Posts Tagged phonics instruction

Why Did I Pull My Children out of the Public Schools When The Public Schools are Free? Well, because Moms do Strange Things When They’re Desperate! (From the President of Candy 4WAY Phonics)

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We lived in a small town in Michigan.  At the time, four of our six children had been born. Just like all of our friends, we enrolled our oldest son in public school kindergarten when he turned five years old.


Well, you know, “kindergarten,” not much going on there.  The early signs for how your child is “doing” in school do not show up until the first grade when a child begins reading lessons.  However!  Well, wow!  When Jimmy entered first grade, did we get an education! 


I had no idea that phonics was no longer used in the school system.  Oh, I knew that there were other methods of reading going on in the classroom, but I always believed that phonics was at the foundation of those methods. Duh!  I was so dumb!


No!  What I really mean is: I was misinformed.  I had learned to read with systematic phonics, so I assumed that my children would learn to read this way, too.  After all, wouldn’t our government schools insist on using the educational methods that actually worked?


We found out that “phonics was out” when after 6 months into the first-grade reading curriculum our little Jimmy could only read three words:  aanthe


I asked Jimmy to “sound out” the words we encountered together, and he said, “What are you talking about, Mommy?”


Of course, when I discovered that Jimmy was NOT learning to “sound out” words, I immediately went to the teacher and asked her why Jimmy was NOT learning to “sound out” words.  She said, “Sounding out” words is NOT something we do anymore.  There are other, better, more efficient methods to teach reading than phonics.”


Sadly, things got much worse! 


At the first parent-teacher conference, I also discovered that our dear, little, precious Jimmy had been placed inside a refrigerator box  so that he could “focus” more on his studies and less on what was going on around him.  That was all I needed!  That was going to stop! 


Jimmy was in an open-classroom school at that time, so we switched over to a standard, structured, public school classroom where a 20-year veteran X-Nun was the teacher.  Jimmy gained a tiny, itsy-bitsy, miniscule more in reading that second semester of his first-grade year simply because this X-Nun did use “some” phonics. 


However, at the beginning of second grade, Jimmy was assigned to a teacher that believed exactly the same way as his first teacher in the open-classroom school, except that she brought all of her non-phonics methods into a structured classroom.  Jimmy just couldn’t cope with these ridiculous reading methods.  In addition, by the end of second grade, we had also enrolled our second-oldest son in the 1st grade. 


To make this long story shorter, soon after talking with Jimmy’s principal and after our second-oldest son was assaulted on the school bus, I talked with a woman in Indiana who owned a teacher resource store who emphatically informed me that “homeschooling” was an option. 


I’d never heard of “homeschooling” before; I didn’t even know it was possible.  This lady told me that it was “very” possible, and that parents make the best teachers for their children.


So the following Monday I refused to put my children on the school bus.  I ordered a satellite homeschooling program and proceeded to homeschool my children thinking I was going to “get away with it!” 


Moms do strange things when they’re desperate! 


Little did I know that Michigan was one of the worst places to try to “get away with” homeschooling.  We had no laws to protect us, and we were running out of steam living only with an Attorney’s General’s “Opinion” about homeschooling.  As a result, tons of homeschoolers in Michigan were being taken to probate court as a direct challenge to their choice of education. 


Wouldn’t you know it, some lady in our church turned us in.  What was I going to do? 


I contacted one other mother that I knew was doing homeschooling.  She gave me the name of an attorney who was taking up homeschooling cases in the state of Michigan.  We hired him, wasted $200, provided all of our own documentation, and yet, he didn’t intervene for us with the school officials at all. 


Within two months after we began homeschooling, I received a phone call from a man who turned out to be the Chairman for the Homeschooling Investigating Committee for the whole state of Michigan.  He was the man who was taking all the homeschoolers to probate court.  When he called me, I told him I had hired an attorney to defend us, I refused to talk to him, and I hung up on him.


That was back in my immature Christian days.  Can you even imagine Jesus Christ hanging up on anybody? 


I do not mean this as a defense to myself in any way, but, moms do strange things when they’re desperate! 


