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At the start of our school year we began using The Phonics Road to Reading and Spelling (level 1) by Schola Publications. Last year, I spent hours online researching to find the right curriculum for my family. Some of the things I bough last year were just not working for us. When I came across the website for The Phonics Road, I was completely enamored with what they had to offer. I was looking for a program that was all-inclusive- teaching grammar, punctuation, handwriting, phonics and spelling. That’s a lot to ask of a program, but I found that here!
I ordered the sample DVD on their site and watched it 3 times. The only thing holding me back was the price. It is really an investment to buy this program ($215 for Level 1). So, when I got in touch with them about doing a review, I was thrilled at the though that they would allow me to review it here. When she responded to me, she said she only wanted to do a review if I was serious about using the curriculum. So… the long wait in doing my review was due to the fact that I wanted to really get in and use it before sharing it here. I wanted to be able to be knowledgeable about it so I could give a good review.
Description from the site:
The PHONICS Road to Spelling and Reading provides an enjoyable and fun presentation of the material, learning to build the English language in the same way a carpenter learns to build a house.
Throughout the study, the parent/teacher is the Foreman, guiding the student through various skill levels. The student is an Apprentice for the first three years, then becomes a Journeyman in the 4th year as he prepares for The LATIN Road to English Grammar.
The Apprentice begins by learning the tools of his trade – single vowels and consonants, vowel teams and consonant teams. After these tools are mastered, the Apprentice uses them to build words according to the Blueprints (spelling list). Along the way the Foreman shows that words are formed according to Building Codes (spelling rules). Rules are set to songs – Rule Tunes – for easy memorization.
There are several things that you get with the program:
Blueprints – completed spelling list for the year with Rule Tunes
Building Codes– completed charts illustrating various spelling rules.
Tool Drill Cards – 72 color-coded drill cards with extra large print for easy oral drills.
The Student book has included:
Blueprints – customized paper for recording all spelling words.
Building codes – blank custom charts for recording various illustrations of spelling rules.
Composition – place for recording original sentences and final composition projects.
First Readers – 23 beginning readers for the student to illustrate.
Clipboard – custom trace and erase clipboard for writing practice.
Student Tool Cards – his own set of color-coded cards for use in various activities.
Pencils and Wet-Erase Pen
How it works:
You begin by learning all of the phonics sounds. You start with the letters of the alphabet, learning the sounds and proper formation. Then you move into vowel & consonant teams. This should take about 4 weeks- but we worked through that a bit more slowly.
The lessons are all on the DVD’s. You watch the DVD and it explains how to teach for the week. I learned so much watching these movies. I never learned phonics, so this has been so helpful to me. In the teacher’s manual, you have instructions, game ideas, rules & tunes to teach them, and all of the weekly spelling lists. As you learn the spelling words, you are reminded of the phonics sounds and rules along the way. This helps the kids remember the words, but also helps them understand the WHY of it.
As you get further into the program, there are some fun readers for the kids. There are no pictures, though. I really like this a lot. They get to draw the picture themselves after they read the words. This makes them actually read it instead of guessing.
I love having a program that is all encompassing. It has been a huge help to us to not have to jump around to different programs for spelling, phonics and reading. This program really can be your only language arts curriculum, making it well worth the price.
I love the rules tunes! My kids & I enjoy learning the little songs to help us remember the words. Songs always help me remember things!!
I love seeing the progress my children have made as they have used this curriculum. I am so impressed with the high quality of the materials.
I love how much I am learning along the way!! The teacher’s manual has a history of English language & I love learning where our words originated from!!
There are NO frills. It is very straight forward & organized.
This program is very teacher-intensive. You have to spend a lot of time preparing by watching the DVD’s each week. I like the movies, because she really teaches a lot in them. However, if you are not prepared ahead, you can’t jump in and do it anyway. You really have to have done the prep work for it. This is not a curriculum that your kids will do independantly either. You need to be right there teaching and working through the lessons with your kids.
