Homeschool Preschool – Phonics Vs Sight Reading – Which One Must You Choose?

Deciding to home school and home school preschool your child is a very bold decision. You have decided to take responsibility for your child’s education and not to leave it up to a stranger who might not have the necessary skills or your child’s best interests at heart.

Of course there are many questions that you will need the answer before you can begin. The main one amongst these is; which reading method must you use?

Over the last 150 years of reading being taught in a classroom, two reading methods have come to light and have vied for dominance; phonics and sight reading. Each one has its advocates and its detractors.

So let’s go through each one and look at their positives and negatives.


Phonics is currently the method in vogue and for very good reason. It is the sounding out of words, for example the word “cat” would be sounded out as “k-ae-t”.

The benefits of sounding out the words are that it allows you to see an unknown word and sound it out so that you can read it. Phonics is your “translating software” which you use to translate a word. It is also the best way to teach older children to read as they will already have a large spoken vocabulary.

For all of its benefits however, phonics has a number of glaring short comings. The first of these is that young children do not have a vocabulary big enough, that if they sound out a word they would know what it is.

The second is that young children don’t grasp what you want them to do. So if you show them a word and teach them to sound it out they don’t know why they are doing it and this can lead to boredom, disinterest and your efforts will be wasted or take a lot longer than it should.

Thirdly, there are many words that are sight words (among these most of the 100 most common words in English) and these cannot be sounded out. Some examples of these words are “the, he, her, one and people”.

Lastly, and most importantly, English is not a consistent language and as a result phonics has many different rules that have to be remembered and applied correctly.

Trying to teach a 2 year old the “rules of phonics” is no mean feat, no matter what anyone tells you to the contrary.

Sight reading

The Sight reading method, instead of teaching you to sound out a word, teaches you to learn a word like a photograph. You do not need to sound it out or spell it out.

This is similar to the way a Chinese child learns to “read” a Chinese character. This is also the way that adults read. We do not sound out the words but rather have memorized what each word looks like.

The drawbacks of sight reading is that if you encounter a word that you do not know, you have no way of determining how to pronounce it and have to rely on someone else to tell you.

Its advantages are that the majority of the most common words in English are sight words and cannot be sounded out by phonics.

Which one must you choose?

When you home school or home school preschool your child your focus should be on ensuring that you build up your child’s confidence and their passion for reading.

This can be achieved by firstly teaching your child to recognize and read the basics, and gradually working on improving their reading skills.

The biggest mistake parents all over the world make is to have a preference on which method to use. Your goal is to teach your child to read EASILY and QUICKLY. By choosing one method over the other you are limiting your child’s potential.

As adults we only sight read yet we insist on teaching our children only phonics. Yet by using both methods together your results would be 100% more effective.

As such, sight reading should be the first method that you use to teach your child to read. It is a great confidence builder and children take to it easily and without effort.

You can begin by teaching your child to sight read the 100 most common words in English. This alone allows them to read over 50% of anything written in English.

They will also learn to sight read other more complex words. Repetition is key and just as we learn and remember a word, so do young children.

Once your child is reading proficiently and has read a few books, you can then take them to the next level and teach them phonics. By this time your child will have acquired an ease with words and become accustomed to what words “sound” like.

This will not only give them well rounded reading proficiency but also ensure that they can read well from an early age.

Remember, reading is like riding a bicycle. Once your child can read, they will become better at it by reading more. The more time they have in the saddle (or book) the better they will be.

Reading, like anything else in life, is a matter of practice and the earlier you start teaching your child to read, the better they will be at it.

Homeschooling Conference – Here is One For Everyone

Usually a homeschooling conference is for parents with a request that children be left at home. And even if the entire family decides to go, some of them will have to stay at the hotel while the parents attend the conference. However, leave it to the folks in California to break with tradition and put on a conference which promises something for everyone, especially for children and teenagers. The Home School Association of California (HSC) is holding its annual conference in Sacramento from August 6-9, 2009. This year’s theme is “Finding Our Balance.”

The Conference is open to parents, children of all ages, vendors, consultants, and anyone else with an interest in homeschooling. Even visitors and guests are allowed, although they will have to pay a $10.00 per event registration — a small price to pay for such a wealth of information. The Conference promises:

– Innovative workshop sessions on homeschooling by well-known authors, advocates and experts
– Informative panels and roundtables featuring active members of the homeschooling community
– A wealth of exciting workshops for families
– Special hands-on activities for all ages
– Unique teen-friendly conference.

For parents, it does not matter if they are new to the home school, not yet decided if they will enter it, world or whether they are veterans. There is something tailored to meet the needs and status of all parents who attend the event. It would be a smart move on parents’ part to take the entire family and make this a combination business trip and vacation. There are registration fees which go up the closer you get to the conference dates. Grandparents and children younger than two are free. Those who are or who become members of the association pay reduced fees. Parents will want to check with their tax adviser to determine if all or part of the expenses are tax deductible.

Free Homeschooling Curriculum – Are Virtual Schools the Answer?

Families who are looking for a free homeschooling curriculum may turn to publicly funded virtual schools or cyber schools.

Virtual schools are charter school at home programs that are funded by tax dollars. Because these programs are publicly funded, they can provide students with free computers, software, internet access, textbooks and other resources.

Students who use cyber schools are considered public school students. Their coursework is directed by certified public school teachers who supervise their students’ progress through the use of testing, teleconferencing, e-mail and coursework reviews.

Two well known providers of public school at home programs are K-12 and Connections Academy.

Advantages of Virtual Schools

Virtual school programs allow families to take advantage of the benefits of home education without adding a financial burden. They also provide the structure and support many parents desire, and eliminate the responsibility for choosing curriculum, designing lesson plans and supervising coursework.

Cyber schools also provide children with an accredited diploma that is the same as those received by students in traditional public schools. In addition, some programs schedule field trips and other social activities for their students.

Disadvantages of Home Based Charter Schools

Because cyber school is essentially public school in the home, parents may not have the flexibility to tailor the curriculum and teaching methods to meet their child’s needs. Decisions are made by teachers and carried out by parents, leaving parents with little say as to how their children are instructed and what they are taught. Some programs even place restrictions on use of religious materials.

Virtual school students are also subject to government regulations above and beyond that required of independent homeschoolers. Depending on the state’s requirements, students may be required to submit to standardized testing and interviews by school officials.

Some homeschooling advocates fear widespread participation in home based charter schools will blur the distinction between public and private education. They believe use of government programs may lead to increased regulation and oversight of independent home schools.

Although virtual schools give many parents the confidence they need to homeschool their children, these programs are not without their costs.

Parents who desire structure may want to consider using a complete home curriculum such as A Beka, Bob Jones, ACE or Alpha Omega. Parents who are concerned about the cost of home education can take advantage of the many free homeschooling curricula that can be found in their local library or online.