Category Archives: Reading

Phonics and Reading Programs for Early Learners

Have a child ready to learn to read? Don't miss this post where we discuss some of the top phonics and reading programs for early learners.

Last week we discussed some tips on how parents can teach their children to read. Today we are going to discuss some of the top phonics and reading programs for early learners.

Hooked on Phonics

I have used Hooked on Phonics to teach five children to read. I absolutely LOVE this program, and cannot say enough good things about it. Hooked on Phonics teaches children to read using the phonics program. Children start with short vowel words (-at, -an, -ap) and then move on to short i, short u, and then long vowel sounds. Every 3-4 lessons the child gets a review lesson where they also learn sight words like where, like, who, there, etc. At the end of this lesson they also get a REAL book to read. My kids were always so excited to get these books. They packed them around and read them to everyone that would listen. Hooked on Phonics is a fantastic program for teaching children to read!

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons

This is another popular phonics based reading program. It is probably best used with a child who had not had any reading instruction due to the fact that it uses an unusual formation of letters to represent sounds. Teach Your Child uses 44 different letter formations to teach children how to read. Using the letter formations eliminates problems such as the different sounds of certain letters when used in conjunction with other letters (example tan and than).

We tried this program once, and it was not a good fit for us. However the product gets great reviews from those who have used it successfully and many say that it is easier to use than other reading programs.

All About Reading

All About Reading is an intense phonics program for children in preK through 4th grade. Using the Orton-Gillingam methodology, AAR boasts the ability to teach 97% of English words phonetically leaving only 3% to be learned as sight words.

AAR is an interactive multi sensory program that is mostly open and go. The lessons are scripted but can be adapted with hands on activities, a child’s favorite book, and adjusting the pace of the lessons. AAR receives great reviews and is one of Cathy Duffy’s 102 Top picks.

Teaching a child to read is one of the best parts of homeschooling. When the time comes for this child I encourage you to take a look at one of these three reading programs. Also, ask around and see what worked for others you know, ask to see the programs in person. With a little help you can find the perfect phonics and reading program for your new reader!

Author Bio: Misty Bailey and her husband have been married for over a decade and have three beautiful children. She shares her struggles with time management, becoming unglued, homeschooling and finding joy in the everyday moments on her blog Joy in the Journey.

3 Tips to Teaching a Child to Read

Here are some tips for teaching a child to read. #3 is great!

Years ago when I was longing to be a teacher, my desired grade was 1st. Why? Because at the time this is the grade when teachers taught their students to read. I LOVED reading, and volunteered throughout Jr. High, High School and College in the reading lab.

When I first began homeschooling I started out with an eager 5 year old who was longing to read. We purchased the curriculum and got to work. To my surprise it wasn’t as easy as I thought it’d be! Fast forward 6 years and I am working on my 5th reader (2 of my own, 3 extras). I have learned a few things about what works, and what doesn’t. Here are three tips to teaching a child to read.

Immerse them in Books

From the womb we have read to our children. As infants we offered sensory books, as toddlers we offered board books, and at preschool age we began reading good quality literature. We have immersed our kids in books at a young age, and so far it has paid off!

Kids LOVE books! IF they are offered to them. In order to create a reader you have to encourage a love of reading in your kids. Reading often will give your children the longing to learn to read themselves. It will create in them a love of reading that will last a lifetime.

Be Patient

I am not the most patient person, and sadly that shows in our beloved phonics curriculum. In the first book there are pencil marks where I circled words over and over again that my daughter missed. I remember those moments; I remember the tears and the frustration (from both of us). And, I have left the pencil marks there. Why? As a reminder that patience pays off. The second book has little to no pencil marks in it, and you know what? She breezed through that book.

Patience is SO important when it comes to teaching a child to read. Patience builds confidence; and confidence is a skill that is required for learning to read. If a child does not feel confident in their own abilities they will not offer their best work. So, be patient!

