Friday, September 18, 2009

Rocketing into Phonics With Great Speed

Though my formal training was a double major in secondary education and English, I "accidentally" stumbled upon teaching kindergarten. 

It was working with kindergarteners that I was introduced to the honor of teaching someone how to read.

Wow.  Powerful.

I came to discover that there are products that work, and products that only create more confusion to an exception-filled language.  Kindergarteners like facts.  They like some predictability.  They like some structure.

Last year, Mr. Smackdown and I entered the world of letter recognition and basic sounds.  It was a horrible experience.  I was expecting my child to perform and behave like children in a large classroom instead of honoring the fact that he is my son, and I DIDN'T have to repeat familiar history.

I had MANY long conversations with the Lord about how I could share my love of reading with Mr. Smackdown, without carrying over last year's frustration.

Enter Rocket Phonics.  God heard my desperate plea.

What is Rocket Phonics?

Rocket Phonics is a unique reading program--multi-sensory and game-based--for children ages 4-10 that takes children from non-readers to 5th grade reading level in 1 1/2 - 2 years.
But Rocket Phonics is so much more than that . . .

From our experience so far, and we have been moving rather slowly, I can already tell that Rocket Phonics meets the many needs of different learners, from a kinesthetic learner  to an auditory student, to a visual pupil.

 (Can you guess what letter Mr. Smackdown is?)

You begin by becoming familiar with the sounds and letter symbols on the Play and Read game cards.

After playing a lot of fun games with your child, you can enter the book with gusto and allow the Rocket Phonics peeker to fly.  There is always great ceremony when the peeker travels to our school time.

In a short time, your child begins to sound out words.  It all happens in a matter of pages.  Herein lies the confidence boost.  After becoming familiar with the first 9 sounds, your child begins to read short words.  It opens up a whole new world that they didn't know existed. It makes them hungry to learn more.

Now, I am only going to give you a sneak peak at my truly personal current thoughts regarding this unique phonics program. Why?  I wouldn't be that believable if I said, "It's great.  Buy it!"

We are only 1 1/2 months into the Granola School year.  So, at the end of the Granola School year, I plan on giving you an extended look back at our experience with Rocket Phonics.  I will evaluate whether we continued to see huge strides being made in Mr. Smackdown's ability to read, his reading comprehension, and if he has further grown in his phonetic/blending confidence. 

Thought 1:  Off the bat I like the program because there isn't a lot of stuff.  I am finding that having to manage multiple individuals has made me less organized.  As a result, I can't handle "stuff" in the school room.  I need to see it easily and grab it quickly or it does not get used.  The entire Rocket Phonics program fits in a discreet, manageable box.  I don't even use the box at this point.  All I need is our current Rocket Phonics book (there are two), Rocket-shaped peeker and Play and Read game cards

Thought 2:  Mr. Smackdown likes Rocket Phonics.  It is fun for him.  He has had success.  He is my best critic of whether a program is an effective teaching tool.  He is learning and applying what he is learning when he doesn't even know he is learning.  (My logic is dizzying, I know.)

Thought 3:  I don't feel guilty about going at Mr. Smackdown's pace.  The Rocket Phonics book isn't set up according to days.  It has sections . . . but they don't make you feel like a section has to be completed within a certain allotted time.  An unseen person who doesn't know my child isn't bossing my child around about performing a certain way within a certain time period.

Thought 4:  Mr. Me-Too can easily jump in with whatever we are doing.

(Playing the game of Memory with our current letters/sounds.)

(Playing Bingo)

Thought 5:  Mr. Smackdown and I use the same book.  There isn't a teacher manual and a student workbook.  For some reason, Mr. Smackdown likes it that we are "on the same page."  (No pun intended.)  I think it makes him feel like I am learning to read at the same time as him--thus building confidence.

In summary, so far I think that the Rocket Phonics program is a well thought out phonics curriculum.  It has excellent instructions, that equip even the novice phonics teacher to teach their child.  In fact, there are provisions for possible problematic areas and troubleshooting suggestions to foster continued success for the student.

Rocket Phonics has stretched my ways of teaching reading.  I am beginning to think outside of the box, having fun with blending sounds, even if they aren't words!

The Rocket Phonics program is available for purchase for $160 or three payments of $53.34.  I would encourage you to jump over to their website, as I really have failed to do the program justice!  Also, check out what some other homeschooling families think of  Rocket Phonics!