Finishing Hooked on Phonics Master Reader: Success Story

By: Keith


It took 4 years, and we had fun along the way, but yesterday marked the end of our Hooked on Phonics journey.  Neil completed the Master Reader program last year, and Alan finished yesterday.  Hooked on Phonics has been a pillar of our homeschooling since the beginning.  We started with the kindergarten level and went through the 1st and 2nd grade levels, culminating in the biggest challenge, Master Reader (which is one program that approximates 3rd and 4th grade level reading).  I’m taking time today to commemorate the milestone.  Life is full of milestones, but one that’s frequently overlooked is the transition to independent reading.  When the boys were first learning to put phonetic sounds together, every day was a teaching moment; every day was a one on one teaching experience.  Every day I’d sit with the boys, they would read, and I would correct them and help them and urge them along.  Those days are over (at least with reading).  Now, when I send them to read, they don’t need me sitting there anymore.  I admit, I’m a little sad about it because learning to read is one of the last vestiges of toddlerhood.  They aren’t cute empty vessels anymore.  It’s just another reminder that time really flies.  I’m also proud.  I watched Alan reading yesterday, and I remembered how I wasn’t as good at it when I was 6 as he is.  I remember struggling to read a bus schedule when I was 7.  Alan wouldn’t have that problem, and Neil…  


The Next Phase:  


The next phase is going to be reading comprehension exercises, a learning phase that will eventually lead to book reports and, later, real research.  They’ve mastered phonics.  Now they have to learn to regurgitate facts and interpret the sometimes opaque meanings of stories.  Now is when reading will add extra layers to their education and gets fun.  They don’t know it yet, but reading is about to become something more than boring, albeit necessary, drills and repetition.  Now they’ll get to read about whatever they want, and actually spend time contemplating it.  This will open up whole new avenues, like public speaking and rhetoric.  They aren’t tiny little kids anymore.  That’s sad, but it’s also pretty awesome.  Here’s the video of Alan reading the last chapter of the last Hooked on Phonics book from the Master Reader Series.  Unless we have more kids, I doubt this program will be opened again until I have grand kids (and I hopefully get to teach them, too!).  


Alan, age 6, reading his final Hooked on Phonics lesson from the Master Reader Program 



13 Responses to “Finishing Hooked on Phonics Master Reader: Success Story”
  1. Dennis P November 7, 2010 at 9:51 pm #

    Awesome for you and your kids. I’ve always loved to read, and I learned early. I kind of just picked it up at about 5 by reading sports pages! Really indicative of my future reading! My daughter is showing a real interest in reading, so I’m really happy about that, and I hope she can pick it up as well as your boys have.

    • Keith November 8, 2010 at 11:49 am #

      DennisP: Thanks! I didn’t read early at all. I think I was 7 before I could even read simple stuff. But, thankfully I picked it up quickly after that. That’s good for your daughter that she’s showing an early interest!

  2. evohomeschool November 8, 2010 at 11:42 am #

    You’re not done Keith, so don’t feel sad. They’ll still need you to help sounding out bigger words and looking up words in the dictionary, etc. Then of course there’s the correct way of forming a sentence and paragraphs, etc. It’s never ending. There’s always more to learn. Congratulations on this milestone. So what will you use to replace HoP?

    • Keith November 8, 2010 at 11:48 am #

      EVO: Good question. I started Neil on Magic Treehouse books. They’re easy and they’re a fun way to get into independent reading. But, I also started him on the Sylvan program for reading comprehension which involves beginning book report type questions on short essays. I’m still looking for a more comprehensive program for older readers. I sure wish HOP had something like that. Thanks for the encouragement!

  3. evohomeschool November 8, 2010 at 12:58 pm #

    I use the Sylvan vocab for my son. Interestingly he disliked the 2nd grade vocab puzzles and I moved him up this year to vocab success and now he likes it.
    I’m not sure if you’re familiar with some book generators so I thought I’d share just in case:

    I’ve found these helpful when looking for “the next book to read.”