Be an Example

This goes along to an extent with being patient. Modeling patience will encourage our children to be patient while they are learning. BUT, we should also model a love of reading. Let your children see you read, take them to the library, let them see you checking out books, let them see that reading is something fun to do. By being an example, you will encourage your child in their own reading endeavors.

These are just a few tips that can help when teaching a child to read. Come back next week as we take a look at some of the best reading curriculums!

Misty Bailey is a work at home homeschool mom.  She loves helping new homeschoolers and has a Homeschool 101 eBook for those getting started. She shares her struggles with time management, becoming unglued and finding joy in the everyday moments on her blog Joy in the Journey.




25 Great Books for Middle Schoolers

Homeschool methods

With summer here, and summer reading programs in full swing, it is a great time to make a book list for your middle school child.

These book series are great for those kids who are in the middle age range (10-12). Use discretion when choosing books for your child, each family will have different values and standards for their child’s literature choices.

Here are 25 great books for middle schoolers:

  1. The Bronze Bow byElizabeth George Speare
  2. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
  3. Shilohby Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  4. Esperanza Risingby Pam Muñoz Ryan
  5. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
  6. Love, Ruby Lavenderby Deborah Wiles
  7. Maggie’s Doorby Patricia Reilly Giff
  8. The Secret Series by Pseudonymous Bosch
  9. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
  10. The Three Doors Trilogy by Emily Rodda
  11. Pippi Longstocking by byAstrid Lindgren
  12. All of a Kind Family bySydney Taylor
  13. Owls in the Family byFarley Mowat
  14. Sarah Plain and Tall byPatricia MacLachlan
  15. Homer Price byRobert McCloskey
  16. Misty of Chincoteague byMarguerite Henry
  17. Armadillo Tattletale byHelen Ketteman
  18. Cheaper by the Dozen byFrank B. Gilbreth
  19. Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
  20. Nancy Drew Mysteries byCarolyn Keene
  21. Hardy Boys Mysteries byFranklin Dixon
  22. How to Train Your Dragon Series byCressida Cowell
  23. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  24. A Series of Unfortunate Events Series byLemony Snicket
  25. The Adventures of Tintin byHergé


Author: Misty Bailey Misty and her husband have been married for over a decade and have three beautiful children. She shares her struggles with time management, becoming unglued and finding joy in the everyday moments on her blog Joy in the Journey.

Over Twelve Great Family Read a Louds

Family Read a louds

Do you want to make sure your child gets the best education they can? Do you want to ensure that your child has a head start in academics? If so, then the most important thing you can do for your child is read to them!

A study completed years ago title, “Becoming a Nation of Readers” found that “the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success is reading”. Research has also found that reading is an accrued skill. Meaning that the more you do it, the better you get at it.

Reading to a child at a young age encourages them to read later in life. It becomes a habit, it is engrained in them, and honestly it helps them to develop a love of literature.

So, what are the best read a louds for families? Here are a few of my favorites!

  1. The Little House Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  2. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  3. Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry
  4. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
  5. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
  6. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  7. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
  8. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater
  9. Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne
  10. Stuart Little by A.A. Milne
  11. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  12. Paddington by Michael Bond

These are just a few of some of our families favorite read a louds!



Randi’s Curriculum Choices


Randi’s Curriculum Choices

There are way too many curriculum choices.  Some are excellent and a lot are not!  In creating this list, I didn’t want to add to all the noise and burden parents to just buy more stuff to put on their shelves. I wanted to keep my recommendations to only the books that are very, very special.  There are many more books, but most people don’t have very much time and their children don’t either.  So read and use the really good books first and then if time permits, read the rest.

