension. They also help prepare students for standardized timed testing as well.


  • Uses traditional sound blending for phonics practice.
  • Material is grade level appropriate
  • Stories are interesting
  • Contains comprehension questions
  • Contains Read & Think Skill Sheets for upper grades.


  • Can be pricey unless purchased used.
  • Comprehension questions aren’t quite as in depth as the comprehension of BJU Press Reading program.



So, now comes the fun part!

What are your favorite Reading/Phonics curriculum, resources, websites, etc? Leave a comment below discussing your choices for this year and why.

Feel free to ask questions or reply to each other too!

It’s my way of doing a forum without actually doing a forum haha!

And hopefully this will help us all as we start the process of researching curriculum, and trying to decide what will be the best fit for our homeschool.

Note: Please keep today’s conversations geared towards Reading & Phonics, I will be posting one for each subject separately so we can keep our comments organized.

Click here if you missed my previous Homeschool Curriculum Forum posts!



Disclosure: This was not a sponsored post, I may however be affiliated with one or more products mentioned. The opinions expressed in this post were not influenced by the company. They are products I have used and felt like sharing, cuz’ it’s my blog and I can if I want to.


  1. I have a question about Abeka. How long is the program? Does it take 1 year to teach your child to read or two? And by that I mean you can give him/her any book (within reason) and they will be able to phonetically sound out any word they haven’t seen before.



    • Andrea,
      I cannot agree more the Erica here. I don’t even consider it pricey considering the response I get from using the Abeka language arts curriculum.
      My greatest fear was messing up their phonics and reading. When we began the oldest was already reading but I doubted if I had what it would take to teach a child to read. The youngest is doing great. We have only used the Abeka program and she began with the little Kinder readers that they have. Her word attack skills are great. It makes her a better speller as well. She was reading in the first few weeks but is now flowing through a story with ease. She amazes herself as she reads in public. It is not one of those “teach your child to read in a month” kind of programs but it is solid and lays a solid foundation. The oldest one loves to do the THINK AND READ booklets. She will often ask to do more than one story at a time. As to the question about one or two years: that would depend on the child. If they can handle more than one lesson per day like the youngest then they will be reading most books in a year but if you inch along then the ability to “sound” out the larger words would be more than a year. Abeka recognizes so much more than a basic phonics, it approaches ALL the phonetic sounds.

    • Andrea – my daughter went to K and 1st at the local public school. They did not teach phonics the way that I learned phonics. They were teaching word memorization. Her reading skills weren’t that great – she really struggled. She is in 2nd this year – the first year of homeschooling. I use aBeka and LOVE it! She is reading MUCH better, and has little difficulty sounding out words now – even “big words.”

      • Jennifer K. says:

        Amy S. – My kids are in public school (K and 2nd). I can not stand how they teach our kids to read – it’s all sight words and guessing. Homeschooling isn’t an option so I’m looking for a suppliment we can do at home. Would you recommend Abeka or hooked on phonics or something else? I don’t want to confuse them with their learning at school but I also don’t think I’m doing them justice or doing my job as their parent by standing on the side lines not doing anything. Any thoughts or suggestions are appreciated!!

        • Reading Eggs might be a good supplement to use. My kids love it.

          • My 5 year old hasn’t started Kindergarten yet, and Loves Reading Eggs. It has helped him start to read before we started a formal program.

        • Amy,
          I’m a Kindergarten teacher turned homeschool mama. When parents came to me looking for a supplement I always recommended this program:
          I agree with the other ladies that Reading Eggs can be fun too (we want reading to be fun!), but if you’re looking for serious results a comprehensive results for teaching your children to read and build their confidence in the process a good reading program can make all the difference.
          Best of luck!

          • Woah, I’m obviously sleepy. That above comment was a jumbled mess and I have no idea how to edit it 🙁

      • Belinda V. says:

        Jennifer K., did you use the 2nd grade Abeka curriculum or did you start her in the 1st to catch her up? My daughter is not very strong with her reading and i am looking to change her to Abeka. She is going into 2nd and I am not sure where to start her since we are switching curriculum.

        Thank you!

    • Rebecca says:

      I bought this for my son, expecting to homeschool, we ended up not after a few months due to a huge loss in our family. BUT, from the time I did spend with it I noticed it needs (or at least I thought it did!) some supplementing. The K teacher at our church’s school agrees with that and says she also thinks it moves to quickly for the average student. This said, though, by Christmas time the kids are moved into reading groups and can read grade appropriate material. As for just giving then ANY book and having them sound out some foreign word…well my 4th grader still needs help with that now and then.

  2. I taught my three year old to read in several months using the book “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons”. It was phenomenal!!
    She is now six, we are just finishing up Kindergarten, and she is reading proficiently at a grade 3 level. I will be using this for all my kids as they reach the pre-kindergarten age. One of the best parts is that the book is very inexpensive on Amazon, and can be reused!

    For reading practice this year, we checked out lots of chapter books from the library and used RAZkids online, which is awesome!

    • I used this as well and I loved it! I did this with my son when he was 5 (he’s now 8) and is reading on a 3rd grade level. Once I finished the book, I moved to just having him read out loud to me from library books like Magic Tree House, or anything else that he wanted. I now use the Progeny Press study guides with stories. We are currently doing The Cricket in Times Square with their study guide. Since it’s geared a bit above where he is, we just go at a slower pace. His reading is very good, but our problem is he just doesn’t like to read much. I loved both Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons as well as Progeny Press study guides because you can use them again and again with your other kids.

