Posted in Books, Education, Family

Homeschooling: Beginning with Phonics & Reading


am often asked what homeschool curriculum I use, so since I a working on planning for the new school year,  I thought I’d write a series of what we have found to work for our family. We have been homeschooling for over 19 years now, with five of our children having graduated from homeschooling!  We still have the other half to go!  However, this year begins an ending . . .  my youngest is starting school!  So, this first post is on phonics and reading.
Trade Books for Free - PaperBack Swap.I am not endorsing any specific place to get them from, though I do have links below where I have purchased some of them and as I have done research, the cheapest places.  I still ALWAYS check eBay for books and have gotten many FREE school books through  I list my “wish books” at least a year ahead of time, so I can be on some long waiting lists and hope to get them in time.
If you are just starting out with homeschooling . . .  not sure what you are going to do or where to even being, I recommend getting just one book and gleaning a lot from it and then going from there.  Actually, for just starting out, this is ALL YOU NEED . . . the additional books listed below is added help and just helps with boredom!  But the book I recommend is How to Tutor by Samuel L. Blumenfeld.  It’s broken down into three main sections:  (1) how to teach systematic, intensive PHONICS and READING  (2)  CURSIVE HANDWRITING  (3) ARITHMETIC PROGRAM. The first book listed below is actually in the back of How to Tutor.  This book explains so much and really helps to lighten a mom’s load of doing the basics and developing from there.

Teaching Reading & Phonics ~ Alpha-Phonics: A Primer For Beginning Readers
For our family, this has hands down been the best program for teaching reading and learning phonics.  I’ve tried several others along the way, and we always come back to this.  It’s simple to use.  With our older children, we used just the Alpha-Phonics Workbook (plastic comb binding) sitting on the couch, going page by page.. It’s a workbook, but not actually writing in it – it’s mainly for reading through It builds on itself and within just a couple of pages, the child is reading.  There is no preparation, no lessons to plan . . . just the dedicated time of 15-30 minutes a day.
With our third child, we started using a computer program, PhonicsTutor, that corresponds with the workbook.  This child just was not grasping the ideas, and when we got the computer program, it clicked and he learned very quickly.  He was able to have more hands on, and it is very repetitive and keeps going over the same lesson until the child has gotten everything right. There are no graphics or games so my child could not get distracted as easily.  There’s also  I LOVE THIS PROGRAM! So the rest of my children have used a combination of both the workbook and the computer program, though you really only need one or the other.  Read here on all the details of this CD program rather than me typing it all out!  And with the way we have worn through this workbook several times, I have been blessed to find it for free on!!

So, there’s the option of using one or the other . . . OR,  you can download the workbook on your e-reader – Alpha-Phonics: e-version which is great for on the run homeschool families, especially for in doctor waiting rooms or long trips.

Along with the above teaching reading and phonics, we have also liked the hands on supplements with Explode the Code, which is a phonics reading and writing program that can be used from Kindergarten to approximately 8th grade.  For our family, we found that the girls loved to do workbooks (writing and coloring) while the boys wanted more of the computer stuff and just to get school over with.  Our girls loved Explode the Code workbooks which consist of matching, reading, spelling, writing, copying, and more!   For our youngest, since he likes “doing school” with his older siblings, I will be getting some of these for him, starting out with Get Ready for the Code – Book A which teaches consonant sounds b, f, k, m, r and t.  And then next is Get Set for the Code – Book B which teaches consonant sounds d, h, j, n, p and s.  After this is Go for The Code – Book C which teaches consonant sounds c, g, l, q,  v, w, y and z.
When these first three books are completed or if your child already knows the basics, you can begin with Explode the Code Book 1 which teaches short vowel sounds while, skip ahead to Explode the Code Book 3 teaches open syllables, silent-e, digraphs (sh, th, wh, ch, -ng, -ck, -tch), simple diphthongs (ee, ea, ai, ay, oa, ow).
Explode the Code work great along with the Alpha-Phonics.  And definitely watch for these books on  
Join me next week as I share about what we have liked for penmanship and math.


Beloved KEPT Child of Jesus stumbling by faith ~ Married 30 years ~ Blessed Mama of 10 beside me & 2 at Jesus' feet ~ "Retired" homeschool mama of 22 years ~ Writer * Blogger * Reviewer ~

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