A Guide To The Phonics Plus Program

by Jan Harmsworth

 Do you want a Program that offers 3 or 4 different methods of helping your child learn to read so that s/he can either progress much faster or overcome roadblocks? And a Program that shows you exactly HOW to do it?  You've found it!

It's a Program that's written especially for parents like you who want the best for their child, without educational jargon or buzzwords, who have no teaching experience but simply want to help their child learn to read. The Phonics Plus Program has it all.

The Program shows you how to build your child's Phonics skills step by step, supplies 80 exclusive, graded instructional readers for you to use so your child has new text to read, not the same ones that have been read many times before at school. And the Parents Books show you HOW to use everything - even supplying the questions to ask when you’re helping your child.

There’s lots of opportunity for you to design the Program you want for your child if you don’t want the whole Program. And there’s even help for you to write your own reading material if you want to do that. Very comprehensive!

The Program consists of 16 books of readers, each book containing 5 exclusive, graded Stories. Each Story has its own Teaching Page to help you practice the Phonics skills needed for the successful reading of the Story with your child. These 16 Books have been divided into two sets of 8 that we called Early Reading and Advanced Reading. The HOW to use the skills is found in the 3 Parents Books for each of those Programs.

The Phonics Plus Program uses four different, approved methods.  Reading, writing and spelling are worked on together because all three are complementary to each other. Each assists and develops the other. We’ve kept the Stories simple and short for a reason - children who have struggled with reading still view a ‘long’ story as daunting. Reading a shorter one successfully gives a real ego boost and ‘I can do it’ response. Just what you need! For children who just want to progress faster this enables them to do that.

Part of the Program involves you, as the parent reading to your child.

You can choose how you work with your child. You may want our complete literacy program that you can use for as long as you need it. Or you may be looking for an accelerated, short program which helps you identify the road blocks to success and the work to clear them. You have the control!

What Do I Get In A Phonics Plus Beginning Reading Program? 

The Beginning Reading Parents Book is a comprehensive introduction to reading. If your child isn’t reading yet or is less than five years old, you’ll need to get the foundation building blocks of reading in place so start here. This book gives you all the skills your child needs to begin Early Reading. (There are no Stories for your child to read attached to this part of the Program as your child isn’t ready to start working with text yet.)

In it you’ll find all the activities you need to start your pre-school child on the road to becoming a successful reader. These activities include :

1.     Hearing the separate sounds in a word (the beginning of Phonics)

2.     Beginning to develop alphabet knowledge (early Phonics)

3.     Playing the sound, listening, rhyming, letter, word and alphabet games together (more Phonics work)

4.     Using and understanding a wide vocabulary (introducing 'book language')

5.     Reading great books to your child

6.     Talking about these stories (beginning comprehension skills)

7.     Understanding how books work

8.     Using imagination to make up stories together (beginning story writing)

9.     Predicting story endings (beginning using clues to solve words)

10.  Holding a pencil correctly

11.  Helping your child work in a Beginning Reading Workbook

12.  Helping your child practice writing his/her own name and letters of the alphabet

13.  Finding out how children learn and how to praise, motivate and reward your child’s efforts

This Program is ‘gold’ for parents who can only get their child into day care or pre-school for a day or two a week, or have no opportunity to send their child to day care or pre-school. No need to worry that your child will be behind the others from the start of School - s/he won’t be! In fact the reverse is probably true!

What Do I Get In A Phonics Plus Early Reading Program?

There are three Early Reading Parents Books that go hand in hand with the eight Early Reading Stories Books and they show you 'how to do it'.

The three Parents Books that cover the first 40 Stories will:

- explain each Phonics activity

- show you HOW to use it

- suggest what to say and ask

- show you how to motivate and encourage your child.

- show you how to diagnose problems and fix them

- show you how to introduce new Stories

- supply all the comprehension questions you need

- show you how to help your child with the Phonics skills on the Teaching Pages

- show you how to introduce and practice new words

- show you how to reinforce previously learned ones

- show you how to help your child write sentences using Phonics skills

- show you how to help your child start a spelling word bank.

(We advise you to purchase all three Early Reading Parents Books as each one focuses on a different part of the Program.)

Each Story Book contains five exclusive, graded Stories beginning with Level 1. This has the simplest, repetitive text. These Stories are very carefully constructed so that your child gets lots of opportunities to begin Phonics work and re-read words that have been learned previously while learning one of two new words at that Level.

(Words to make the Story interesting are kept to a minimum so that your child achieves success without the confusion of lots of unknown and probably unsolvable words at this Level. This is a fault with many early reading texts found in children's readers.) The Phonics skills in the Teaching Page keep pace with your child’s progress too so your child feels confident to read the Story.