    • I tried using this to teach my second daughter to read and it just didn’t work. Yes, it’s inexpensive but still a waste of money if it doesn’t work. I used Abeka for my oldest daughter and ended up going back to it with my second…she was reading in no time. I have also had several homeschooling friends who used 100 East Lessons and it didn’t work for any of them either. I am glad to read that someone had success with it though.

    • Michelle V says:

      We used this successfully with my DS even though he didnt like any part of it but the stories. Its a great program. My DD however really struggled with it. She is a visual/ kinesthetic learner and has had a tough time learning to read. We set aside 100 Easy Lessons and switched to HOP K. This was a little better but she still struggles and Ive had to use foam letters etc to be as hands on as possible. It taught me that one reading curriculum def doesnt fit all 🙂 We are switching to All about reading 1 for next year….cant wait to use it!

    • I am also using the 100 Easy lessons with my 5 and 3 year olds. My 5 year old is doing great with it (could be the age) but my 3 year old struggles a little. I combine the sounds with the “Jolly Phonics” hand motions. By doing this, they remember the sounds much better. We have only been doing it a little while and are only on Lesson 23, but I am hoping that by the time next school year comes around, the oldest will at least be reading. Note: He turned 5 in November, so he is not actually in K yet, but I am hoping that since he has an older sister, I can quickly push him through K and on to 1st grade. 🙂 We also go to the library and get the beginner reading books.

    • I was recommend this book also (Teach Your Child…) from three different homeschool moms. I bought it for my son who had just turned 4 and I was amazed at how easy it really was. We try to do a lesson a day although we probably end up doing 3-4 a week in reality. The lesson we are on is 80 something so about 20 left and he has started reading those level 1 and 2 beginner readers. Each week we go to the library he picks out 4 or 5 and he reads to me. He gets so excited when he sees he’s read the whole book by himself.

    • We also used Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. My daughter was three and she didn’t like it at first, but let me say, she loved it by the end. She is now four and easily reading at a second grade level. She loves reading all the Amelia Bedelia books and is able to read the Bible with very little help (couldn’t we all use a little help with some of those names 😉 ) But I would definitely recommend it, though you may need a reward system to get them into it at first. 🙂

  3. When we were still in the phonics stage my daughter responded very well to Explode the Code. It must have worked because going into 6th grade next year she is an amazing speller and reads all the time. For reading we stopped the “readers” after about 3rd grade and started reading everything. Classics to just for fun to popular. I always read a book ahead of her and would have her journal and notebook about the book she was reading. The fun thing about the notebooking is we include so many different projects related to the book.

  4. We have been using Sing, Spell, Read & Write this year (kindergarten) and she’d loved it. It comes with a cd she loves to listen to. It’s very engaging. The only problem is, my dtr isn’t great at handwriting and doesn’t enjoy coloring all that much. But they get to keep track of their progress and race around a track. Seems it could be updated a bit (has cassette tapes and an instructional VHS tape), but it’s worked for us. Would love to supplement, though. I’ll buy the book from Amazon mentioned above, but does anyone have suggestions for learning the rules of this crazy language at a first grade level?

    • We used sing spell read and write also, and my first grader was reading on a third grade level before we even finished the program. My kids love the games and songs too.

    • We use the 1st grade level Sing, Spell, Read and Write curriculum for my 1st grader and it is perfect. If you liked the kindergarten level, then it would be an easy move on to the 1st grade level. There are great 1st grade songs, race track, phonics games, treasure box and 17 readers. Doesn’t have any coloring except for the handwriting/phonics review (we skipped over that). Definitely perfect for a 1st grader. Just keep a good pace because the important spelling rules don’t come in until around lesson 14 (36 total lessons). My daughter loves it!

  5. All About Reading!!

    Such a great phonics and reading program. We absolutely loved Level 1, and now we are almost finished with Level 2.

    I used “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 lessons” with DD#1, and it was great for her. With DD#2, it was just not a good fit. The odd way the letters were written just confused her. AAR has been exactly what we need.

    All About Reading!!!!!

    • Ashley C. says:

      I second that Dion, we LOVE All About Reading!! We tried The Reading Lesson, Teaching Your Child to Read in 20 Easy Lessons for a little over half the year and my son struggled everyday. We finally decided to try something else and I can’t believe what a turnaround he has made. He has done better in 2 weeks than he did the whole first half of the school year! All About Reading is entertaining and engaging. I would recommend this to anyone!

    • We LOVE All About Reading. It will be the perfect complementary match to use with All About Spelling. We use All About Spelling for my oldest. When teaching my second to read, it occured to me how simple spelling would become if she learned to read using the same phonograms. My K-5 sweetie is picking up reading so easily using All About Spelling. We had previously purchased Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, but after a few days into it, it was just not our fit. We taught our oldest to read using My Father’s World. It worked, and she is an excellent reader, but All About Reading is much better in my opinion.

      We have used Abeka’s Animal Alphabet Friends to learn the letter sounds during pre-k years (2-4). I will be adding the All About Reading Pre-Reading program for my 4yr old next year. So excited about that.

      • Christy G. says:

        How have you taught the AAR pre-k with your older child’s AAR? I have a Kinder and a PreK this year and I’d like to use AAR with both of them! Do I need to purchase both packages?

        • Hi Christy,
          I use my LOTW for prek, so I didn’t use AAR prek but it mainly teaches letter recognition and sounds like a normal prek would. Then the AAR L1 moves into reading, slowly, but they’ll want to know their sounds before doing AAR L1.

    • Jennifer Ott says:

      My first two kids were reading fluently by 4…not because I taught them anything, but they just picked up on reading quickly. My son is now 8 and reading at a High School level. Then child 3 turned 5 and still didn’t know all her letter (not for lack of teaching). We tried 100 easy lessons, Phonics Pathways, Hooked on Phonics, but we’ve settled on AAR right now. We are almost done with the Pre-Reader Level, and she loves it! She participates in her older sibling’s school, so she enjoys that the crafts and activities are just for her. Also, the customer service just can’t be beat!

