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                               The Old Schoolhouse Magazine
                                         The Homeschool Minute         
                                 How do I teach phonics?
September 11, 2013
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Mercy Every Minute   

The Wuehler Family

How do you teach children phonics? If your child is very young (ages 3-5) and is not getting simple alphabet sounds, you might wait a few months and try again. In the meantime, use his love for videos or games to get him used to letter recognition and phonetic sounds. Small children are created to wiggle and move and play in order to learn about life and their part in their own home and environment. If they are not physically ready to sit still for a few minutes of phonics instruction, they can still learn through other means like audio/visual/kinetic recognition and repetition.


If they are older (ages 6-9) and they still cannot sit still, then you may have to teach phonics (or any subject) in a more hands-on, creative way. They can learn while doing something else at the same time. It might actually help them to listen and understand better. If they are concentrating and using all their energy to sit still, then their learning gates may not be able to take anything more in. If you allow them to learn while bouncing or building or squishing something, they may just make a ton of progress. (We have two great articles on teaching fidgety kids in our 2013 PRINT issue.) Physical movement is a critical part of learning. Don't think of it as a disruption, but as a vital part of the process.


We all need to let our children know that we love them unconditionally and are never frustrated with them because they are not "getting it." This gift of love and patience will encourage our children to overcome any challenge that comes their way. They need to know that we are with them. And that means physically as well. We can't always hand them a workbook and hope they learn something. Children will learn; they just need an engaged teacher. And since God gave us this job; we can do this with His help as we seek Him!


Here are lots of phonics products, reviewed by homeschool moms just like you! There may be something here you haven't considered yet.


Let us pray for continued freedom here in America, where we are still blessed to be able to work with our children's natural gift of learning as we keep them Home Where They Belong.  





P.S. We inadvertently had the wrong link in our most recent issue of TOS for a reading product titled, You Can Teach Someone to Read: www.youcanteachsomeonetoread.com Please check this link out if you are in need of help with teaching a child to read. Here is what Debra Bell, author of The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling, had to say about it: "You Can Teach Someone to Read by Lorraine Peoples may be the simplest and least expensive way to teach a child to read."


Sponsor Article 

How to Teach Phonics


When you launch into teaching a beginning or struggling reader, give him a solid foundation of language skills with phonics-based lessons that include language arts. An effective approach (used by reading specialists) is phonics instruction that's explicit, systematic, sequential, multisensory, and applied--in spelling, worksheets, writing, and reading decodable stories. Engaging support materials will have him "chomping at the bit" to start each lesson. The goal: to empower him to fluently decode (sound out) most words to read, and to know the spelling choices and rules. If he's not sure of the spelling, he'll know what to look up. The long-term goal: He can more easily access the codes to read, write, and speak with greater ease (less stop and go, more flow).


From the start (alphabet), teach each letter/sound EXPLICITLY. Teach its name, proper formation, key word, and sound all in the same lesson. This is also prep for using handwriting throughout your instruction. It serves as the kinesthetic sense in MULTISENSORY. It helps to trigger the correct responses for both reading and spelling.


Using simultaneous MULTISENSORY techniques supports all learning styles. Some are visual (photographic memory), some auditory (remember what they hear), and some kinesthetic (hands-on). Few are strong in all three. Utilizing all three sends a stronger message to the brain AND strengthens the weaker senses.


Teach a good phonics SEQUENCE of patterns and relationships--well organized, filed in memory, and easier to access.


With each lesson, practice decoding words in a game--so it's FUN! It builds decoding fluency before reading a decodable story for the lesson.


Always APPLY the phonics skill to "make the connection" to the language. Include read alouds, activities, word play, word decoding games, creative telling and writing, worksheets, and decodable stories. He'll build confidence and have a more joyful, successful experience.


Go Phonics Program  


Holly Davison (designer and illustrator) partnered with mother, Sylvia S. Davison (author and veteran teacher for over 45 years) to create the Go Phonics Reading Program. The program was fueled by Sylvia's dream: to have engaging, integrated tools that would empower parents and educators to effectively teach a beginning or struggling reader. High on the list was phonetically sequenced, decodable stories that support an Orton-Gillingham sequence (to minimize confusion). Now there are 7 volumes and over 600 pages. To learn more about effective teaching strategies, and to download sample lessons and stories, visit: www.gophonics.com.



Reading Kingdom Try Reading Kingdom free for 30 days! Phonics is only one of six skills children need to succeed at reading and writing. Reading Kingdom is the only program that teaches all six.

ʺAs a homeschooler, the Reading Kingdom is the answer to my prayers.ʺ -- Colleen Dillon

The Familyman 

Cartoon by Todd Wilson


Be real,




Spice up your reading with these six fun and engaging activities, and see why All About Reading takes the struggle out of reading!

All About Reading
Raising Real Men    

Teaching a child to read seemed so scary at first. Although we loved to read, it seemed such a complex task to start to teach our first little guy. That was nearly twenty years ago, though, and after teaching seven children to read, there are few things we wish we'd known then:


God made us to read. He gave us His Word in written form and commands us to "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15) If He commands it, He's created us to do. Really, it's not that hard. Eventually, your children will read! This was a huge comfort to us with our late readers.


