View Full Version : Phonics problem

09-29-2009, 03:13 PM
I have a 5 year old boy and we are using Alpha-phonics to try and teach him to read. I am having trouble in that he is memorizing the words then when he sees a word that starts with, say m, he will say every word that he has memorized that starts with m. I've tried writing the words on flash cards, mixing them up, etc. without much change. The extra dilemna is that he wear hearing aids and doesn't hear the sounds well but he knows all the letter sounds and all the letters. Any suggestions for mixing it up to get past this or do I just need to keep plugging along? Thanks.

Shelly L
09-29-2009, 11:16 PM
Hmm... we used AlphaPhonics too. Let's see if I understand this right. When he sees a word that starts with 'm' he just runs through his list of memorized 'm' words, whether or not they rhyme, have the same second letter, etc.?

I'm not an expert on this stuff in any way, shape, or form, but just off the top of my head i would suggest that he needs a different type of reading intervention, based on his coping by memorizing, and also his hearing issues. HOpefully someone else on here will have more insight to this, but I wanted to encourage you that if AlphaPhonics doesn't seem to be working for him, don't hesitate to try something else, based on others' experience and suggestions, or even waiting a few months and just going over basic sounds with him to insure that he has the necessary reading readiness skills. It is not a crime to start reading instruction a little later, IMO, if necessary to make it the best learning experience for him.

09-30-2009, 12:42 AM
First, pray about it. Ask God to show you the solution you need. Ask Him to show you if you need to wait, keep plugging, get a different program etc.

consider having him practice reading left to right by covering the word and having him either spell the word first or say the sounds as they're revealed. This will help to train him to read THROUGH the word, rather than stopping at the first sound.

I have looked at Alpha Phonics and it looks like a good solid program. I can't remember how it is set up though. It is very "dry" though, isn't it? Add some fun games. And fun is mostly set in YOUR attitude about it.

I also really liked how 100 EZ Lessons did things. They have you 'hold' the sound until you get to the next one. For example if the word is "mat" you say mmmmmmmaaaaaaat, rather than m (pause) a (pause) t (pause) MAT. Make sense? Connecting the sounds and HOLDING them while the eye went ahead to the next one was very helpful for my 2 kids.

you might try simple things like CVC words and changing the short vowel sound only, like a game:


and then you can do something that changes only the beginning sound



I came across a FABULOUS idea for doing word families. It may be a fun thing for you guys to do.

I'd also suggest keeping the sessions SHORT SHORT SHORT! Like less than 5 minutes and doing it a couple times a day.

MicheleNJ from this board found phonics tiles at her local Dollar Tree. Something like that might be fun for you guys too. Make up nonsense words together.

Oh, and rewards are always good.

DD in IL
09-30-2009, 10:08 AM
How cool is that?????? Love it. Lowes, here I come.

09-30-2009, 12:22 PM
IMHO and it just that....my very humble opinion... I think he is just not ready. He is not reading, he is memorizing and guessing. Maybe take a step back and reinforce the letter sounds over and over till he gets that. THEN start adding sounds together. One day it will just click for him.

I have one ds who read at 3yrs .... one who read at 6.5yrs and one who read at 4.5yrs. All are very bright and all learned in much the same way, just at different ages. By reading, I mean GOT that sounds blended together make words and they were able to blend the letters and come up with the words themselves, without my help.

I would ditch the Alpha-Phonics and play letter sound games, with him looking at your mouth as you make the sounds to help overcome his hearing deficit. Maybe watch the Leap Frog Letter Factory DVD or any of the Leap Frog letter sounds DVDs. The paint chip reading word families thing is super-cool fantastic. I also had my boys "build" words using letter magnets on a cookie sheet. Same concept, just different medium.

5 is really very young and not every 5 yr old boy is ready to read.

09-30-2009, 02:55 PM
I would also suggest taking a break from Alpha Phonics and play some learning games such as Sound Bingo and matching words to pictures. Do a lot of blending practice so he hears the sounds blend together to form the word.

My ds does this too but he has auditory processing disorder coupled with dyslexia.

One book I found helpful is called Reading Reflex. Search your library; they may have it. It has some word games and blending games that work well. It could be that he is just a little young still and needs more time to pick up the idea of blending. But I would take a break from the curriculum so he doesn't get in the habit of guessing at words.