    • Janae Graves says:

      My second grade daughter really struggles with reading. We started with Teach your child to Read with little success, moved to HOP, still not much success. We have used Memoria Press Phonics book, and continue to do so. She is reading chapter books, but still has some trouble. Ive thought about All About Reading, but am wondering where to start at. Because she is reading, just not fluently? Any suggestions?

  6. The Adventures in Phonics Workbooks are fabulous. They have level A,B, and C to start using in Kindergarten. They are less than $8 each and a child will have a complete understanding of phonics by the time they are done.

    My 4 year old taught herself to read by asking me to help her do this workbook. I have used it for 4 of my kids, and it delivers results. YOu can order it at or Amazon.

    • Adventures in phonics is wonderful. I would say it is also a traditional way of learning phonics. I am finishing up level A and moving to level B and so far my daughter has been doing the worksheets on her own without much help. She also has taught herself how to read. You can also buy it at

  7. I used All About Reading with my Kindergartener for a few months, but the Kindergarten level, in my opinion, is more suited for Pre-School aged kids. So, we just review our letter sounds, sight word flash cards, and do the activities on You don’t have to, but I purchased the year subscription to access all the activities on the site. My toddler likes to sit with her while she does the activities and he also likes to go through the letter sounds activities on his own. We really love that site. For first grade, we’re going back to AAR Level 1 combined with All About Spelling Level 1 since there is the daily phonetic sounds review for both curriculums that we can do at the same time. We also read whatever book she wants to read, I let her pick her own books at the library. I read a sentence and then she’ll repeat my sentence. I also will stop as I’m reading a sentence and point to a word I know she knows. Lots of praise and excitement on my part when she is able to read a word or sentence fluently.

    • I’d also like to piggyback on her reading stories with me to include that we stop at the end of each page and I’ll aske her questions about why certain things happened or what does she think is going to happen. I’ll even ask her what she would do and things like that. Her comprehension has grown so much over this past year just by us doing that. My oldest is in the fourth grade with an eight grade reading level. He was born with a book in his hand, LOL. Not really but he has been reading huge books since he was in the second grade. He has always had strong language skills and picked up reading so quickly that I don’t even know what did it for him. I’ve never done readers though, just let them pick out their own books at the library.

      • Just wanted to let you know that AAR 1 and AAS 1 were a little redundant for my kids. I started them at the same time and soon realized that the spelling program could wait. We are just finishing Level 1 of AAR and I plan on starting AAS 1 when we start AAR 2 (I think the website also suggests that).

        • They do suggest that,which is why we won’t start AAS Level 1 until 1st grade. Also, in response to Ronnie, the AAR pre-reading level is geared toward pre-k. That’s probably why it seemed too easy for your preschooler. We are using AAR Level 1 in kindergarten, which any child that can recognize the letters and knows the sounds of the letters should be able to handle.

    • I have a kinder who is reading cvc words fairly easy and who’s fluency is steadily improving he knows some sight words. Was in public school but is now homeschooled. No formal phonics curriculum in school outside of letter sounds. He knows NO blends. Thought about ordering AAR level 1. Any feedback from anyone would be helpful! I feel I should go back even though he is reading and teach a solid phonics foundation. Help this first time homeschooling mom please!

  8. For reading I love, love, love Christian Light’s, Reading to Learn Series. The stories are so wholesome and Biblical. I use the workbooks, but skip their phonics. I just buy the hardbound readers and workbooks, but not the teacher’s manual.

    For phonics I love All About Spelling and Explode the Code. We use Victory Drill Book to build speed.

    To teach a child to read I use lessons from the website Hubbard’s Cupboard and the book, The Reading Lesson.

    If you have a child in 4th grade who loves to read I recommend the Moody Series from Titus 2. com. They are written by a homeschool graduate. They do incorporate their own personal standards and talk of pregnancy and mom having a baby at home, but the examples of the family serving Jesus and witnessing have been great for me and my kids. Also, the siblings have great relationships. They don’t call each other names and they apologize to each other when they are wrong. I’ve seen positive fruit from the books in my kid’s lives.

    • I also use Christian Light’s Learning To Read and Reading To Learn curriculum. My kids love the stories and actually cried when I considered switiching to another reading program. The stories also teach Christian values.

    • I am starting LTR this year with our 4th child. Each child is different but all did very well and are confident readers. I would say if you decide not to use the L. Arts find a spelling program to use.

  9. Adventures in Phonics by Christian Liberty Press. There is Level A, B and C. In addition with Level A is 4 readers. It is very cost effective. You can also buy the Student and teacher book and readers as e-format through Currclick. Just love the program and kids love it too.

  10. Mary Ann says:

    My oldest, now 7, pretty much taught herself how to read and began reading just before we turned 4 after we got through the basic CVC words. We used the Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading. It was boring, but effective! She can now read 5th grade level books, and so we skipped through most of the “readers.” We used Bob Books. also like how the font looks normal in OPG; font in some other programs confused ME :). We began All About Spelling and have now switched to Rod and Staff Spelling. For my second daughter, just 4, I am considering All About Reading. She likes workbook-type stuff better, and I need the organization of a “letter of the week” curriculum (thanks Erica I have been using your Letter of the Week” too!) I’d love more feedback on All about Reading.

