Anybody Can do it With Hooked on Phonics!
Read my updated review of the new Hooked on Phonics K-2 Reading system here
Reading is by far the most important skill a person will ever learn and phonics is the best method for teaching it. “Well, Keith. How can you say that?” you ask. I have two good reasons for saying it. The first is that it has worked for my kids. The second is that it works for most kids; the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development says it works. In 1997 Congress asked the director of the NICHD to convene a national panel to find the most effective way of teaching reading to school kids. The full report can be read here at the National Reading Panel Publications. The bottom line, after all the scientific speak, is that the best way to teach kids to read is through “systematic phonics instructions” and “synthetic phonics instruction.” (teaching kids to convert letters into phonemes). The panel also emphasized the importance of one-on-one instruction and reading out loud. Hooked on Phonics employs these very techniques. But, the proof is in the pudding as they say.
The strength of Hooked on Phonics is in its intuitiveness. I am not a trained teacher yet I can sit with my boys and teach them as if I were. Each lesson is systematic. For instance, one of the first lessons in the kindergarten level is the “at” sound. Nobody needs a teaching certificate to figure out that adding a “C” makes “Cat”. That’s one lesson, learning the words that use the “at” sound. The next lesson is the “ad” sound, as I remember. And so on and so forth. One day, about a month ago, I brought out the second half of the second grade workbook and realized that my 5 year old is almost in the master reader level. I hardly remember going through kindergarten and first grade – intuitive. A parent can do as much or as little as his/her kid can handle on any given day, and progress is measurable on a micro, daily level. Sitting with my kids, guiding them through the lessons, and correcting them where they need correcting, makes teaching and learning ridiculously easy. Anybody can teach it and anybody can learn it.
Each lesson is designed to be performed by both parent and student. I instruct and listen to each lesson giving instant feedback. There is a double benefit to one-on-one attention. The first is that my kids do not have the opportunity to repeat mistakes before they get corrected, thereby making our lessons efficient; we make quick progress. The second is that it is impossible to go too quickly as long as I am doing my job. My boys sometimes have trouble. When they do, I can repeat lessons as many times as necessary until they get it. When all is said and done there is no real gap in understanding. There is no shame taking twice as long with some lessons if the result is their full comprehension of the material. We are well ahead of other kids their age, and we spend less time doing it. There is more time in the day to screw around in the park.
Neither of my boys has ever, as far as I can remember, complained about doing a reading lesson. They accept it as a part of their daily routine. The grade levels are packaged with progress charts and a sleeve of stickers. The boys put a sticker on the chart for every completed lesson. When they read the designated book at the end of each chapter they get to place a big “I Did It” sticker at the end. It’s quite satisfying to finish a chart and see it full of stickers. I feel a similar sense of accomplishment. Although the lessons are serious in nature the book is likewise full of pictures and a variety of reading games interspersed among the more challenging exercises. It makes for a painless experience.
Good reading skills is essential. Hooked on Phonics is ideal for parents who want their kids to be confident readers. It is also ideal for kids because it systematically builds their self confidence. It is fun, and it takes little time to see real improvement. With consistent daily practice the grade levels go quickly. It is a method that has been endorsed by leading educators. All we need to do is roll up our sleeves and spend a few minutes a day. That’s it. Even a guy who spent most of college watching football games can teach it (that’d be me). Hooked on Phonics.
All the science in the world is useless if the dang thing doesn’t produce. I’ve been using it for almost three years. Here are the results:
Neil, Age 6. Reading at the 4th grade-level. He is three lessons from completing the Master Reader program.
Alan, Age 5. Alan is reading at the 2nd grade-level. He will begin Master Reader in a month or two (grades 3 and 4).
This is a video of Alan reading a lesson. The first time he read it was this morning. He did it an additional time for the camera. We filmed the first version, but he wanted to do it again because he’s a perfectionist. I sort of am too, so I can respect that. Neil did not want to go on camera, and I respect that also.