Early Learners



  • Leading Little Ones to God/Marian Schooland (Best written beginning devotions)
  • Big Thoughts for Little Thinkers/Joey Allen Series of Books on Theology for Little Ones
  • Proverbs For Parenting/  (Must have book for training and disciplining children. Categories include: lying, fighting, honesty and many others)



Georgia State History

  • This is Your Georgia by Bernice McCullar ISBN:0-932659-01-2

Middle/High School


Science and Geography

  • Exploring Our World by Tony Hare ISBN:0-7651-1027-x – This is an excellent book to use with all ages of children.  It can be used as a Geography or Environmental Science book from an ecological zone perspective.  Enhance study by using lapbooking techniques.  Its easy to use the unit study and Dina Zike’s dioramas to make the nine biomes come alive!
  • Hands-On Chemistry Activities with Real-Life Applications for grades 8-12.  by Norman Herr ISBN: 0-87628-262-1 – Now this is the way to study Chemistry!  Your students will learn more about Chemistry by working through this book than any old textbook.  You may have to invest in a few things that you can get from Carolina Biological Supply or some other supply house, but you can do this book with the whole family.  Fun and educational! Start this book in 8th or 9th grade, go slow and do 3-5 pages at a time.  Leave enough time to do the Bob Jones Chemistry textbook and you will have a great science student!

History –

  • Quest of a Hemisphere by Donzella Cross Boyle published by Western Islands – Don’t miss this great history book! ” Written in an engaging narrative style, Quest of a Hemisphere is a factual American history written from documents, manuscripts, journals, diaries, letters, newspapers, and rare books…  Illustrations feature the art of historical periods – reproductions of sketches and paintings, portraits of famous men by artists of their time, and copies of documents in the original style of printing.”  This is a great book for the Charlotte Mason approach or unit studies.

Government –

  • God and Government I and II by Gary DeMar – These books are great for read aloud and discussion.  Although there are many questions, the author follows up with the answers which are probably better for study than answering the questions for yourself.
  • Government by the People by David Magleby ISBN: 0-13-192159-2Generally used as a college textbook, this surprisingly well written government book is interesting and covers all the points that allows students to test out of their college government course.  Be sure to take the CLEP or SAT Subject Exam after completing this book!

Mathematics –

Don’t tell your child you were terrible at math!  The best way to teach math is to purchase a copy for yourself and a copy for your child and do the problems along with her.  I promise, it won’t be as hard as when you were in school. You will be so glad you did this!

  • College Outline Series – Pre Algebra ISBN , Introductory Algebra ISBN 0-15-601524-2, and Intermediate Algebra ISBN 0-15-601522-6Over and over this is my favorite set of Algebra books.  The subject Pre Algebra is essentially fractions, decimals, and percents which are usually taught in 7th and 8th grade.  Even with my public and private school kids, I have to pull out this book to help them learn concepts.  It is more systematically written and clearer than any other textbook I have used.  Once a person uses a well programmed textbook, they never go back!
  • Geometry – Notables Interactive Study Notebook ISBN 0-07-868213-4 – This is a consumable workbook that makes a very good Geometry textbook.  It doesn’t focus heavily on proofs, which is a good thing.
  • Videos – Chalk Dust – Chalk Dust might cost more than other videos but it does a better job and you can always resell it, so your net cost is not so great.
  • Prentice Hall Math Textbooks – Better than Glencoe and way better than McDougal Littel!  What does better mean?  Better formatting, better questions, better explanations.

Life Skills –

  • Just Do Something/Kevin DeYoung (Making Good Decisions)  Helps the reader understand that determining your career calling is not as important as establishing proactive behaviors to bloom where you are planted!

Special Needs

Textbooks for HI/LO – High interest for middle thru high school, low reading level 3-4 with larger than normal print, shorter chapters,  and clear questions. When your student has learned how to read and you want to transition him to a textbook.  These are good choices.  Interestingly, these are also good choices for the very young, academically gifted child.

AGS Globe, now part of Pearson has great textbooks for Mathematics, Science, Social Studies and Language Arts.


The National Bible Bee for ages 8-18


Homeschooling Today