    • I switched from ABeka 1 to All About Reading Level 1 in the middle of the year. ABeka just didn’t work with my kids. It was frustrating to all involved. I found the placement test for AAR, ordered and haven’t looked back, other than wonder what I’m going to do with my half used curriculum. AAR has shown my kids that reading shouldn’t be frustrating. I still have one that doesn’t enjoy certain parts of the program on certain days (word cards on sunny days), but he does them and is reading much better because of it. I like the phrase they use, “we want to read the words you are sounding out like we speak them.”

      • I’m halfway through A Beka K5 and my son is doing fine. But it just seems so dry to me. Did things really liven up when you switched to AAR? Do you think it is just as sound an education, phonetically?

        • Yes, AAR is much more hands on and fun for them I think 🙂 Abeka is more geared towards classrooms so most of the material is meant for seatwork.

    • I have to agree with Mary Ann about the Ordinary Parent’s Guide (OPG). It’s cheap, boring, and effective. With my daughter, I used it as an outline for a homemade phonics program, making flip books, etc. using the words in the lessons as we went through them. That made it less boring. With my youngest, I got lucky. He has a very orderly, mathematical/engineering brain. He didn’t find it boring until we had gotten through a significant amount of the material. He hasn’t started kindergarten yet, but reads anything that interests him, which is mostly picture books, nonfiction, and recipes. He can also read most of the words in his assigned scripture verses.

      • I am using OPG and letter of the week with my 3 year old. It doesn’t have to be boring. He likes the little poems and I always play games with him and he can work independently with most of the LOTW.
        He’s not quite reading yet because we are still working on vowels. I started in February. We read lots of book from the library too.

  11. I agree about Abeka. I loved it for pre-k and kindergarten. I liked it pretty good for first but I feel like it moved a little slow. For second it looks like it’s just a repeat of first so I am not using it this next year. I am not really using a “phonics” program. My children read very well so I am just using Language Smarts and AAS level 2. I haven’t been homeschooling for very long. Is there a grade in which you start to not need “phonics”?
    Anyone out there use Abeka for first and second and agree with me that it repeats in 2nd?

    • I’d agree. 1st and 2nd are pretty similar. But depending on a child, that is needed to “solidify” reading/phonics rules and methods before becoming an independent reader. 3rd grade is traditionally the year when most students become reader independent. Meaning they can use all their sounds and phonics to sound out what they are reading. Also, this is the age where parents are typically confident in the child’s ability to read alone without have to hear the child as much. So, 2nd grade is typically a marriage of all the grades preceding it, mainly 1st. Think of it as a last “hoorah” before independent reading. 3rd grade is also where most programs begin to teach silent reading. In order to get there, students and parents need to feel confident that the child can sound out alone pretty well.

      Typically, phonics “falls off” by third grade. There may be some basic review in 3rd but phonics is not heavily taught. I have never seen phonics in any 4th grade material I have researched. I used to teach middle and high Language Arts and never saw it there either. By 3rd, most students have the necessary phonics rules to sound out words.

  12. Lake Lili says:

    We have had a huge problem with learning to read. DS has multiple language processing issues and we are complete phonics failures. We are having to learn using the whole word method and it is a matter of memorization. It isn’t fun and is immensely frustrating. I’d like to thank Erica for her Sight Caterpillars they have been wonderful fun. Does anyone have a whole word program that they can recommend?

    • Edmark Reading Program is the only one I have heard of. I think they pretty much did away with many of those philosophies when they realized that it wasn’t working for the masses.

    • Hi, recommend that you visit the All About Reading website. It is not a whole word program but it teaches reading differently that traditional phonics programs. It’s worth a look, I believe. You should go to the website and read about the woman who created the program and the learning issues her son had.

    • re: whole word learning

      Lili, you didn’t mention the age of you son, but I’d recommend checking out the BrillKids website . It is an early learning forum that agrees that both whole and phonics can work together – however, while the littles are little (baby – early toddler) or a bit behind, whole word works best.

      They have a product called Little Reader that we used when my son was tiny. It’s like a flashcard program that you can personalize by adding your own photos or voices. There are tonnes of free Power Point programs there that you can use, too. Another free option is “Reading Bear”. It’s a great program that I saw when it was in it’s Beta version, now that it’s “official” I think it would be an excellent tool (my son is past this point, but I”m sure we’d use it if we were needing these skills).

    • Lake Lili says:

      Thanks everyone! DS is a newly minted 8-yr old and finishing Grade 2. I appreciate your recommendations and am now off to look them all up.

    • Billie says:

      I use All about reading for my really struggling reader. It is OG based and is really recommended for dyslexic kiddos. It is mastery based so we go REALLY slow. Give them a call. Their customer service is phenomenal. For whole word learning you can use Picture me reading. It is fairly inexpensive. However, I highly recommend giving an OG based phonics program a shot. My oldest son is somewhat dyslexic and he was taught on a non phonics based program in public school. He can read on grade level (he’s in 5th) but has absolutely NO word attack skills. So, we are having to remediate somewhat. I know that my youngest who also has processing/language issues could learn faster with whole word, but I know that it I will eventually regret it. Just some thoughts:)

  13. I absolutely LOVE Abeka for reading and phonics is the early years. My son (4) is just beginning their program. WONDERFUL! I also have a 7 year old who is getting ready to transition to a 3rd grade curriculum. I find that Abeka is great K-2. In 2nd-3rd grade, I find is best to switch to another program. Abeka does not too much to advance and progress in reading (in my opinion) past 2nd/3rd grades (depending on where your child is comfortable reading at.) We made the switch to BJU in 2nd grade for my eldest. I still supplement because I’d rather my child read books as opposed to mini stories in a grand text. But for text book reading, BJU has proved worthy.

