Topic | Teaching Phonics 1st Grade

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  • Amber

    My son is in the Pathway reader: More Days Go By. I keep seeing/hearing phonics. Phonics are crucial. Is this true? He worked through the Modern Curriculum Press K phonics book which was way too easy, also he did the Pathway Learning Through Sounds and the workbooks that correspond with each reader. Should I be doing more? I do not really want to switch to a completely different reading/phonics program since he really likes the Pathway readers. Is there a basic phonics workbook that I should add in for 1st grade for the 2016-2017 school year? Also should he being doing English work as well? I have been eying English Lessons Through Literature. Has anyone done Reading Lessons Through Literature- is this a too rigorous phonics approach?  (This is the only phonics/reading program that appealed to me!) I feel like he is probably beyond the point of investing in SCM Delightful Reading? Thank you!!


    I do think phonics is crucial (for most DC), however, I’m also not a big fan of rigorous phonics.  I don’t think every single phonics rules needs to be shared with them.  I focus on the ones that pop up the most.  For example, I teach “the” as a sight word.  I’m sure it can be explained phonetically, but it’s just easier to say this word says “the”.  At 5 or 6 years old, my DC were fine with that explanation, and mroe than ready to move onto the next word.  Other times, I might go ahead and explain the rule, if it’s a phonome that will keep popping up in other words.

    We use McGuffey Readers for phonics instruction, which I think are pretty similar to Pathway readers.  I usually add in an inexpensive phonics book for review and a bit of handwriting practice.  I don’t think it’s needed, but they usually want to “do school” at this age like their big siblings.  😉  We’ve used Modern Curriculum Press or Explode the Code.  I just picked up Core Skills Phonics for my current new reader, and it looks good as well.  I think they are all pretty similar, and I look at the table of contents to figure out which level to buy.  I usually place them slightly behind of where they are reading, so it’s basically a review for them.

    In your shoes, I’d just continue with Pathway readers, possibly adding in a book if you think he’d enjoy it.  If the writing gets too much, you can skip those portions of the books…we usually skipped writing sentences or I’d have them dictate a sentence to me instead.

    I purchased RLTL, but didn’t think it’d be a good fit for us after looking at it.  It was very heavy on phonetic symbols, which I find they don’t need after going over the word once (McGuffey only includes the symbols when the word is introduced).  Visually, looking at all those symbols is a bit much for me!

    We love ELTL, and I use it a grade level behind, so my current 6yo will start ELTL 1 when she gets to 2nd grade.  It’s great for copywork, grammar, poetry, art, narrations, and literature.


    I have used All About Reading with my son.  We were using the pathway readers, but it wasn’t going well.  He wasn’t motivated.  We started All About Reading and he loves the activities and readers. It’s pretty hands on and easy to teach.  Just another option if needed.

    Karen Smith

    Sonya has written some articles on teaching reading and language arts using Charlotte Mason’s methods. One of articles in the teaching reading series specifically addresses phonics.

    You may, also, find Phonics, Basic and Intensive Phonics, and The Natural Progression of Language Arts videos in our Learning Libray helpful.

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