Another con is the price. It is an expensive program! However, if you are only purchasing one program for all of you language arts, it is definitely worth it. I believe this program is a great investment that we will continue to use down the road with our other children. The teacher’s edition for each level needs to be purchased once, and then only student packs added each. I would think that purchasing Phonics Road would certainly be cheaper than purchasing four different programs.
We will be doing this the rest of the year…we will also be trying level 2 next year. It is an incredible program, and VERY well researched!
Disclaimer: I received the Phonics Road for free in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated in any other way.
Thank you for this review! We are starting our new school year January 7th and I invested in The Phonics Road for my 2nd grader and Kinder (planning to use it like you, actually… to introduce phonics to my K and to teach spelling to my 2nd grader who is very advanced in reading)… I have been nervous to get started, but praying it goes well. (I’m wishing I would’ve thought to ask about doing a review! haha)
We’re using The Latin Road now for my big kids, and we adore it. I’m looking forward to getting The Phonics Road for my little ones, and starting it next year! <3 Thank you so much for the review!
Jennifer Brock says
I love this curriculum!! You are right, though, it is incredibly teacher intensive! To me, it is well worth the investment. Also, you can sometimes find people selling used (or even unused) copies, which can save you a little money. But even at the full price, in my opinion it’s totally worth it!
My eldest has been through levels 1-3 and is currently on level 4 (she’s 4th grade). So, we have been doing this for a little while now. One other thing I would note that you didn’t is to not start Level 1 until 1st grade. I started my son in Kinder because he was reading and I thought he was capable. He was conceptually ready, but he wasn’t ready for the amount of work that is asked of them. He hung in there with Level 1. But it was Level 2 (in 1st grade) where I started to see him really struggle.
In my opinion, there is a big jump in the amount of work they are required to do in Level 3 compared with Levels 1 & 2, so there was no way I was going to have him do Level 3 this year (2nd grade). So, this year we are doing a review of Level 2 to make sure he really gets the concepts and then we’ll move on to Level 3 next year when he’s in 3rd. I won’t even attempt Level 1 with my other 2 until they are 1st grade.
Another piece of advice I would give is this. If you are teaching multiple children (so, you’re doing Level 1 now and you’ll be doing it every other year for a few kids), when you watch the DVD to do your prep, take copious notes in your teacher’s guide! Then, the next time you teach it, you only need to go back to the DVD if you need clarification on something. It helps a lot!
I’m curious to know if you’ve stuck with this curriculum or not.
Rebecca K says
Since i notice you have used both Phonics Road to Reading and Spelling as well as The Logic of English with your kids, how would you compare them? these are the 2 curriculums i am considering using with my own kids. I like that both explicitly teach the rules for phonics in a complete way and that both include writing and grammar to some extent. I have taught in the public school system for years and have issues with how all of these things are taught. The only issue I see with Phonics Road is I want to start my kids with cursive when they first learn to write, not wait until 2-3rd grade. How do these 2 products compare?
Anonymous Homeschool Mama says
I used this through level 2 with my older and only did a few weeks with my youngest. We were looking forward to level 3 , but issues arose between Barbara and her staff that got ugly. They weren’t helpful at all and were more concerned about being right than having a satisfied and potential lifelong customer. And at the prices they charge that’s a lot of loss of revenue. So, I stopped using it right then and after research found an even better program that is very similar and MUCH CHEAPER.
The program is call Spell to Write and Read and everything you need is in a kit for about $100! Each year you only need to spend $12/kid for new composition books that are streamlined for this program! There are only a couple small differences with the phonics rules, how to teach, and there’s no literature analysis which I think kills a love a literature. I found an ever better literature analysis program too that is super easy as well.
However, I hope you have continued progress with their program and anyone else who uses it. I have saved a lot of money by not purchasing it anymore.
Karyn Tripp says
Thank you so much for your comment! We no longer use this either, for various reasons.
Thanks for sharing. Please could you also provide the name of that literature analysis program you use? I really need one, especially for middle school aged kids.