  14. We do Hooked on Phonics for basics and then my kids memorize the 72 phonograms and we found a “story” with all 200 sight words in it called “The Best Thing in the World”. I googled sight words and found it, but a better search would be “the Best Thing in the World”. Once my son knew the phonograms really well and all the sight words, his reading took off. My son who just turned 7 has been reading really well for at least a year and my daughter who turned 5 in January just started phonograms and the story. It takes about 3 or 4 months for them to know them really well. We started in the fall of last year and by mid year (Decemberish), he was reading pretty well. When we felt confident about his reading, I assigned daily reading of 15 minutes. This year I upped it to 30 minutes of daily reading. He is starting now to read much more than 30 minutes at a time without encouragement. One day he got a book that was 300 pages long and sat down and read the whole thing!
    One of my big goals of beginning school is to get them reading well as quickly as possible so I don’t have to do so much with them.

    • We also use HOP and my boys love it. When they are in K, we also add in All About Spelling Level 1. It seems to work well together for us 😉 My first grader is just finishing the first set of master readers level in HOP. He loves to read.

    • Thank you for mentioning “The Best Thing in the World.” Just googled and printed it off for my son to read! We’ve used a mish-mash of a lot of things…memorizing sight words, Bob books, HOP, Explode the Code, and All About Spelling. We’ve kind of “hit a wall” with everything we’ve used– except AAS. We finished AAS 1 and I have yet to pull out AAS 2– need to invest in a bigger magnetic white board. I have him read from AAS readers or books we find at the library that are appropriate, but even those aren’t ideal. *I* think he is doing great… he has yet to enjoy reading though. What I need to do now is teach all the different Vowel Combos and more sight words… I may just keep pulling activities from here and there because everything I have looked at he’s done a lot of!

      • This sounds like what I am doing with my kinder. HOP, explode the code, bob bks, sight word practice, etc…problem is he was in public school until a month ago and now I see they did no formal phonics curriculum outside of letter sounds! He is reading cvc words and he fluency is improving. Not sure if I should go back and teach a formal phonics curriculum like AAR level 1. Tried SSRW and that was to overwhelming to both of us! Any ideas or feedback would be appreciate!

        • Teri- I tried to do the reading and phonics the cheap way it just didn’t work for us. We have a daughter who can not hear the phonic sounds BUT some how we made it! and we are still making it! She can read, the only problem is spelling! What I’ve learned over the past 5 years is whatever curriculum you pick make sure you want to work work with it. If you have to spend the $$ on a program such as phonics I say do it. Fluency comes with time. Our daughter did not start reading until she was in 3rd grade and she reads on a 6th grade reading level. So by God’s grace we just keep going.. 🙂

      • Hope the story helps your child. The 72 phonograms are great too. You can google “the 72 phonograms are” and a word document will come up.
        I have found that they start reading really well when it clicks, if that makes sense. That is going to be different ages for different kids. Just keep working with him and he will get it.

  15. Just wanted to add another on favor of the Oridinary Parents guide to Teaching Reading! Covers everything in a great, cohesive plan, easy to use! I love it! We supplement with readers from the library and bob books!! I pretty much love every curriculum Susan Bauer Wise has done.

    • I love this program as well! So simple, straightforward, and when you finish the book, they can read anything! Has anyone used HOD’s Drawn into the Heart of Reading? I have been looking at that…. I also am using AAR Level One with my pre-K daughter before starting the OPG.

      • Colleen,
        We have used this program and really like it. You can tailor the program to fit your students interests and needs concerning reading level. I found this to be much more motivating for a child than dry readers. We read lots of genres we might not have, did more book projects, and took our time through each book selection. I used this for a literature class at our co-op and found it to be easy to use and very doable. I did add in literature terminology/discussion of things like simile, metaphor, imagery, personification, onomatopeia, types of characters (round, flat, protagonist, antagonist, dynamic,static) etc. that the curriculum did not cover. Teaching the Classics was also helpful with my class but I mainly used Drawn Into the Heart of Reading. The author’s book suggestions list is worth the $5, also from Heart or Dakota. Feel free to email me if you have more questions.

  16. My 1st grader and I LOVE the Explode the Code series. It’s great! He learns a set group of new words and uses them several different ways throughout the lessons each week. They are priced for any budget and a teacher’s manual is not needed. As for reading, we are doing the Abeka reading program. The phonics mastery program of Explode the Code works well with the Abeka reading program!

  17. Angela O says:

    Teaching reading has been a very frustrating experience in our house. We started with How to Teach . . . 100 Easy Lessons (boring and confusing), Phonics Pathways (boring), then moved to Veritas Press Phonics Museum (not enough repetition and then moved too fast at the end), then to Hooked on Phonics. HOP wasn’t bad, but it didn’t take my son far enough. I then tried ABeka, and it worked well to fill in the gaps he was missing. It wasn’t until we found All About Learning Press that we realized we hit a gold mine! AAR wasn’t even around then, so we used AAS, but that was enough! At that point, phonics began to really make sense. He is still behind in some reading areas, but he is improving each year. With my other two, We only use AAR and AAS because it works!

  18. We love All About Reading and Spelling. After my kids gain confidence we use real library books of our choice and plug them into a program called Drawn into the Heart of Reading. I used this alongside of Teaching the Classics at a co -op this year and we read from 8 of the 9 different genres covered in the DITHOR program. Anyone with high school students should look into Excellence in Literature by Janice Campbell. It is a self -guided tour through different periods of literature with great links and essay prompts.

  19. I cannot brag enough on Phonics Pathways. It is one book and so simple and the boys love it. I am using it now with my 6-year-old twin Kindergartners. They love the little character Dewey in the book and really connect with him. I am borrowing our copy from the library right now but plan to purchase soon. I think it goes on amazon for about $20 and we’ll use it for years. I believe the book goes through 3rd grade and is 266 pages. Lots of good teacher instruction included in the book, as well. Great for special needs kids (my boys have autism), adult learners, or anyone learning or brushing up on Phonics.

