by contributing writer Angie
Phonics instruction in early elementary school can help to build a foundation for a future strong reader. Two of my children spent their early grades in the public school system using a whole language approach and came out as struggling readers. My youngest began her school career at home with a phonics approach and was able to read and write earlier.
This can, of course, also be explained simply by differences in children, but I believe a phonics approach definitely helped to make this possible. One of the tools that we’ve used for phonics instruction is the Horizons Phonics and Reading books.
What We Like about Horizons Phonics and Reading Books
- Repetition – Children will usually forget concepts that are introduced and worked on just once or twice, unless they are extremely interested in the concept. Repetition is vital for internalizing concepts.
- New Information is Introduced at the Beginning of a Lesson – When new concepts are taught, they typically happen at the very beginning of the lesson. This helps to free up my time as a homeschool parent because I can help to teach the concept and then the student can work independently.
- Directions are not Complicated – While using the level one set of the Phonics books, I have not needed to use a teacher’s guide in order to teach the lessons. In fact, directions are so straight forward that my youngest often just reads them on her own before proceeding.
- Tests are Integrated into the Phonics Workbook – After every tenth lesson, the student takes a test. Since we don’t keep grades for younger children, we just use this as a chance to check the understanding of concepts that have been covered.
- Visually Appealing – Unlike dull, colorless workbooks, Horizons has colorful workbooks that are full of fun graphics.
What I Would Change About Horizons Phonics and Reading Books
The only thing that I would change in the Horizons Phonics and Reading program is that the phonics books are so chock full of lessons and tests that it can be difficult to finish in one school year. With the typical school year being 180 days, the 160 lessons and 16 tests of the phonics workbooks can be difficult to complete in a single year.
However, there a couple of easy fixes for this issue. The first would be to make sure that the student works on phonics every single day. Another option is to use the phonics books meant for one year over the course of more than one school year. For instance, we opted to use the level one phonics books, since there are two actual phonics workbooks, spread out over both first and second grade.
Other Information about Horizons Phonics and Reading Books
- Pricing – Pricing varies by grade level. There is an option at each grade level to purchase all of the books together in a bundle or to buy them individually.
- Grade Level Availability – Horizons, which is produced by Alpha Omega Publications, is available for kindergarten through third grade.
- Length – The phonics books in the program have 160 lessons and 16 tests. The first half of these are found in book one and the second half in book two.
We saw much growth in our daughter’s reading and writing abilities after we began using the phonics program from Horizons. We will continue to use it, and I feel comfortable recommending it to others as a great addition to their early elementary curriculum.