Virtual School Resources: Review: Discover Intensive Phonics by Reading Horizons   

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Review: Discover Intensive Phonics by Reading Horizons

Don't you find that our kids are expected to know so much more at such an early age? I remember when my oldest was going into first grade. I had only thought about homeschooling at that point. She had gone to preschool each year for the typical Mommy & Me at 2, a couple of hours in the 3year-old program, and a half day for the 4 year-old class. Then she went to a private Christian school for kindergarten. My girl was learning fast and I just knew she would do well once she got to regular school.

You can imagine my surprise when my little rocket-scientist-to-be brought home a letter from her teacher telling us that she would be put in the lowest reading group. The LOWEST! I read to her every day! She knew how to read several of the books I read to her daily. I just could not believe she wasn't in the top group! Wake-up call! Evidently, the school she was in for first grade had an amazing pre-K and K program and most of these kids were on a third grade reading level. 

So, I scrambled. I bought a popular reading program (this was over 10 years ago) and got to work. The program was phonics based, and she took off reading. Within about a month's time, she was in the group just under the top level. It was a lot of work, but we did it. I only wish I had known how important it was to prepare her before she got to first grade.

When I was asked to review Discover Intensive Phonics by Reading Horizons, I jumped at the chance. I try to bring my readers the best educational resources available. The website looked amazing, and I couldn't wait to see what the actual program looked like.

I have to say I was initially overwhelmed when I got the package. For purposes of the review, they sent me a lot of information so I could really see how the program works. I must also add that this program is currently used in many school systems. I really love that they have a program for young kids, but also offer a different program for older struggling readers. According to a recent article in Huffington Post, high schoolers are reading at a 5th grade level. From that article:

The results come from "What Kids Are Reading: The Book-Reading Habits of Students in American Schools," a report by Renaissance Learning, Inc. The data covers book-reading records for the 2010-2011 academic year among 2.6 million students in grades 1-12 from 24,465 schools in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

I don't know how you feel about those statistics, but I find it frightening. As parents, we need to take back the responsibility of being sure our kids are reading at grade level. 

Using this program is easy once you understand the layout. The teacher's guide is in units and sections, and you'll find extras depending on whether students have had phonics instruction. Once you get the hang of the guide, you'll find the instructions easy to understand:

"At the conclusion of this lesson, students will begin to practice writing their names. Provide each student with a sample of their names written on lined paper."

This lesson continues with vowel instruction for the letter "a." That is all you will do for the first day. I have to add here that for homeschoolers, you could easily go through several of the lessons each day. I love that the program teaches writing, as well! You will also see different styles of handwriting so you can use whichever style is used in your child's classroom if they are in school. This is important as schools want the students to stick with one method.

The program I received also came with 4 readers. I like that they don't make the readers look like they are for 4 year olds as we often need to use them with older kids.

There is also an elementary CD provided with further instruction to maximize the program's materials. All in all, this system would be perfect to use with a beginning or struggling reader.

This program now comes as a software download, as well, making it even easier to use all it has to offer. You'll get a user name and password which gives you access to lessons. Each time a lesson is completed, your child will have access to other lessons. I think most children will be able to sit on their own to do these lessons, with a parent waiting in the wings in case they run into a problem or question. Future lessons are locked, which would be incentive to my kids to work at a good pace so they could unlock the next lesson! Your child will also learn vocabulary words after completing each lesson as this program boasts 10,000 vocabulary terms. Again, the student can earn points to progress to the next level. You even have options to change the way the background looks and make the voice a female voice or male voice, depending on your child's preference. 

Once your child has begun reading you will be able to access the library where you'll find 225 non-fiction passages from topics on sports to world leaders, and ranging from level 1 all the way up to level 12.9. You will have everything you need to prepare your child to be a fluent reader with this program.

After looking over both programs, I would definitely order the software over the books version. That's just my opinion, but I know most kids would rather be on the computer than looking at another school book! It would be a nice break from their other classes, too. 

If you have a child that is not reading, or not reading well, you need to check out Discover Intensive Phonics from Reading Horizons. Don't take my word for it. The company offers a 60 day money back guarantee. In fact, you can even try the program right now for 7 days for free. 

I would love to hear about your experience with phonics programs, and especially with Discover Intensive Phonics if you've used it. Please share in the comments below. 

I received a program from Reading Horizons in order to write this review. All opinions are my own. 

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