  20. Haley Aldrich says:

    We will be using All About Reading and All About Spelling next year. I did my own phonics combined with Sonlight Core A for my oldest (in K) who was already strong in letter sounds. He’ll start AAR 2 and AAS1 next year. My youngest is more math geared so letters/letter sounds have been more of a challenge for him. We’ll be doing All About Reading level 1 with him.

    • Hi Haley,

      I’m looking into starting with Sonlight Core A for my oldest (K) next year and am wondering whether their language arts and readers package is sufficient or do you think it’s good ot use an extra spelling program like AAR/AAS?

  21. We used “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons” (up to about lesson 75) to teach all 4 of our children to read along with the Explode the Code books and BOB books. I can understand parents wanting a school textbook like Abeka but it is just too scripted and filled with busy work for us. I want my children to have a love for learning and not just know how to complete a workbook.

    I think “All About Reading” is a good program too (used it with our youngest). Copywork and reading lots of picture books can also be a great way to develop reading, phonics, and spelling skills.

  22. Jennifer Valko says:

    We also use All About Reading. My 4 year old is just about to wrap up AAR1. I plan on ordering AAR2 and continuing through the summer to not lose the momentum. I also plan to start him on AAS1 when we start AAR2.

    For phonics practice I have been using Explode the Code. My son went from doing a page with my help in a few minutes to do 4 pages by himself in the same amount of time in just a few months. We are done with book 1 and I am having him use book 1 1/2 as extra practice over the summer.

  23. We are in our 17th year of homeschooling and our now teaching our 4th and 5th children (twins) and have used something different for teaching reading each time. This time around we are using “Reading Eggs.” It is an online, colorful, fun computer program that the girls use on their own. I am very impressed!

    We begin reading later by choice, so we started them at age 7 this past September. They were at a 4.25 reading level when we began and are now at a 7.25 reading level and reading fairly well.

    The one program we have used with all 5 children with great success are the Explode the Code workbooks. We use them for spelling, penmanship, and reading help. I can’t say enough great things about them.

    • We do reading eggs too and LOVE IT!

    • I just found out about and started reading eggs this past week and my son loves it. I love how colorful and animated it is. He thinks he is playing games and getting out of school work but he’s learning and getting reading practice with it. I think when our 3 week free trial is up I might subscribe for a little bit.

  24. We used a combo (switching back and forth a few times) of 100 EZ Lessons and the Reading Lesson with my oldest. She was an early reader and had finished both by her fourth birthday. She also read Bob books and a borrowed set of Sonlight K readers. We then began in the middle of The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Reading and began reading lots of early reader real books. We stopped several months ago with 20 lessons left and have just been reading. She just turned five and reads at a third grade level, but is not quite ready for the length of that level. So she reads part of each chapter and I finish or we just read lower level books. She loves Magic Treehouse! I realize she is exceptional so I’m still kind of feeling out for my younger two. My 3 1/2 yr old son has started 100 EZ LS (1-30) and is now slowly going through The Reading Lesson. He reads Bob books. With both kids the lessons are only 10 – 15 minutes so it’s been great for our family. If our budget can handle it I’d like to maybe use All About Reading starting at Level 2 in a few (or several) months, but we’ll see 🙂

  25. Does anyone have any experience or thoughts/opinions on McRuffy Language Arts program?

    • We are using it this year in first grade. We really like it and will continue with it for 2nd grade. My son loves the readers and the games that came with the program.
      Email me if you have any other questions.

    • We also use McRuffy Phonics and Language Arts. It is a program that includes everything. My daughter has loved doing it and I have loved teaching it. It jumps right into learning. The teachers manual is perfect for letting us know why they may have mis-understood a certain topic with several explanations. This is wonderful so I can understand what she is confused about, and make the correction. The customer service is wonderful. I encourage you to talk 1 on 1 over the phone and ask any questions.
      I plan to continue with McRuffy. I am looking into Explode the Code, but not sure if I would even have to supplement because of how wonderful McRuffy has been for our family.

    • Machelle Gastineau says:

      We used McRuffy also this year. I really liked it for Kindergarten, but felt just okay about it for 2nd grade. I felt like it didn’t have enough “word work”. Some of the activities geared towards this just were silly. It seemed repetitive in other activities also. As for the readers, both of my kids loved them and couldn’t wait to see what they would be reading the following week. I did like how it was comprehensive. The Kindergarten level came with reinforcement games. So, I am currently researching other curriculums to see what is out there. I also am looking into Explode the Code and All About Reading and Spelling.

  26. LOVE Phonics Pathways. At first I thought it would be dry and boring…not so!! My 5-year old took off reading and is on a second grade level. She is reading ahead of where we are in her phonics lessons. I can’t keep up with her. PP totally gave her the tolls she needed to sound her words out and she is soaring with that knowledge.
    Can’t recommend it enough!

  27. The phonics in MFW 1st grade seem to be teaching my boys well. We are doing AAS 1 as well which also reviews the phonics learned. MFW finishes phonics in 1st, which I like. We then will practice reading fluency in 2nd with Heart of Dakota’s emerging readers books (from the library).

  28. I love a lot of the programs already mentioned. I used Abeka 2nd grade with my daughter this year and she went from struggling to sound out each word to reading fluently with great comprehension. I wish I had begun Abeka this year with my Kindergartener because I plan on moving him into it next year. He used AAR 1, which was easy to use and understand, and the year before he used AAR- Pre Reading. Between the two I think he has a solid foundation and will grow quickly with Abeka for 1st Grade.