Teach all the short letter sounds before you start teaching reading. This will make the early days of phonics much easier! We get a notebook and write each letter. We take a day or two per letter and draw pictures for words that start with the short sounds of the letters for the child to color. We play "What does this letter say?" in place of Mother May I, giving fun tasks like "Take two kangaroo jumps," after they say the correct sound. The Three R's Series by Ruth Beechick has lots of great ideas for fun ways to teach the sounds.


You can't make a child be developmentally ready to read, though. If your child learns a letter, then some days can remember it and other days it's like he's never seen it before, he just isn't ready to read. There's nothing wrong with that! Kids that learn later tend to learn pretty fast. We had one child become a fluent reader at 4 years old and another at 11. They are equally intelligent--just different. By high school, both were reading at a collegiate level. One thing you can do in the meantime is to have them make the alphabet out of clay or play dough. That really helps some children cement the shapes and directions in their heads.


Keep your children motivated to learn to read by reading aloud and sharing audiobooks with them. That will remind them how fun and exciting reading can be. It will also teach them to understand the way written language sounds. That will be a huge help in reading comprehension once they are reading for themselves!


Beyond those things, any decent curriculum will do. Just follow the directions and watch God's amazing creation as the world of reading opens up for your child. It's a joy that never grows old! Isaac Watts wrote a hymn for children who'd just learned to read:


The praises of my tongue
I offer to the Lord,
That I was taught, and learnt so young
To read his holy Word.




Yours in the battle,


Hal & Melanie Young


P.S. We are delighted to announce that our new book is finally open for preorders. Click here and order it now for Christmas delivery! You can find our selection of audiobooks at this link.  


Ultimate Phonics
Ultimate Phonics Reading Program! Looking for better ways to teach phonics to your children? Click below to read our article ʺHow to Teach Phonicsʺ and learn how to teach phonics and reading more effectively. You can also try our complete Ultimate Phonics program for free. Click now.

A division of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine 

Whether you want to work on letters and sounds, word recognition, or exploring literature, SchoolhouseTeachers.com has classes that may be just what you're looking for!

  • Beth Gorden teaches a special class for toddlers full of sensory learning fun! Come along as we play and learn our ABCs.
  • What if your reader is struggling? Dr. Matthew Glavach has monthly units dedicated to helping your student break through obstacles to reading. He's also happy to take questions from you if you need specific guidance.
  • If you want to call everyone together and enjoy a family reading time, don't miss Marla Schultz's monthly Literature Kits. She will help your family experience stories through hands-on activities, cooking and baking, exploring, and more!
  • If you're looking for a way to help your child analyze literature, Adam Andrews gives you the tools you need to break down a literary classic each month and understand the literary elements involved.

Join today: your first month is just $3. After that, $12.95 a month serves your entire family. Or save 10% by purchasing a yearly membership: just $139.



Need some advice and ideas on how to teach your struggling reader?
Spotlight on 5

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If  you give your child a love for learning and a love for reading, you don't have to worry about gaps in his or her education.

TOS Article
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Creation Revolution

"To begin with, the basic law of biology states that life cannot arise from non-life, yet evolution requires that life came from non-life." 

Read more in the article
You're Not Weird, You're A Martian.    


Schoolhouse Library Are you a new homeschooler and aren't sure how to begin, or a long-time homeschool parent looking for new, fun resources? For only $25, gain access to a library of over 175 E-Books or audio books for homeschool support and encouragement from popular  homeschool publishers and TOS.

Contest Corner 

For the month of September, 2013  


Chess is Child's Play


Chess is Child's Play, is a 26 chapter, 302 page book written by Laura Sherman and Bill Kirkpatrick. It helps you to teach your children chess by breaking it down into small and simple steps. It can be used to teach children beginning at age 2 all the way up. It even taught me how to play chess. Each lesson has a mini game to go along with it to help cement in the learning of the game, which also makes learning chess fun!


The preface is full of the many benefits of playing chess. They range from sportsmanship to problem solving, self-confidence, greater patience and focus and so much more. The lessons are a chapter, a few pages long, that you the parent read and then teach your child through games how to play chess. The games start off very simple to help you learn each piece's name and how they can move. Chess manners are discussed as well. As you work your way further through the book the lessons build on each other and get more complex. Before you realize it, you know how to play chess, as does your child. You both will have a great time along the way as well.


While we do own a few chess boards our family had no prior chess experience. This book has made teaching chess easy. We were able to work on it 3 nights a week learning chess. Each lesson and game took about 15 minutes to master. I like that I am able to teach them together and then they can play the simple games together until the next lesson. We are all learning together, even me. My 3 children who range in ages 7-13 have all been able to learn together. (. . .)


(To read the rest of the review, click HERE.)


TO ENTER: Email Heather with your name, mailing address, and phone number for contact purposes, with the subject line, "Chess Book" for a chance to win* the book for your homeschool!


In this week's issue:

All About Reading

Take a look at what's new for Fall 2013 at SchoolhouseTeachers.com



Teaching Children
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