Beyond Phonics

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Use this unique program to go Beyond Phonics. Not intended as a basal phonics program for beginners, you can begin using it supplementally as soon as your child knows the letters of the alphabet and the consonant letter sounds (that's why I've used "1+" as beginning grade range). This program can be used for basal phonics instruction beginning when you introduce long vowels OR for a remedial student. If you have an older child with insufficient decoding skills or one who reads slowly or with errors, this would be an excellent diagnostic and remedial tool that will remedy poor decoding skills and increase reading speed and accuracy. Its primary purpose is to twofold: reinforce (cement) phonics instruction and provide a bridge between reading instruction and spelling. Even very good readers often have difficulty with spelling. While reading requires a student to learn sounds associated with word patterns, spelling requires the opposite. It is often a matter of visual memorization, as there are usually several different word patterns that can make the same sound. Sometimes, the spelling word pattern to use doesn't even make sense phonetically - where is the j in education and graduate; where is the ch or oo in statue and actual? This program attacks spelling on both fronts -auditory and visual. Yes, it even includes those unusual spelling patterns just mentioned. Another less obvious benefit of this program is the development of student vocabulary. The author has taken great pains to include every possible word using a given pattern in her lists and stories. Children are, therefore, exposed to and learn these along with simpler words. And, as they learn and understand these words in context (as well as how to spell them!), they'll be more likely to actually use them in speaking, writing assignments and compositions. I think this program goes way Beyond Phonics in its benefits. In summary, I would recommend using another phonics program for a beginning reader, use the very first part of it purely as a supplement as you begin short vowel instruction, and integrate it more fully at the long vowel stage of phonics instruction. It depends on what phonics program you use. As this program goes beyond the scope of most phonics programs, at some point it will pick up where you leave off from the other. For a remedial student, just jump right in and use it by itself.

Now that I've explained all about what the program does, I'll bet you want to know something about what it is. The heart of the program is of over 100 word/spelling patterns presented in lists and stories. The book contains extensive information and guidance in using the patterns. The author has included a suggested sequence for presenting these and the patterns follow this order. However, if you are using a different program for primary instruction, you will want to follow that sequence. Other features which precede the patterns are: possible discussion and essay questions for the stories (see explanation later); activity cards to use for reinforcement exercises; common words to master early (in flashcard format); memory helps for some difficult patterns; question words needed to be learned (before wh pattern is covered); and a short presentation on contractions. Following these helpful tools are the word patterns. Each contains a word list and a story. The stories are word-intensive and pattern-specific, with as many of the word incorporated as could be without straining the story. That's quite a feat, since the author has attempted to include all of the words which use the target pattern. I have to interject here that she did a nice job with the stories. They do flow well, make sense and sound natural, considering the constraints involved in such an effort. Patterns are broken down by spelling as well as by sound. For example, -ou- has separate lists and stories for the "-ou- of young", "- ou- of out", "-ou- of you", "-ou- of four". Although the same sound is made by the -ou in you and the -ough- in through, -ough- is presented in its own list, because it is spelled differently. This is a very comprehensive, systematic way to present word patterns for both phonetic and spelling instruction. Target words are highlighted in boldface within the stories. Where exception words are presented along with the basic rule, these are boldfaced and italicized. To use the program, you first introduce or teach the word pattern. For young children using another primary phonics program, this will already be done. The student should then write the word pattern to be studied in the middle of the top of a sheet of paper. For a younger student, you will then read the story. You may have your child read the word list or read the boldface, target words as you read the surrounding words. A remedial student should be able to do this on his own.

Optionally, you then discuss the story. If you want to use the Biblical or moral teachings presented in the stories (depending on the version you use - see later) instructionally (for character building or reinforcement of Bible studies), you would take a few minutes to do so at this point. Then, you proceed with dictation. As you reread the story out loud, you would pause at the target words and have your child spell these words on his paper. An older or remedial student should write entire phrases or sentences from dictation or even the entire story (depending on age and ability). After this, you correct any spelling errors. Starting at about grade 2, your child should be able to do the corresponding workbook assignment. The exercises consist mainly of filling the target words into blanks based on context, using the same stories as in the book. This is a wonderful way to reinforce both spelling and vocabulary. The author has also included word search puzzles and an occasional crossword. After these are done, you can include any reinforcement/enrichment activities you want. As mentioned before, ideas for these are included in the early section of the book. Once you've gone through the Beyond Phonics program, you will want to keep it as a reference. As your children encounter spelling difficulties later, you should have them review the appropriate lesson using the same procedure above. Chances are, the misspelled word will be included in the word pattern list/story.

The author of the book describes herself as a "conservative, fundamental, Bible-believing Christian." Bible teaching and doctrine in the stories of the Christian version reflect her viewpoint. For many of us, that's just an added bonus to the program. For others, it may preclude using the program. So, the author has constructed two different versions of the program: one is strictly secular, with no Christian doctrines or Scripture, but with solid character building and morally edifying narratives; one is tacitly and unashamedly Christian throughout. You can choose whichever version you prefer.

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