10-01-2009, 10:51 AM
I agree with Esther that he may just not be ready. I know that the Public schools are pushing them to start reading at 5, but so many kids are simply not ready. The hearing issues will likely cause a delay as well.

You may want to get a speech eval and see if speech/language therapy is appropriate. This may help him to get a solid foundation of Phonemic awareness and other key skills before progressing with reading.

You may also want to make this a school year of just working on letters and letter sounds. Have a week devoted to a certain letter in which you make it out of clay, glue yarn (or sequins, or stickers, etc) over a giant letter printed on paper, cut pictures out of magazines that start with that sound, play games as suggested by other moms in this thread (alphabet or sound bingo), and look for the letter in word you see as you go about your day (signs, in books you read to him).

Read to him lots and lots! :) FIAR is of course great for this. Show him how fun and amazing reading is, let him develop a natural curiosity and love of reading and learning by your example.

Sites like www.starfall.com have fun alphabet and beginning phonics computer games. www.enchantedlearning.com also has some fun materials you can use for him to cut, color and learn. The Leap Frog letter factory is also a fun way to increase his familiarity with letter and help him memorize names and sounds. Have him watch shows like Reading Rainbow to further foster the love of reading. Between the Lions deals with phonics, and will help him become aware of letters and letter sounds in a low-pressure way.

Get a whiteboard, and let him practice writing letters as large as he wants, or you write dotted-line letters for him to trace in bright, fun colors. Print out pages of the target letter in large font for him to trace with highlighters.

Make sure that his work environment is as quiet as possible, and that there are as few distracting sounds as possible. Our audiologist suggested that I use a karaoke to amplify my voice when reading so that it is easier for one of my daughters to focus on my voice and not be so easily distracted. If I amplify, it is less work for her to understand everything I say.

The main goal is to make it multi-sensory and hands-on, and to give him tons and tons of practice in a fun way that will not burn him out on school and reading. I have three kids with varying problems, so reading has been our biggest hurdle so far. I've BTDT! :) Still there, actually......

10-01-2009, 11:11 AM
Boys are typically not as ready as girls are to read. I had a friend that had her 4 year old son reading so I was convinced mine could do it, too. I also had a friend that is a Kindergarten teacher telling my all her children were required to know how to read before the end of the year. Boy was I wrong about thinking my son was ready! He turned six in April and his reading just took off this past summer. I've learned that just a few months makes all the difference.

His four year old brother, on the other hand, after learning my lesson and not pushing any reading on him, has been reading on his own:eyes:

10-01-2009, 03:25 PM
Thank you all - great suggestions. I have kept the lessons extremely short but I think I will step back and play some games and see if he likes this better. He is begging me to teach him to read but we'll try some of these other suggestions and see where it goes. Thanks for your support!

10-03-2009, 12:19 PM

I'm just now reading Ready Pathways by delores somebodyorother and REALLY like what I'm seeing in it. I also have phonics pathways by her that I want to look at also.

When you're reading aloud to him you can always point to words and have him tell you the beg/mid/end sound(s) too.

Oh, and LARGER PRINT is MUCH MUCH easier for kids to see.

10-05-2009, 03:22 PM
Did I ever tell you how long it took for Nathaniel to read?:eek:
Boys have a tendency to be slower in reading. He's still not fond of reading. He'll listen til you go hoarse and quit. He'll wait til ya get better before finding out the end of the story, cause he's not about to read it.:lol:

Rachel on the other hand.....I think we got to lesson 11 in the book and .....I haven't taught her anymore. She has taken off and can read very well. She loves to read and has started reading devotions at night.

Don't worry about the little man. He'll get it.

Do you have a dry erase board? You could write MAT on the board and have him erase a letter and then write another letter in it's place. Maybe he would realize that it changes the word.

Love ya!

10-05-2009, 04:02 PM
Agreeing with Esther and some of the others -- my middle ds is *just now* learning to read -- at 8. We started and stopped 4 times before he finally got it. I didn't want learning to read to be frustrating for him (or for me :lol:) so if I could see that things weren't clicking, we dropped it for about 6 months.

We started up again in September and he is flying through RME -- he's up to lesson 60-something and I think he won't need to finish out the book because he's started reading everything in sight. :clap: If you wait until they're ready, it will be a joy for both of you.