teach your child to read

How to Use Phonics Pathways to Teach Your Child to Read

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Over the last 20 years, I’ve used Phonics Pathways to teach my children how to read.

And it was super easy to use!

The trick to using Phonics Pathways to teach your child to read is to go through the book one page at a time.

It takes time and dedication, but when you’re finished, your child will be a fluent reader.

Teaching children always requires a few adaptations to get the most out of the book. So let me share my best tips and tricks!

When to Start Phonics Pathways

Phonics Pathways does teach letter sounds. And by this, I mean that A says /a/ as in apple. B says /b/ as in ball.

To be perfectly honest, I’ve always found it easier to begin after the children know their basic letter sounds. It allows us to move more quickly through the beginning and gives my kids confidence.

That being said, ideally, I like to begin reading lessons when the kids are 4. We start by working on letter sounds, playing magnetic letters, and reading alphabet books.

Sometimes it takes a while for a child to learn their letter sounds. So don’t try to rush it. Just keep gently working on it.

They will get there!

How to Use Phonics Pathways

When your child knows their letter sounds, it’s time to start Phonics Pathways. This is going to sound so simple that it’s too simple.

I open up the first page that begins teaching and we read through the page.

This takes 1-5 minutes as my child already knows the sound /a/. The next day I turn to the next page and we work on the sound /e/.

As the pages get longer, I have my child read across the page. s – sa – sad. Remember, these are to build confidence and to get your child into the flow. And then we read the lists of words.

I simply have the child read across and down the page. Remember we’re only going for one page at a time.

Not two pages.

Not three pages.

Just read one page at a time.

And the pages include all the instructions you need. So read through one page a day and keep on moving.

What About Spelling

I’m going to be perfectly frank, I separate spelling and reading.

So as my children and I are reading through Phonics Pathways, I do not have them spell the words. We only work on reading.

Often young kids are ready to read before their handwriting is up to spelling.

Trying to combine the two can be frustrating for both mom and child. The kids don’t have the fine motor skills to write. And mom is frustrated trying to decide if she should move on or wait until her child’s spelling is ready.

I’m telling you to move on!

Later you can go back through Phonics Pathways or another spelling program and teach spelling.

For now, concentrate on teaching your child to read.

What to Do When You Get Stuck

Periodically kids get stuck.

Many pages introduce new concepts, although some do a review. I’ve found that sometimes there isn’t enough review.

The lessons get harder and harder. And eventually, a page is too hard.

When this happens, I turn back 20-30 pages to a point where the reading is easy.

Don’t get me wrong; it hurts to turn back so far. But it gives my child time to solidify their foundation of skills.

To gain confidence.

And to master the words.

When we read the original sticking point, they move right through it without slowing down.

What if Your Child Doesn’t Want to Read

Often kids look at the page of reading and think, this is hard. I don’t want to work. Let me play!

And they’re right. It is hard. It is work.

But it also needs to be done. Sometimes people will invent games. But that’s not my strong point.

I take the other option which is to work on Phonics Pathways right before something fun or motivating.

I scheduled Phonics Pathways before snack time for one child, and it worked beautifully! He happily completed his page of Phonics Pathways.

And that’s the secret: Always follow up Phonics Pathways with a fun activity that can be started as soon as phonics is completed.

How Long Will It Take

The length of time it takes changes from child to child and age to age.

My little 4yos who started Phonics Pathways finished the book when they were 6. But they could read anything at 6!

Now this time included a few breaks, and quite a few times, we backed up to review material or used other phonics books for kids to add some variety.

An older child will not take two years, especially if they already have some reading practice under their belt.

Then it may take as little as 3-6 months or perhaps a year or so.

use phonics pathways

Phonics Pathways is my all-time favorite program for teaching children to read. It’s systematic, complete, and super easy to use.

And when my kids finish Phonics Pathways, they read extremely well.

Which is better: Phonics Pathways or Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Reading?

Why I love Phonics Pathways

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  1. Hi there. My son, about to enter first grade) HATES phonics lessons. We’ve been using Phonics Pathways, but every lesson is a struggle (even with chocolate chips). I was wondering if you were familiar with Saxon Phonics and/or had an opinion on it. We use Saxon Math and love it, and think that Saxon Phonics might be a better option than Phonics Pathways.
    PS- Love this site. You’ve opened my eyes to the Classical Education movement, and I’m beyond thankful.

  2. Hi Sara! Thanks for your wonderful blog. I used phonics pathways for the last year with my oldest son from when he was 5-7, and you are right about how amazing it is. We would read about a page or two a day and then I would typically have him copy several vocabulary words. Eventually we built up to dictation. Just three or four words. As we continued, I would have him write phrases and eventually short sentences. He had already gone through a kindergarten program, so his handwriting was getting stronger, and most days he didn’t complain too much. As we went further along, I would also have him orally spell three or four words with his eyes closed, then we would finish the page and do our handwriting. Long story short, we got almost all the way through the book, but my son begin to get frustrated, acting tired and not wanting to write the sentences each day. He would whine every day when it was time (I should mention, we were doing it in the afternoon last year and I think doing more in the am this year should help). Anyway, we actually just stopped and I never used the book again (he’s now in a grammar program). My second son (4 at the time), would take the book himself when we were done with it for the day and literally taught himself to read by sounding out the words. It was amazing (he already knew his letter sounds). I’m so thankful for your article, because now I’m inspired to try Phonic Pathways again for my almost 4 yr old daughter this year, just in the way you said – to teach reading.

    So to be clear, you don’t have them to any writing till after finishing the book? None at all? Or just base it on the child?

    1. Hi Meredith! I love hearing about the success of your children using Phonics Pathways! And no, my children didn’t do any writing from Phonics Pathways. I kept writing separate from reading. That being said, I would base it on your child. And if you prefer to have your child write from Phonics Pathways, try doing the writing at a different time from reading. This way if your children get frustrated with writing, you can scale back without it affecting their progress in reading. πŸ™‚

      1. Hello! Thank you so much for your post! It’s hard to find any information about people who have used Phonics Pathways so yours was incredibly helpful.

        My daughter just turned 6 and I plan on using Phonics Pathways this year for her. She also knows most of her letters and sounds and I feel this will be a great starting point for us. I’m also considering keeping handwriting separate and working on her handwriting outside of Phonics Pathways for right now and possibly introducing it later when her handwriting is stronger. What did you do for the dictation though? Did you skip that or take some of the suggestions for non-writers?

        Also, the book mentions waiting until a certain point until starting to read “real books” but I’m at a loss what real books could be selected. Do you have any thoughts to share on how to select real books to read with phonics pathways? I anticipate my daughter will want to read real books as she’s learning but I’m not sure how to go about that!

        Thank you so much in advance for your thoughts and suggestions!


        1. Hi Jodi, Yes, I skipped the dictation with my kids. We simply read through Phonics Pathways without any writing involved as I kept my kids writing separate from their reading. I chose a different program for writing, but there’s no reason you can’t make life easy and do the dictation later to teach writing and reinforce their reading lessons. πŸ™‚

          The Bob Books follow a similar phonics progression to Phonics Pathways making them wonderful books that kids can read early on. My kids also enjoyed the old Dick and Jane books my mom gave us along with Dr. Seuess books such as Go Dog Go and Green Eggs and Ham. I like to give my kids books to read that are easy for them to read so the kids develop fluency and confidence. πŸ™‚

          I hope this helps!

          1. Hi, Sara!
            Thank you so much for your reply. Yes this helps a lot!

            What spelling program did you go to after this with your kids? I’m curious if one blends with this better than others.

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