    • I’m halfway through K5 A Beka with my son and he’s doing fine, but I wonder if AAR would be better for us. You still think A Beka is the better choice?

  29. Michelle says:

    I learned to read with Abeka and I am using Abeka full curriculum for my boys. I love Abeka!! When my 4 yr old started reading, it was awesome! He is now 6 and reading 3rd/4th grade level books! The phonics charts and worksheets are by far the best I have seen to teach your kid to read!

    • So glad to hear that someone else is using ABeka full curriculum. I love it and just supplement with more technology and games.

      • I’ve used Abeka’s full curriculum all the way from Pre-K through middle school and found it to be be wonderful. My kids love it and they’ve become independent learners all around. My kids were reading independently at age 4.

  30. We love:
    the I See Sam readers
    All About Spelling
    and my 4 year old just finished Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. It worked for him.

    • We use I See Sam as well! We are now teaching our 3rd of 5 children how to read and he is picking it up just as quickly as his older siblings did. This is my husband and I learned to read when we were little!

  31. We use Spell to Write and Read (SWR) with Wise Guide to Spelling for phonics/spelling. It’s a k-12 curriculum, and we’ve used it through 4th grade so far. The only thing we need to buy after the initial purchase is a composition notebook per kid every year.

    When the kids were just learning to read we started with SWR and went through Bob Books, then Modern Curriculum Press readers. That set was spendy – but a little easier to swallow the cost since we can use it with more than one child. After that, we buy the kids their own books at the bookstore, beginning with “I Can Read” books.

    We also do LOTS of read alouds. We don’t do a lot of “literature” – by that I mean we just read aloud for pleasure, not a lot of digging deeper. I want to create a thirst that drives the kids to WANT to read, and read at higher levels, and I do that by introducing them to great stories. That thirst helps immensely with them learning to read. But when we do dig deeper, we love to use the literature lapbooks from this site.

    • I was wondering about the Spelling to Write and Read. I’ve been reading the 101 top picks book and with my son’s learning style and wanting to go with a Charlotte Mason Philosophy this one seems to be a perfect fit. Can you tell me more about it? Pros and Cons in your eyes… We did the 100 Easy Lessons book so he can read mainly the I Can Read level 1 books.

  32. Dawn Duvendeck says:

    I’d like to give a shout out to ‘The Three R’s’ book by Ruth Beechick – I used the method outlined in that book to teach my two oldest children, now 8 and 5, to read without any curriculum or expense. Note that I’m not a teacher by profession and personally feel that I am not even remotely gifted in that area! But her simple, practical step-by-step methods have served us well. As others have mentioned, we are also big believers in reading aloud regularly with children.

    • My oldest taught himself to read at 5. He had always been interested in letters and numbers since he was a toddler. I used SSWR with my second son and to me it was tedious, but, he liked it. With my youngest we are using ‘The Three R’s’ book by Ruth Beechick, BOB books and I just ordered Harriette Taylor Treadwell primer and readers that look fabulous! Cannot say enough GREAT things about Ruth Beechick and such a simple way to help your child to learn to read 🙂

  33. We are using Rod and Staff and love it! We used the Explode the Code primer series for prek and the first grade book for kindergarten I love that series, but wanted something with more. The Rod and Staff language arts is repetitive and does a fabulous job building on each skill. It explains the rules of grammar in a way that makes sense. There are many things I had never been taught before, but make such perfect sense. They use a very traditional method, but it works wonderfully. My girls really are mastering the skills. It is very challenging, but I appreciate that I am able to adjust the lessons as needed in order to slow down where we need an extra day. I actually like that the pictures are black and white. I find that the less distraction the better for learning phonics and reading skills. We supplement with other readers to add some fun reading. And you cannot beat the cost. Super material!!

  34. I’m using a combo of things Horizon phonic and reading K,, The Reading Lessons (love), BOB books (love) and will start the Bible Nuture Series from R&S and Pathway Readers.

  35. I’m using a combo of things Horizon phonics and reading K,, The Reading Lessons (love), BOB books (love) and will start the Bible Nuture Series from R&S and Pathway Readers.

  36. Courtney says:

    My daughter was never a fan of any ” program” while she was learning to read. So I just read to her …. All the time….. Whenever she brought me a book, or I found a funny poem. All day we would read read read. Through first grade we used Saxon first readers and spelling, and explode the code book 4…… Still she didn’t care for them , however, there is literally NOTHING she cannot read…. She is six. We will be using rod and staff reading and eng ( I liked this because it also covers her bible stories in the readers) … And I am considering also purchasing all about spelling …. It looks fun! But I don’t believe anything works better then simply reading with your children. has some great free printable reading comp worksheets as well

  37. I used Fun Fonix ( to teach my then 4 yr old to read in 3 months. She is now 9 and reading at a gr 8 level. It is a series of workbooks that taught letter sounds, then blends and digraphs, then common spelling/phonics rules like silent-e. Lots of pictures and great activities. Best of all was the price: FREE!

  38. We used your Letter of the Week and then K4 materials! We also supplemented with Starfall free worksheets and readers. My daughter starts kindergarten this Fall and is reading on a third grade level (I am a former elementary teacher so tested her just to “see” her level)!

