When it comes to teaching young children how to read, there are a variety of programs and curricula available. One popular choice is the Hooked on Phonics curriculum.
In this review, we’ll take a closer look at the Hooked on Phonics curriculum, examining its structure, teaching approach, and overall effectiveness. We’ll also discuss some of the program’s pros and cons, and offer tips for parents who are considering using Hooked on Phonics to teach their child to read.
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What is Hooked on Phonics?
Hooked on Phonics is a learn-to-read curriculum that has been designed to provide a systematic, sequential approach to phonics instruction, with a focus on building phonemic awareness and letter recognition before moving on to more complex concepts.
The Hooked on Phonics curriculum is appropriate for children who thrive on having a clear routine and appreciate the use of audio-visuals, such as video lessons.
The program is divided into eight reading levels, and parents can complement their child’s reading instruction with the Hooked on Phonics app.
Structure of the Hooked on Phonics Curriculum
The Hooked on Phonics curriculum is structured around a simple, repetitive routine that is easy for parents and children to follow.
The program includes a DVD with video lessons to accompany the student workbook. Parents can register their Hooked on Phonics kit for online access to the video lessons if they don’t have a DVD player.
Each day, the child begins by watching the video lesson, which covers the “learn/practice” portion of the lesson.
After watching the video, the child works on the learn/practice pages in the workbook.
Once these pages are completed, it’s time for the child to read.
The lesson concludes with a sticker to reward the child for a job well done.
Some lessons also include games to make the program more engaging for children.
As the child progresses through the program, he or she will also receive readers that are appropriate for their reading level.
Teaching Approach of the Hooked on Phonics Curriculum
The Hooked on Phonics curriculum uses a sequential, systematic synthetic phonics approach to teach children how to read.
This means that the program starts by building phonemic awareness, which is the ability to hear and distinguish between the individual sounds in words.
Once the child has a strong foundation in phonemic awareness, the program moves on to letter recognition and introduces phonics concepts in a systematic, sequential way. Children learn to blend sounds together to form words and read sentences.
The Hooked on Phonics curriculum is aligned with the Common Core academic standards, which are a set of high-quality academic standards in mathematics and English language arts/literacy (ELA). These standards outline what a student should know and be able to do at the end of each grade level. This alignment can be particularly helpful for parents who are homeschooling their child and want to ensure that they are meeting academic standards.
Pros and Cons of the Hooked on Phonics Curriculum
As with any phonics curriculum, there are both pros and cons to using Hooked on Phonics. Let’s take a closer look at some of the program’s advantages and disadvantages.
Pros of Hooked on Phonics:
– Provides children with a strong foundation in letter recognition: This involves ensuring that children can identify both capital and lowercase letters independently and in any sequence.
– Systematic approach: The program introduces phonics concepts in a systematic, sequential way, which has been proven to be the most effective way for teaching phonics, and is key for children who need a clear structure to their learning.
– Simplicity: The Hooked on Phonics curriculum is easy to follow and doesn’t require a great deal of preparation or additional materials.
– Audio/visuals: The program is supported by video lessons and an app, which can make it more engaging for children.
– Stories and have decodable readers: Children first practice decoding individual words, but soon move on to implementing their knowledge reading stories and books that match their level of phonics, and specifically include the words and letter-patterns they have just learned. Stories are interesting and engaging and are beautifully illustrated.
– Strong focus on turning children into fluent readers by developing automaticity: By having repeated exposure to letter-sound combinations they have recently learned, children start to develop real fluency, being able to recognize words quickly because of their ability at decoding, instead of by relying on clues or context.
Cons of Hooked on Phonics:
–It can be costly, when you add up the price for different levels you need to buy to complete the program.
However, you can save up money in a couple on ways:
The first one is getting the bundle that includes not only unlimited access to their learn-to-read app, but also their curriculum materials sent home on a monthly basis.
You can get started for only $1 the first month, and after that it is 12.99/ month until you decide to cancel, and there are no lock-in contracts. This way you can also check whether this is the right option for you or not very affordably.
If you are in Canada, the first month is $8.99!
The other way is by getting a package with all the levels. At the time of writing this review, you can get the entire curriculum for $209 (you save $90).
Check final prices here:
–Some children may feel it moves too fast at times. These children might benefit from curriculums that provide more review and introduce concepts at a slower pace. Besides, there’s too much focus on word families at times, in my opinion. While I understand that some people really like this approach to teaching reading -as it encourages word pattern formation in the brain which can result in faster word recognition and fluency- I feel that if introduced too fast or not in the right way, they can also confuse some children.
– Not so multi-sensory. While there are some multisensory activities, it’s not as hands-on as other curriculums, for instance Orton-Guilligham curriculums.
Hooked on Phonics app
As mentioned before, Hooked on Phonics also has a literacy app. This is different from the video lessons that we talked about before!
This literacy app has been designed to teach literacy in a fun and engaging way. It uses play and music, but delivers educational lessons at the same time. The experience is interactive and immersive.
The activities on the app will be a perfect match to the materials your child is studying on the workbooks and other materials included in this curriculum.
The idea is that by using the app children will consolidate concepts further and that will make learning faster and easier, as the experience using the app is more interactive and immersive.
The Hooked on Phonics app also includes full access to the “Hooked on Spelling” app.
The app is only $1 on the first month (USA) or CA$8.99 (Canada users).
Besides, you can cancel anytime (no lock-in contracts).
Price and Guarantee
While we have already spoken about the price in different places throughout the article, I will quickly recap and summarize all the information for extra clarity.
- Buy levels individually: $79.99/each. Get here (US) / Get here (Canada)
- Complete Learn to Read Kit (all 8 levels): $209 (save $90). 30-day money back guarantee when you buy directly from their website. Get here (US)/ Get here (Canada)
- Bundle (full access to Hooked on Phonics and Hooked on Spelling app + curriculum materials sent home): $1 first month (US)/ $8.99 first month (Canada)
This program is great if you are after a very simple, but fun approach that uses audio-visuals elements (video lessons, app) .
It’s very good for busy parents, as the hard work is done for you!
The fact that is aligned with Common Core Standards may also give you peace of mind if you are homeschooling.
It uses explicit, synthetic phonics for teaching reading, which research has shown is the most effective method for teaching reading.
The materials (workbooks, readers, app) have been nicely designed and feel high-quality.
On the other hand, this curriculum can get expensive for some families (especially if you decide to buy each level individually), and, as with everything, it may suit all children. It all comes down your child’s learning style.