Review of Ultimate Phonics Reading Program from Spencer Learning

If there's one thing that homeschooling six kids has taught me, it's that everyone learns at their own pace -- especially when it comes to reading. We have had advanced readers, struggling readers, and on-pace readers in our home. I have never really worried, however, because there are some great resources out there to help parents and homeschoolers. Once such tool is the Ultimate Phonics Reading Program from Spencer Learning.

The program is downloadable and works on any computer we have in our house. It comes with an extended license to let everyone in the family use it. We used this particular program on a Windows PC desktop with Windows 10 installed, but you can use it with any supported Windows version.

We had our struggling and beginning reader try this out for a few weeks. I loved that it was a very streamlined program. It did not take up a lot of memory on our computer, was free of bloatware, and it took little resource to run well! When you have a computer that is shared by 8 people, this is a very important feature!

How does it work? It's quite smart, actually:

Each of the lessons are straight forward. Kids advance through each screen, reading what's on the page or selecting the audio icon to have thing read to them. Everything makes a lot of sense. Click on links to be taken to that page, or use the back button to go back to where you were. You can skip ahead to lessons or go back to previous lessons by using the drop down box. There is also a history button to show what you've learned.

The voice that this program uses is pretty flat, there isn't much for inflection. That means it works well with all accents. It's not a robot-generated voice like other programs, however, so it kept my kids better engaged. My son really liked that everything on the screen was clickable and could generate an audio. He struggles with only having to read some words, so we liked that he could choose to read things on his own first before clicking the audio button for help.

Kids are exposed to all aspects of phonics. They get definitions for concepts, such as the alphabet, vowels, consonants, and blends. They get regular word lists with a common theme to help them gain confidence in reading similar words. This program is very basic -- there's no overly flashy animation or gimmicks. It's a simply phonics program that is very effective because my kids aren't ever distracted when using it!

As kids work through the program, the lessons get more challenging. Single word tutorials turn into sentences, then into whole passages. Everything is done with traditional phonics standards in mind, which leads to confidence in everyday reading and a foundation for adding new vocabulary words every day!

This program was used a few days a week with our newest reader and our struggling reader, but they can be used for anyone hoping to become a better readers. Adults, ESL students, those with dyslexia will all benefit. While it is simple enough for a kid in preschool to use, there is nothing "childish" or cartoonish about it, so an adult could use this and not feel like it's demeaning in any way.

Learn more about the Ultimate Phonics Reading Program at the Spencer Learning website. There you will find a 10 minute reading test to see how the program can help you!

You can also find them on social media! Check out their Facebook and Twitter profiles for regular updates and tips.