What Will My Child Learn In The Early Reading Program?

By the end of the Early Reading Program your child will be able to -

- recognize all 26 alphabet letters and their sounds

- solve simple words using beginning Phonics skills and meaning

- read 35 Essential Sight words

- spell up to 25 simple words

- write sentences using 5-10 words

- use information about how books work

- use early comprehension skills

- use simple punctuation in writing and reading

Once your child feels confident with all these skills then it’s on to the Advanced Reading Program!

What Do I Get In A Phonics Plus Advanced Reading Program?

There are three Advanced Reading Parents Books that go hand in hand with the eight Advanced Reading Stories Books and show you how to do it.

To know exactly what do to help your child, you need to purchase all three Parents Books for this Program because each one focuses on a different part of the Program.

You’ll find :

- exactly what to do

- what questions to ask

- how to help your child become a confident, independent reader.

- how to diagnose problems

- how to help you and your child fix them

- all the advanced comprehension questions you need

- how to help your child learn the advanced Phonics skills on the Teaching Pages

- how to introduce and use New Essential Sight Words and reinforce previously learned ones

- how to help your child write several sentences independently using Phonics skills

- how to help your child enlarge his/her spelling word bank.

There are five graded Stories in each of the eight Stories Books. Each Story Book contains five graduated family stories beginning with Level 41. As the Levels increase the stories become more interesting. They introduce more and more Phonics skills and new Essential Sight Words that your child will learn to recognize while still reinforcing all the Essential Sight Words learned in the Early Reading Program. This means your child MUST know these Early Reading words every time they appear because they’re the foundation of all the new learning.

The Teaching Pages that go with each Story list all the Phonics skills that you’ll help your child to practice to ensure that the skills necessary to read the story successfully are covered.

What Will My Child Learn In The Advanced Reading Program?

As you work through the Teaching Pages skills your child will learn

-  word endings used in the story

- common contractions that your child will meet everyday  

- compound words

- advanced Phonics work

As you write or make your own sentences for your child to read, the lists of Known and New Words allow you to make your own reading material at an appropriate level. If your child is older and needs different subjects you can use the lists of Words as guidelines and make up stories about things your child is interested in.

By the end of the Advanced Reading Program your child will be able to

- use advanced Phonics skills to solve unknown words

- use advanced Phonics skills in both reading and writing

- spell and write several sentences independently using Phonics skills

- read 100 Essential Sight Words (plus many more learned in the Teaching Pages work)

- use advanced information about how books work

- use punctuation in writing and reading

- use advanced comprehension skills

 By the time your child reaches Level 80 at the end of the Advanced Reading Program s/he will be a confident, independent reader. S/he will be able to use new-found Phonics skills, recognize over 100 words whenever they occur and read school texts and story books without problems.

How Do I Know Which Book To Start On With My Child? 

 If your child already knows some words then to decide which Book to start your child on do the Essential Sight Words test with your child.

- Start from Book 1 and ask your child to read the words going across the page but don’t help, just record the known words with a tick.

- Keep going until your child doesn’t instantly recognize one of the words

- Don’t check all 109 words, but stop the test when an unknown word has been reached.

- Praise your child for working so hard.

This is the Book to begin helping your child make progress. (It’s most likely that the Phonics skills for the higher Levels won’t be known either.)

It’s important that your child knows ALL the words prior to the unknown one. They are the foundations that you will build on to support your child as s/he learns new Phonics skills and words. If the foundations are insecure the reading will not be successful.

 Early Reading Word Test - Books 1-8


I    like     the     said                        


said     and     am     can                             


can     see     look     at     Dad                  


is     Mom     in     are     come     no


here     up     we                            


for     went     a           


it     you     big     my     to


on     so     looking     two     three     go     going           

 Advanced Reading Word Test - Books 9 -16


after     new     have     take     an     did     your


today     he     was     were     this     she     yes     down     came


then     where     some     they     all     looked     not     his     when     little                  


that      there     its     but     one     saw     into     away     with     do     got              


could     would     will     their     me     by     get     be                 


what     as     her     our     them     very     make     next     had     of     too


call     from     out     back     has     him     live     put     now     about     made

BOOK 16         

time     us     old     other     off     because     last     over

Once you’ve determined which Book your child needs, select the three Parents Books for that series. For example, if your child is ready to start at Book 5 then select the Early Reading Parents Books, as they cover from Books 1 - 8.  

If your child is ready to work at Book 9 and above then select the Advanced Reading Parents Books.

Once you’ve studied the Parents Books for the Program, get started and do the Teaching Page first.

