Review by Mary Pride in the Dec/Jan issue of The Teaching Home
Reading Horizons is Mary Pride's Pick of the Crop
Reading Horizons wins the prize here. A completely non-consumable, reasonably priced, and absolutely clutter-free program. The only supplies you need are a black board or marker board and something to write on it with... The very best part is that most work is done standing up at the blackboard. Active kids love blackboard work—especially the kind of kids who fail with sit-down-and-pay-attention types of phonics programs.
Not to keep you in suspense any longer, this is the phonics program I like the most. Not just because Charlotte F. Lockhart ("Char-L, the Bi-Phonic Woman"), the program's author, sounds like such an interesting person. Not just because this program, which is completely non-consumable (you can use it again and again without buying anything new), is so reasonably priced. Not even just because this program has been tested and proven effective all over the country—as well it might, being written by a lady with years of experience as a teacher and principal.
So, why do I like this program? It has no clutter. No workbooks! No flash cards or ditto sheets! No pages to color! Best of all, no papers to correct! All you get is what you need—simple step-by-step phonics instruction.
You don't have to know a single thing about phonics to use Reading Horizons system; your child doesn't have to either. Some programs require that the child know the alphabet first. Not Reading Horizons! Children learn to write letters at the blackboard. Lesson one starts with consonant "B." Next comes "F," then "D," "G," and "A." Your children then learn the "slide," blending a consonant and vowel together. After that, they learn the rest of the letters... and then the real fun begins!
Reading Horzions has broken down the entire decoding process into 42 sounds. Your child will also learn spelling rules, contractions and stuff like suffixes and synonyms. The manual tells you what to do every step of the way. An enclosed cassette teaches you the sounds and explains the program.
Unique to this program are the Reverse Listening Cards: 152 cards printed on cheerful colored cardstock. You are supposed to laminate the cards or cover them with contact paper, then cut them out. Students write on the cards with erasable crayons or markers. You look the assigned card over and check to see whether you have taught the material well and whether your student has mastered it. "Nonsense words" are included to see if the student is really reading and understanding, or just memorizing word shapes.
Every component of this program looks really professional and sharp. Reading Horizons doesn't miss a trick. If you can't live without games and activities, this isn't the program for you. But, if you just want your children to read—and you want to enjoy teaching them—this is a great program.
BEST FEATURES: Step-by-step lessons start at the beginning and assume nothing. No clutter. Active learning at the blackboard. "Nonsense words" make sure your student really understands. The whole program is completely reusable.
WORST FEATURES: I haven't found any!