Some friends from our church were visiting with us shortly afterwards, and we began discussing what the Bible says about how to respond to those in authority.  We specifically went over Romans, Chapter 13, where God tells us: 


Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.”


Needless to say, I was under conviction! 

When “that man” called me back, I apologized, and I explained to him what I had discovered in the scriptures.  We began to talk.  He listened, I talked.  He questioned, I answered.  I was honest.  I told him all of my fears about the public school system and the fact that I would not, could not, tolerate what was going on there.  He listened.  God worked! 


This man ended up telling me, “I will never take you to probate court.  You are the only homeschooler that has been willing to talk to me.  You have also told me about your beliefs, and I want you to know that I have been listening, because my secretary is also a Christian, and she has been telling me some of the same things that you have stated.  I give you permission to do homeschooling, and what’s more, if you need any curriculum, you just let me know, and I’ll show you how to order it for yourself, or I will personally get it for you.”


I began homeschooling and tutoring phonics to children all around me.  I grabbed onto every book on phonics that had ever been written.  All of my “teacher” friends, suddenly anxious to help me out, gave me all of their methods classes textbooks; coupled with my own learning experiences in phonics, I began to put together a systematic phonics curriculum based upon what was taught to children in the 1950’s who had struggled with the Dick and Jane, Look/say Reading series.  (Can you believe I put that all in one sentence?)

The results I obtained were outstanding!

About three years later, I began teaching phonics part time in a Christian School.

I came across all kinds of reading problems, and I soon discovered that linguistic, synthetic, analytic, systematic phonics solved the problems of every student I encountered except for the students who were diagnosed as EMI.  Oh, each child had a different time table for learning, depending upon his shortcomings and his talents, but given enough time, systematic phonics worked. 

Oh, by the way, do you remember “that man” that I had originally hung up on?  You know, the Chairman for the Homeschooling Investigating Committee for the whole state of Michigan?   Well, he gave our Christian school permission to set up a homeschooling umbrella program under my direction for other families considering homeschooling. 


When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him. (Proverbs 16:7)


In summary, we continued homeschooling all six of our children all the way through high school. 

They have become successful as business owners, in engineering, as ministerial directors, with two still in college studying pre-med and early childhood care. 

And, of course, we established the Candy 4WAY Phonics Program, a program based upon the true story of a little girl named, Candy, in order to make a complete systematic 4WAY Phonics curriculum, lessons, readers, multisensory phonics helps, phonics charts and flashcards, phonics resources, and phonics games affordable for everyone




Carol Kay, President

Candy 4WAY Phonics

Teaching Phonics Step by Step! Phonics Steps to Reading Success!

Posted in how to teach phonics, phonics steps, phonics steps to reading success, teaching phonics, teaching phonics step by step | Comments Off on Teaching Phonics Step by Step! Phonics Steps to Reading Success!


What Steps do you Follow to Teach your Child Systematic, Explicit Phonics Instruction?

The majority of American school children are not taught to read with systematic, explicit phonics instruction.  Little Billy was a typical example of a little boy with all the talent and brains in the world, but he was never taught systematic phonics.  By the time Billy reached the 4th grade, his self image was in the mud and so were his grades.   Moreover, Billy was fully aware that he couldn’t read.  In fact, he hated reading!  


Billy’s mother was concerned, very concerned.  She had watched her son anxiously for three years as he failed one school subject after another, turning more and more inward, avoiding eye contact with his teacher and with his friends, dreading school, choosing the wrong friends, and falling farther and farther behind in his studies.  Billy’s mother strongly suspected that the real reason for Billy’s low math scores, history scores and grammar scores was because of his inability to read and understand the words in his textbooks.


When Billy’s mother first contacted me, Billy had just begun the 4th grade.  Her question to me was direct and simple, and I’m so glad she asked it with such a determined resolve to obtain a workable solution. I was only too delighted to inform her that in order for Billy to gain good, strong reading skills, skills that would enable him to read every word on every page, he would need to start over again in his reading education and follow the natural progression of a COMPLETE phonics education. 