Make and use Letter cards and Essential Sight Word cards to do the exercises with your child. And do all the work on the Teaching Page BEFORE you introduce the Story too. This way your child is ready to read the Story confidently.

(Make some letter cards to use to:

-  sound and make words

-  change the word endings

-  practice contractions and compound words

-  do the other Phonics activities

You’ll find examples of both the Letter and Essential Sight Word cards at the end of the Parents Books.)    

We also recommend that you purchase one or more Workbooks at the appropriate level. These reinforce what you’re helping your child learn. Have a look on the School Zone website where you’ll find lots of Alphabet and Phonics workbooks. These are ideal for supporting the Teaching Pages.

The following are some questions that parents raised with us during the trialing and development period of the Programs. If you have any others, please let us know because if you’re wondering about something so will other parents be. We’ll answer you personally and may add them to this list too.

What do I need to make and buy for this Program?

Each Parents Book tells you what to collect, buy and make to use the Program successfully. Many of the items are readily available at home but a few may have to be purchased. Set up the Program before you start teaching your child so everything flows smoothly.

How will I know when my child is ready to progress to the next Book?

Follow the 5 Day Session Plan found in the Parents Books. Every Day 5 you do an evaluation of the work done in the previous 4 Days. This way you’re constantly checking and evaluating your child’s progress. Once all the skills for the Level have been mastered then it’s on to the next one!

Can I use my own creativity with this Program?

Definitely! Please make reading material for your child but still use just the Known Words and the New Words that are listed in the Teaching Page for the Level. Use words that make the sentences interesting sparingly (and easy to solve using Phonics skills) as these are the ones your child may trip up on. Children love reading about their pets, holidays, sports activities and hobbies!

What are Levels?

We’ve tried to introduce the highest usage words first, so the early Levels have very common words that your child uses frequently. We’ve called the Stories and matching Teaching Pages ‘Levels’ because they do get harder as more and more words are added to the list of Known Essential Sight Words.

Why do I need to use the Teaching Pages first?

In the Teaching Pages you’ll find all the information you need to help your child read that story.

There are:

- Phonics activities to prepare your child for the story

- lists of word endings to help your child practice

- lists of contractions to show your child

- lists of compound words to demonstrate for your child

- helpful points your child needs to know to read the story successfully

- lists of Known Words for your child to practice

- lists of New Words to focus on

- lists of interest words to help your child with

All these lists assist you to help your child have a successful experience when reading the story.

Why is the preferred text format an IPad?

We experimented with laptops, Kindles, IPads etc and found that although the formatting looks great on, for example, an IPad, it may not be quite as good on some others. If you’re using a Kindle or an IPad, please enlarge the print to make it easy on young eyes.

What’s special about these Stories?

These Stories are specially written by two teachers who, between us, have specialized in teaching children to read for more than 30 years. We’ve used all our experience and knowledge to make these stories exactly what a child learning to read needs. This means they are truly instructional readers and your child will learn more and more skills as the Levels increase.  

They’re graded beginning with Level One, which is the very first introduction to repetitive text that your child sees. They get progressively more complex as new Essential Sight Words and Phonics skills are added in the higher Levels.

Each Level builds on the skills taught in previous ones so it’s very important to start your child off at the correct Level and make sure your child is confident with the Essential Sight Words and Phonics skills in a Level before moving to the next one.

Many reading programs have lots of words that make the story interesting. These are sprinkled throughout the story and make it more difficult, particularly if the subject matter is not something your child knows about. Our stories use the Known Words from previous Levels, one or two New Words for your child to learn and the least number of words for interest that can be used. We want your child to experience success with every Story when maybe that hasn’t been the case in the past. 

Why do I need the Parents Books?

 The Parents Books in the Program are the ‘GOLD’. You’ll find all the helpful information in the Parents Books that you need to help your child learn to read successfully.

While the Stories Books focus on WHAT to teach your child and the Teaching Pages help you prepare your child to read the Story, your Parents Books tell you HOW to do it (and the why of the help you give your child).

- They provide the questions to ask (and the answers so you know exactly what you’re doing),

- lots of information about checking your child’s progress

- how to deal with any problems.

- how to play the Phonics Games with your child at all three levels of the Program

- lots of opportunity for you to make your own Games based on those we supply

- how to produce your own text for your child to read

- if you like to know why you’re asked to teach your child a particular skill you’ll find the answer in your Parents Books

- they show you a series of steps to take at any point in the Program

This way you and your child always feel secure and confident that you’re really reaching your goal of helping your child learn to read.

If you have any questions you can contact us on customerservice@phonicsplusus.com anytime. We’re always happy to help!