Changing to a different phonics program

This school year I had a great idea.  My son had used Explode the Code workbooks last school year and seemed to do fine with them.  My son loves the computer too.  So I decided that Explode the Code online would be a perfect fit.  I was wrong.  I was very wrong.  Why?

  • My son hated it.
  • When he had difficulty with one exercise it kept him doing the same exercise over and over and over again until he passed.
  • There isn’t direct teaching.
  • Clicking isn’t perfect and dragging and dropping isn’t either so his responses were not always recorded properly.
  • But above all…there was little retention.
I pulled him off his phonics lesson one day and we went to a white board and went over an area where he had been struggling.  He quickly learned the concept and applied it to his Explode the Code online exercises.  So I had a flashing neon sign in front of me telling me that maybe there was a better way to approach phonics with him.  
Let me pause here and state that I am not having him learn phonics in order to read, but I believe all children benefit from a strong phonics foundation.   My son is reading well above grade level, but his phonics and spelling skills lag behind.   I want him to learn phonics to improve his ability to sound out new words and to improve his spelling skills.  
I think my boys must have inherited my phonics gene.  English phonics make no sense to me.  The rules and exceptions to rules abound and I have no idea what rules should apply and when they should apply.  Now I did study phonetics in college and that makes perfect sense, but phonics – no way!  I’m a bit lost.  I needed a program that would work without me having to tweak it.  So I decided to switch.
I switched my son to Rod and Staff phonics.  It isn’t fancy.  There is nothing to click.  It is a simple black and white workbook.  It takes my son systematically through phonics skills.  At this point it isn’t something for me to hand to him and tell him to do pages 22-24.  I am approaching it by going over the pages with him explaining the concepts and then letting him complete the page(s) and then going over it with him afterwards.  Maybe we could have gone back to Explode the Code workbooks, but my son needed a change.  He said it all when I talked to him the other day.  He gave a sigh of relief and let me know that phonics is much better now.  


  1. Diane, Thanks for the feedback. Glad to hear that Rod and Staff has been working for you.

  2. I used ETC a long time ago….and I was frustrated by it because there were a lot of times that I could not figure out what blend they were using for the picture….I could think of words for the picture, but not what they were looking for….We now use R&S, and have been happy with it.

    Diane [SHS and FB]

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