For the beginner, one of the most intimidating aspects of homeschooling can be which materials to use. Buying textbooks, especially for multiple children, adds up fast. Making the wrong choices costs not only money, but valuable teaching time as well.
In the past few years of homeschooling, our family has had some hits and some misses when it comes to curriculum. One of the best programs we've stumbled across has been the Explode the Code series by Nancy Hall. It's put out by School Specialty Inc. Last school year we tried the Go for the Code preschool series for D-boy, and liked it so much that we purchased multiple books in the elementary series for both D-boy and M-girl this year.
One of the most crucial subjects to master in the elementary years is reading. To become a true learner, a child must get beyond that early reader stage, and begin to decipher bigger texts and more difficult words. Explode the Code assists the child in this process. It is a phonics based program, that gradually takes the learner from the simplest one syllable words to reading longer passages with multi-syllable words. The format is very child-friendly, with text accompanied by simple line drawings.
It is designed to be easy to do at the child's pace. The available teacher's manuals lay out easy lessons and review to do with the child at the beginning of each chapter. The optional flash cards are well worth the cost, as they are called for in most lessons. After the lesson comes multiple pages that review each specific concept. Each book also contains both a pre and a post test, helping both parent and child see how much progress has been made.
For M-girl, in second grade, I usually schedule her daily Explode the Code time right before we read aloud together. I've been amazed at how much her reading level has improved this year. She's become increasingly more fluent, and thanks to her phonics skills, is able to figure out many unfamiliar words on her own. She's developed greater confidence as a reader, and enjoys challenging herself. I've even noticed an improvement in her writing and spelling skills since we've been using this phonics series.
Our family will definitely be using Explode the Code for years to come.
Please note that this review is based on my own opinion and my family's experience. I have not been paid for this post.