  4. Jackie November 8, 2010 at 8:03 pm #

    My son is just starting the PreK versions — he already knows the letters and sounds from the leapfrog DVDs we got.

  5. Terrelle Pryor November 10, 2010 at 8:53 pm #

    I have heard so much about this program, I was not sure if it was worth the investment or not. We purchased Learn the Numbers, Words, etc and it has been a pretty good set of courses for our children.

    • Keith November 10, 2010 at 9:07 pm #

      Terrelle: it’s totally worth it. My boys learned to read entirely through Hooked on Phonics products. Alan’s reading (video) is a product of 2 1/2 years of K, 1st, 2nd, and master reader (3rd grade). You would not be disappointed to make the investment. Thanks for visiting!

  6. JoAnne November 12, 2010 at 12:55 pm #

    Keith, How old were your sons when you began? My oldest is nearly 3 and knows all his letters and sounds. He is beginning to sound out words by himself, and I thought I’d get him started on some instruction. I was going to combine the Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading and Hooked on Phonics, which I picked up at a kid’s resale shop for super cheap. Some are encouraging me to go ahead, as long as we keep it fun and he doesn’t resist, others are telling me it’s far too early. Thoughts?

    • Keith November 12, 2010 at 1:08 pm #

      Joanne: I started both the boys on the Kindergarten level right around their 4th birthday. My feeling is that whenever they express an interest in reading is the time to start. Some people say wait until they’re older and some think it’s best to start younger. The truth is that by the time the kids are in middle school you won’t be able to tell who started sooner or later because they’ll be at about the same level regardless. I learned to read late, but I caught up quickly. Those who start earlier do get out of the gate faster, but they don’t necessarily remain that far ahead. It’s for that reason that I think age is somewhat irrelevant. What really matters is if they’re interested and want to try. If your kid is expressing some desire then I’d say give it a try and see how it goes. He might pick it up really quickly and be a natural, or maybe you’ll find you should hold off a bit (and he’ll be a natural at it later). Good luck! There’s no harm giving it a shot as long as he’s happy with it.

  7. Christa February 1, 2012 at 7:05 pm #

    Hi Keith!

    I found your blog while researching Hooked on Phonics (it doesn’t seem like a popular choice for homeschoolers) and decided to purchase it based on your glowing reviews. We love it so far, and I’m not sure why so many people dislike it! I’m on lesson 5 with my five year old, and he’s doing pretty well. We repeat as necessary and I wonder every day how kids ever learn how to read in public (or private) school! Another plus for homeschooling, I suppose.

    I had a question for you, and I hope you don’t mind answering. I hear your son saying “period” at the end of sentences…I haven’t come across that in the workbooks yet, but they do have you point out the punctuation at the end of sentences. Do you have your sons say “exclamation point” or “question mark” as well? I’m not sure that my son notices the punctuation, he’s just trying to figure out the words, at this point. I do want him to notice it, so I was interested in how you approached it. Thanks!

    • Keith February 1, 2012 at 7:28 pm #

      Christa: I found that both my boys were totally disregarding the punctuation marks when we started. It was messing up their understanding of what was being said. They could read the words but they were missing the meaning. My solution was to have them say the punctuation marks (I even had them read the commas for a little while — also exclamation marks, question marks, semi-colons, etc… .). When they verbalized the punctuation it forced them to put the pauses where they belonged. The other benefit is that it let me know if they noticed the marks at all. Sometimes they’d blow through one without saying it, and that’s when I knew they weren’t understanding — just reading words mindlessly. So, to answer your question, I made up that technique myself. I’m glad I did, too, because I think it really helped. Now (my boys are 7 and 9 years old now) neither one of them has any trouble reading and comprehending. I never told them to stop saying the punctuation — they just sorta stopped on their own when it was not longer necessary. Hope that helps a bit! :-)

      • Christa February 2, 2012 at 7:26 pm #

        Thanks, Keith! I think it sounds like a great technique, and I think I will start it with my son too. I appreciate the explanation!

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