I’ve never used a formal Phonics curriculum with any of my children and 7 of my 10 children read well or are well on their way.
I say that for only one reason: educating children doesn’t take much money or a teaching degree.
Basically the way I have taught all my children to read is to begin sounding out letters when they are around 5 or 6 years old, depending on their interest/frustration level. (Of course at this point, they’ve been read to since they were born.)
I do this with simple books and with a pencil and paper, pointing out or writing letters and helping them first identify the letter name and then learning the letter sound. (I don’t even teach my children the ABC song, although they end up learning it somehow.) I may only spend a few minutes a day at first on this exercise. Very laid back, no “you’ve got to learn to read now” approach.
After they learn basic letter sounds, I have two, old laminated letter blend charts that I teach, (tr, sp, fl, gr, cl, etc.) also in a laid-back fashion.
Today I found a super-easy and fun way to teach them.
Since we’re in wedding mode right now and the little girls are excited about being flower girls, it was perfect. I pointed out the first blend and asked, “Which two letters are getting married?” The child answered, “s and p.” (The younger ones are watching on with great suspicion too, and consequently, are learning their letter sounds by mere exposure.)
So with a silly voice and my two index fingers held at a distance, one finger said, “I’m s” and the other finger said, “I’m p and I’m going to marry you.” Then I made the “s” sound with one finger and the “p” sound with the other, and as they got closer, the sounds got closer, until the two fingers finally kissed and made the “sp” sound.
My reading child thought this was fabulous and wanted to do the rest herself, which she did, and it worked beautifully!
So go marry some letters and relax–they’ll learn to read!