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Click N' Read Phonics Review by Dena Wood

ClickN' KIDS, Inc.
5737 Kanan Road Suite 107
Agoura Hills, CA 91301

Click N' Read Phonics is an interactive, online reading program that serves as a complete phonics curriculum for kindergarten through third grade. Because it is web-based, you can complete lessons anywhere you have Internet access. Simply access the Click N' Read website, log on to your account, and start your lessons. This makes it easy to complete lessons while traveling or switching between computers and does away with the need to insert and remove software disks.

The setup section of the program is easily understood. Simply enter your child's name and the lesson you'd like to start with. You can then adjust word duration, letter duration, and playback speeds to slow, medium, or fast to best suit your child's needs. I started my non-reader with lesson 1 and my second grader with lesson 50. If you click on "report" beside your child's name, you'll see a list of lessons and the letters and blends covered in each. This helps you to determine where to start each child.

There are two types of reports to help parents in tracking student progress. The cumulative report shows your student's percentage of correct first attempts and compares that with the percentage of correct first attempts by all users. This allows you to compare how your child is doing in comparison to a group average. The individual report gives specifics to help you determine which elements are causing your child difficulty. For instance, you will know which letters required more than one attempt and whether those attempts were screen selections or keyboard selections.

Click N' Read consists of 100 sequenced lessons focusing on phonemic awareness, alphabet recognition, decoding, and keyboard skills. The framework for the lessons is an outer space type environment, and Click N' Kid (who is actually a dog) facilitates the learning experience. The first part of the lesson takes place in the "Sound Chamber." Here students are match a letter sound with the letter on the screen and then match a letter sound with the letter on the keyboard. Next is the "Listening Cube," where students hear a letter or blend and match it to the appropriate letter or word. Next is the "Reading Room," where students work with such things as sight words, word families, word endings, the silent E rule, spelling silent E words, making sentences, sentence dictation, prefixes, suffixes, and story reading. (Only a few of these exercises are included in each lesson). The final segment takes place in the "Speed Chamber," where previous letters and words are reviewed. Each lesson is intended to last 30-40 minutes.

Though animated and located somewhere in outer space, the lessons are not gimmicky or gamelike. The instruction in Click N' Read is different from that in Reading Blaster or other "game" software programs. While Click N' Read is not particularly entertaining, my boys did prefer it over flashcards or workbooks.

Jumping in at the halfway point, my second grader did wonderfully in everything except the sections that required typing on the keyboard. I haven't worked on keyboarding with him at all, so he was completely unfamiliar with it. The very first lessons in Click N' Read incorporate use of the keyboard, so if your child has not had keyboard experience, he'll need to do a bit of catch-up. If that's the case, you'll find it helpful to slow down the response time in the setup.

Click N' Read teaches letter sounds and names, blending, and keyboarding all at once, and it moves at a fairly quick pace. For instance, lesson 1 introduces the short "a" and "m" sounds, lesson 2 introduces "s," lessons 3 and 4 introduce "t." In the first lesson the child is combining "a" and "m" to make the word "am," so your child is reading immediately. I like the fact that students are not required to learn all the sounds before making words.

Some of my children have done well at this pace. My second grader is able to work independently and does just fine. However, my beginning reader did find it a bit overwhelming. I found it best to do the lesson with him and offer occasional assistance or prompting. I also allowed him to repeat each lesson two or three times before moving on. I didn't concern myself with trying to keep up with the "all users" percentages. Click N' Read is adaptable to your child's specific needs. I see it as a valuable tool in teaching phonics, reading, and keyboarding and for offering additional practice to a new reader. However, I would not expect it to completely replace parental involvement. While some children may be able to learn to read simply from using the program, others will need additional assistance.

Product review by Dena Wood, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, December 2006