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Helpful Advice on Using this Website

The secret to reading is no secret. For most of us, it just takes common sense and a little work. However, if your child has difficulty with vision, hearing or speech, you need to address these physical problems first. Glasses may be needed to bring letters into focus or exercises required for tracking. Proper hearing is essential to understanding the link between letters and sounds. And difficulty with speech often translates into reading roadblocks. Talk to a professional if you are in doubt about vision, hearing or speech deficits. After all, you wouldn't ask someone to learn to swim with a broken arm. For more information on these and other disabilities, see our companion website on [Learning Disability]. This site provides a general overview of learning problems and discuss diet, food allergy, preservatives, vitamins, supplements, prescription drugs and classroom strategies.

Next, you need to cover the basics. You can do this by returning to the Home Page and clicking the Basics menu item. Reading is based on the gut knowledge words are built from sounds and that sounds may be represented by letters. Professionals give these concepts the fancy names Phonemic Awareness and Alphabetics. Reading progress is greatly accelerated when a child is comfortable with sounds and associates them with letters. Spend some time with the Basics. It will be time well spent. And don't forget the obvious, read to your child every day. Pick stories your child enjoys and point out words as you go along. The public library is a great resource and the library is free.  

After your student has mastered the basics, it's time to jump into phonics. Phonics is the set of skills that decode a group of letters into the sounds of a word. At Phonics for Free, we have organized phonics into simple skills, created tests to measure these skills and developed hundreds of lessons to teach phonics skills. This allows you to target those skills that are weak, maximizing your gain and minimizing your effort. You only study the lessons that are needed. Here are some steps to help begin your phonics program.

Step One:  Estimate reading grade level. For instance, if your child is nearing the end of second grade and the teacher reports the beginning of a reading problem, you might guess a reading level of early second grade. Use your best judgement or ask your teacher for an estimate.

Step Two:  From the Phonics pages, print tests for your estimated grade level. Take it easy and don't try to accomplish too much. A single test a night might be a good start. Grade the test using the answer sheet following the test, noting the incorrect answers. Each wrong answer indicates a skill that may need work. (Note that picture clues may be misunderstood by a child resulting in a wrong answer. In such cases, give your child the correct clue and repeat the question.)

Test question numbers correspond to matching lesson numbers. You can use the answer sheet to make notes and assign lessons. Each lesson consists of 3 pages, ABC. If you wish to assign all three pages for that lesson, circle the letters ABC. As the lesson pages are completed, "X" out the letters.

Step Three:  Print the lessons circled on your assignment sheet. Each lesson page is topped by a descriptive box with a worm icon labeled next. Click this worm to go to the next lesson in the series. When you wish to exit, click the worm icon labeled index. Study a few of the printed lessons each night. That's all there is to it.

To print tests and lessons from Phonics for Free, go to the Home Page and click on one of the Phonics grade levels. From the resulting phonics index, click a test letter or a lesson number to display a worksheet. If you like what you see, use your internet browser print function to print the worksheet. On some browsers, this is just a button at the top of the screen with a pricture of a printer. On others, you must click the file tab to pull down a menu which includes print. If your printer is capable, you may print in color by choosing print setup and enabling the color options. Setup also allows you to optimize your black and white output by enabling the grayscale options. In all cases, you need a graphics printer (like an ink jet or laser) to reproduce Reading Target pictures and boxes.

Phonics for Free is based on the Learning Skills Program which has been successfully used to teach reading to millions of students in every state of the union for the past 30 years. Phonics skills are correlated to standardized criterion reference testing to make the lessons adaptable to any mainstream reading program. Therefore, Phonics for Free is appropriate for both school and home use. For books and supplies that complement our program, click on Support Links on the Home Page menu or just click Next at the top of this page.

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