I shared with Billy’s mother these four steps of action that  any child must take in order to gain good, strong phonics skills.  Those steps are:  

1) Moms and Dads reading books to their children 

Reading books to your little one WILL NOT teach him how to read.  However, reading stories to young children does increase their hearing vocabulary and it does encourage them to, someday, desire to read those stories for themselves.  That motivation should be followed up by giving a child “phonemic awareness.”


2) Phonemic Awareness  

Phonemic awareness is a systematically-learned group of skills children learn that give them the ability to manipulate the sounds that make up our spoken language through the use of rhymes, multisensory helps, fun with rhyming syllables and words, and beginning word sounds.


For example, when a child learns that the beginning sound of the word “sand” is the letter s, and that the letter s sounds like the hissing of a leaky flat tire or an angry snake, that child can then determine in his mind that the written letter s, when spoken, is associated with a particular sound. 


Children who learn to read quickly have built up that “sound association” with every letter in the alphabet at an early age.  However, learning the letter sounds is just the beginning.  Children must now learn to “blend” those sounds together from left to right, blending all the way through a word; and that’s where “phonics skills” enter the picture.


3) Phonics skills  

Phonics skills are gained when children learn the relationships between letters and sounds, how to recognize those relationships in print, how to blend together phonograms, and how to spell words when they are audibly heard by using the knowledge of phonograms, spelling rules, and syllables. 


All of these skills are gained through the use of a systematic (linguistic) phonics program that uses a step-by-step progression of teaching. A systematic phonics program should cover all the major sound/symbol relationships, including consonants, blends, short and long vowels, consonant and vowel digraphs, diphthongs,  and the most common but tricky sound-symbol relationships.


A systematic phonics program should include spelling rules along the way, plenty of practice for each lesson’s topic through phonics review and phonics drill, various types of written poems, written dialogue, written story openers and story readers to expose children to a wide variety of written expression.


An example of the order of a systematic phonics presentation such as Candy 4WAY Phonics is as follows:


a)   Children learn the short vowel sounds and all the letter sounds.   

b)   Children learn to blend a consonant with a short vowel and then tack on a third letter to form CVC (consonant-short vowel-consonant) words. 

c)    Children learn to blend consonant digraphs with a short vowel in the same way.  

d)   Children learn the long vowel sounds to form CVC(e) (consonant-long vowel-consonant-silent e) words  

e)    Children learn blend all the rest of the phonograms into words working with one phonogram at a time, mastering one lesson before proceeding to the next. 

d) A complete phonics program should contain no more than 60 sight words.  Daily phonics lessons should be sprinkled in the correct doses at the correct times with  left-right reading practice, spelling rules, prefixes, suffixes, syllabication, compound words, rhyming, and alliteration, and varied types of excerpts including poetry, story openers and dialogue.  It should also include daily lessons that contain daily phonics drill, phonics charts, and daily phonics review.


Only after adequate phonics skills are gained (including a measure of fluency) should a child be expected to read for meaning.  To expect a child who cannot read every word on every page to read for meaning will most likely frustrate him beyond belief and quite possibly bring him to tears. 


4) Reading for meaning 

Reading for meaning includes more than just being able to answer Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How?  Reading for meaning involves learning to make inferences


When a child learns to make inferences, it means that he can read a page and draw a particular conclusion of his own, not from information stated directly in the text, but from information he has gathered from clues or hints in-between the lines of the text.


Click here to read more about how children learn to make inferences.   


In summary, systematic, explicit phonics carries with it certain sequential steps.   The above 4 steps of natural progression for a COMPLETE phonics education should be, of course, offered to every child in America.  Sadly, this progression is missing from most American schools. 


I’m thrilled to tell you, though, that little Billy (mentioned above) was taught to read using this phonics progression, that same progression offered throughout the Candy 4WAY Phonics Program.  As a result, by the end of his 5th grade year, Billy was able to sound out over 40,000 words


Each year Billy’s reading vocabulary grew as did his reading comprehension, and Billy grew up to be a responsible citizen of the United States, loving his family, his country, and his God.


It just doesn’t get any better than that!




