The Writing Road to Reading was one of the first purchases I made when I began to teach my son. It was recommended on classical-homeschooling.org as being a great resource for teaching reading to children. It really is a great resource!
The Writing Road to Reading teaches a phonics based method for learning to read. Unlike other phonics programs it recommends using writing as the means to teach phonics. Children learn to write each letter as they learn the sounds that each one makes. As time goes on, they are quizzed by writing the correct letter for the sound they hear.
After the letter sounds are learned, the student progresses to learning the rest of the 70 phonograms (letter combinations that make certain sounds). The same method is used to learn these. You simply show the child a flash card with the phonogram written on it and then say each sound to him. He says that sound(s) back to you and writes the letters.
What I love about this method is that it is so thorough. Children are not taught just the main sound that a letter (or letter combination) makes, instead from they start they learn each sound that the phonogram makes. Both of my children caught on very quickly to this method.
Here is a post that I wrote almost two years ago showing a bit more about how I began using this book with my son: Reading and Writing in Action
Once you have the phonograms down, you move on to learning words from a very long list in the back of the book (it covers many years of instruction). Each child keeps a writing notebook where they can write the words that they learn. The point is for them to have a place to reference the words they have learned and study how they look and which rules they follow.
The Writing Road to Reading has a marking system where the child breaks apart each word they learn and notes which sound each letter makes, the breakdown of syllables, and any rules that are needed to read the word correctly. This is a little tricky to follow at first, but it really helps once you get the hang of it.
Here are a few pictures of what my son’s writing notebook looked like the first year.
This year I added teaching the spelling rules that The Writing Road to Reading incorporates. They are really helpful rules (many that I did not know!) and are not too hard to remember. I veered a bit from the recommendation of the book and made my own notebook that has one rule per page. We go over one rule per week and write down a few words that follow the rule. The idea is that once all the rules are learned, we will go through the word list in the book and add the words we learn to their appropriate rule column. Here is an example of one of the pages:
The one thing that should be noted is that The Writing Road to Reading is not a lesson plan type of curriculum (though I think you can get that from the Spalding website). While the book is very detailed in explaining the method, and contains a great wealth of information, you have to put together the lessons. I loved putting together these plans when I was teaching my son (and my daughter took two naps each day!), but now that I have two to teach (at different reading/writing/spelling levels) I am finding it hard to spare the time to plan this all.
I wouldn’t change using this book for the world. I think the method is amazingly effective. My son is a fantastic reader (and a very young reader) because of these lessons, but if you don’t have the time to put into it this might not be the curriculum for you. If you can handle piecing information together into your own lessons, or if you only have one child you are teaching to read and write, I heartily recommend The Writing Road to Reading!
~written by Amy Maze