  39. We use a computer based program to teach our boys how to read. The program is called Funnix ( and costs about $40 which provides you a CD good for about 2 school years worth of lessons. I would recommend beginning this program when your child knows most of the letter sounds although the first 20 lessons or so will review letter names and sounds. My oldest son began this program when he was 3.5 years old and really enjoyed the “computer-time”. He completed the first 100 lessons and is now half way through the second (and last) set of lessons at age 4.5. He went from knowing the sound each letter made (at 3.5 years) to now enjoying reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory independently before bed each night.
    Each lesson is divided into sections and the pace is completely controlled by the adult who is sitting with the child during each lesson. The adult has complete control of the mouse but the child interacts with the program throughout each lesson. Lessons are about 10 minutes in length. At the end of each lesson there is a writing/spelling portion. I would recommend this section if you have a child that is ready to write. We tried it for awhile with my then 3.5 year old and it was a little too much at that time so we just did the reading/phonics part.
    I would HIGHLY recommend this product! It takes about 10-15 minutes of time 4 or 5 days a week and is well worth every minute spent!

  40. We have used Hooked on Phonics and supplement that with Preschool Prep’s “Meet the…” DVD Series (letters, numbers, shapes, colors, 3 sight words dvds, and a phonics series) . I LOVE LOVE LOVE these dvds! We started with Meet the Letters – randomly picked it up at our local library – when my son was only 2 and he could recognize all of his letters (upper and lowercase) in a couple weeks. The most helpful series that they have is their Phonics series which has 3 DVDs covering Letter Sounds, Blends, and Digraphs. The Letter Sounds has extra helpful songs to help kids learn about the “controlling r” and “silent e” concepts. My ONLY complaint is that they don’t have anything out dealing with the vowel blends (so far). He has been able to breeze through Hooked on Phonics with the foundation that he has gotten from Preschool Prep. We started preschool in August with HOP Kindergarten and are almost halfway through HOP Second Grade right now. He loves reading so far and I couldn’t be happier!

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  42. For Pre-K type stuff, we watched LeapFrog’s Letter Factory, worked through Get Ready, Get Set and Go for the Code (my son loved these) and did “Reading Raven” on the ipad (highly recommend).

    For K we worked through Explode the Code 1 and 2 (and some of 1.5 and 2.5 with one son) as well as used some Bob Books and Fun Tales readers (Sonlight). Also worked through Evan Moor’s Daily Six Trait Writing Grade 1 (in K) which both boys have enjoyed.

    When we started our 1st grade curriculum this year with my one son (Reading Street), we were just where we needed to be. I have been very pleased with all we have used for this category. And I read tons of chapter books to them. Thankful for kids who love to be read to!

  43. We use Teach Your Child To Read in 10 Minutes A Day. I LOVE that book! My child reads extremely well now. She is in 3rd grade. I used a different approach for my 2nd child. She is doing mostly sight words. She just didn’t seem to like phonics but everyone is unique. I just wrote about that today…don’t get married to your curriculum or your teaching style!

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  45. Need help! I have a 5 yr old finishing kindergarten. He was in public kinder until 2 months ago. We now homeschool. He reads cvc words pretty fluently. We use explode the code, bob bks, sight word practice and have tried SSRW (it wasn’t a good fit). I’m finding he doesn’t have a solid phonics foundation though. He doesn’t read blends. I’m wondering if I should go back and teach a full phonics program now so he will be more successful in school (we plan on continuing to homeschool) or do kids just kind of pick them up in first grade? Was considering All About Reading level 1. Any feedback would be much appreciated!!!!

    • I think you might have to go back and teach him the phonics program. My son is just finishing kindergarten and we used Abeka, and is still learning some of the blends. I do think it takes boys a bit longer to learn all of the blends(my son does well on some, but then again we do have a month and a half to go) Sorry, I cannot help on the All About Reading,as I plan to stay with Abeka and have not researched others.

    • Yes, that’s what the creator of the program recommends. One of the strengths of the program is that it helps fill in learning gaps. You start with level one and you’ll breeze through the sections your son already knows. You should be able to easily identify which sounds or phonemic awareness skills he’s missing. You may find you can complete level in a few months and are able to move onto level 2. I highly recommend the program. You want to make sure you fill in the gaps because it can affect his writing/spelling later. Hope this helps.

    • My daughter had gaps in phonics also. I used Explode the Code, Beyond the Code and Reading Eggs. It was perfect for her and didn’t seem at all remedial or boring at all. Gave her the confidence and skills she needed to become a solid independent reader.

  46. Emilytwinmom says:

    I have a question – what are “cvc words”? I have twin 5yr olds and they have been reading for two years thanks to watching the leapfrog dvd’s LOL! I am trying explode the code level 1 with them this year, but they basically look at it like fun work since they know it all.

  47. I lean towards a Classical Method of teaching but use Pathway Readers and workbooks. (I really like these books!!! great stories, life lessons about living on a farm. I bought Hooked on Phonics ($25) at a yard sale, not really happy with it , but its all I was able to afford at the time. Just bought Primary Arts of Language (PAL) and All About Spelling Level 1. OF course we use LOTW by Ms Erica. and Raising Rock Stars by 1+1+1=1 , I am looking to buy new readers this year. I have 4 girls at various levels so I know I am not wasting my money buying something else. LOL 🙂 In case your wondering. For reinforcement I use various file folder games , computer games and printables I find online.

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  49. I have used the “Go Phonics” curriculum and love it!
    It is a K – 2nd grade Language Arts curriculum including phonics, phonemics, reading, spelling, grammar, punctuation. The complete curriculum set, while expensive, includes student workbooks, games, and readers and is wonderfully comprehensive. In addition, the customer service I was received has been helpful and encouraging too!

    See more here

  50. Elizabeth says:

    We love Phonics Road to Spelling and Grammar by Schola Publications. It is not for the faint of heart – tough and deep – but we are getting two great spellers and readers out of it. We are finishing up year 3 with the 9yo and about a third of the way through year 1 with the 5yo. I did have to rearrange the schedule of words for our attention spans. But going at our pace, we are all getting a great foundation. I am learning a LOT about why words are spelled the way they are.

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