Carol Kay, President

Candy 4WAY Phonics  

P.S. If you are an adult who missed out on “phonics,” follow the same steps given to Billy (above).  Skipping steps will only cause you to “miss out” again.  You’ll be surprised how fast adults speed through a good 4WAY Phonics program

A Balanced Combination of Reading Techniques??? “Bologna!”

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Just as it is impossible to have a pluralistic society, because one value system WILL eventually reign as dominant, so we can NOT expect our children to learn to read on a consistent basis when their reading instruction is left up to “a combination of reading techniques.”

The Public Schools using the lastest and greatest “Guided Reading Techniques” will often tell parents that they ARE using phonics. They honestly believe that if you combine “phonics” with “whole language” that you can concoct a workable “one size fits all” reading approach.

My response to this is “Bologna!

I raise two questions to this ridiculous belief: Why? and How?

Why mix phonics, which is proven to work, with whole language, which has so miserably failed American students?

The answer for this mixture is because most teachers today have no idea what phonics is, for they, themselves, were trained to read using whole language.

This mixture is also taking place because many parents who are still suffering from the effects of their own inadequate reading training with whole language are DEMANDING that THEIR child get phonics in the classroom.

So the American education establishment has mixed in what is commonly called “embedded” or “implicit” phonics with their old stand-by method of Look/Say. (Note: to read more about what is meant by embedded phonics and how it completely differs from 4WAY Systematic Phonics , please click here.

How can anyone combine two completely different reading methods and expect positive results?
The answer is simple. NO ONE CAN!

You see, one reading method will be “pushed” over the other, and the reading method that is “pushed” will dominate and eliminate any effects of the other. When whole language reading techniques are used, then whole language will dominate and eliminate the effects of phonics. Let’s examine this further by defining what is meant by “WHOLE language.”

“WHOLE language” is a method wherein the teacher uses connected words in print (not individual letters or their sounds, but groups of WHOLE words printed in WHOLE sentences) to introduce a child to reading. This is how it works.

The teacher gives the child WHOLE words to memorize. The teacher writes these WHOLE words on a word wall and tells the students to memorize each WHOLE word (about 400 WHOLE words a year).  The teacher tells the children that they will be able to memorize each of these WHOLE words by either remembering the first letter of the word, or by looking at a picture on the same page as the word, or by looking at the shape of the word, or by looking at the phonogram chunk found at the end of the word.

The children are taught that if they use enough of these “clues,” they will be able to “figure out” or “guess” the word.

My response to this is “Bologna!

Why would any parent want their child to “guess” at a word?

And why would any parent want their child to memorize ONLY 400 words a year totaling ONLY 1200 words by the end of third grade using a myriad of guided reading approaches, when they could be learning to sound out (actually read) 30,000 to 40,000 words by the end of third grade using a time-proven systematic 4WAY Phonics approach?

Doesn’t it make more sense to believe that parents truly desire that their child be able to read and blend together all the letters in every word they encounter?

You see, when a child can sound out a word from left to right, then you KNOW that “Here is a child that can actually read!”

If you’ve read my blog before, then you’ve probably heard the TRUE STORY of little Candy. If you haven’t, just click on the word Candy, because it’s a great story!

You see, little Candy learned to read, and YOUR child can learn to read, too! Your little offspring could be reading EVERY word on EVERY page, skimming through connective words and complex sentence openers, and progressing into inferential thinking

YES, all of that can happen with YOUR child!

Give your child one of the greatest gifts you could ever give him. Take a few moments today and check out The Best Phonics Bargain in Town!

For less than $10, you can give your child a complete systematic 4WAY Phonics Program and you can brush up on any phonics you never learned yourself.

Are you fearful that you won’t know what the letters and phonics blends are supposed to sound like?  No problem!  For just $10 more  you can purchase a package that ALSO contains an AUDIO CD-R in which you can actually hear EVERY word and EVERY sentence READ ALOUD on EVERY one of the 100 daily phonics lessons.  So if you are AN ADULT who desires to learn to read EVERY word on EVERY page in the privacy of your home, you can now afford to do just that!

Children need to read – really read – EVERY word on EVERY page.

Parents, you can make that happen for YOUR younger child!

Parents, you can make that happen for YOUR older child

Carol Kay, President
Candy 4WAY Phonics