The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews

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Saxon Phonics Review by Tina Rice

If you have spent time looking at curriculum catalogs or attending vendor workshops, you have probably seen dozens of phonics programs. Each claims to be the best, some claim to be affordable, and all want you to believe that they are easy to use. So, how do you choose? After dozens of recommendations, trial and error (a lot of error unfortunately), and reading reviews, I discovered Saxon Phonics. I was so excited to find a phonics program that works for different learning styles (visual, oral, and kinesthetic), does not break the bank, and is from a trusted producer of high quality material. Yes, Saxon is a bit expensive and it is time consuming, but the results are worth it. I can't recommend it highly enough. It is a multi-sensory approach to phonics, reading, and spelling. Saxon Phonics is available for kindergarten, first, and second grades. Saxon also produces Phonics Intervention, which is written for older, struggling students. Both programs prepare students to be successful readers and spellers. The first and second grade homeschool kits contain a teacher's manual, student workbook, rule books, kid cards, review decks, readers, an instructional video, and an audiotape (containing a spoken example of each sound). The teacher's manual contains a daily overview, scripted lessons, and an extensive reference section. Each lesson builds on previous lessons, there is constant review (which is neither boring or repetitive), and assessments are scheduled every five lessons. Concepts are taught incrementally so students experience success in every lesson. Assessments diagnose reading difficulties and provide remediation activities. There is very little classroom preparation required (no charts, pictures, or other things to hang on the wall). I found it helpful to put tabs in the teacher's manual to make finding reference sections easier. Saxon Phonics 1 takes about 35 minutes for the lesson and another 20 to 45 minutes for the workbook pages and readers. Handwriting practice is included in Saxon Phonics, but I believe that you need a separate program to effectively teach handwriting. Combine Saxon Phonics with a handwriting program (check out Handwriting Without Tears) and you'll have all your language arts for a day. For more information about Saxon Phonics, visit their web site at or e-mail them at

-- Product Review by: Tina Rice, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine