Saxon Publishers

Saxon has three options to teach phonics to young children and struggling/older students. I will detail the three separately since they are uniquely designed for different purposes.

1. Saxon Phonics and Spelling:

a. Complete phonics program graded for each grade kindergarten through third grade

b. Concepts are introduced incrementally

c. Easy to use lesson scripts

d. Has remediation strategies and activities emphasized throughout

e. Contains little readers that go with each lesson (no need to purchase separate readers); this would also save you from trying to figure out which reader out of your collection is appropriate for your child following each lesson

f. Includes a good blend of high frequency words and phonemic awareness

g. Good for spelling instruction too; strong foundation for spelling later too

h. Daily practice and review

i. Downfalls:

(1) Pricey for remediation—might be more “stuff” than a summer remediation really needs

(2) Contains handwriting practice within it, which many might consider a benefit, but my struggling readers were not ready to do a lot of writing too, so I would consider that a downside or just omit that portion

(3) Created for the classroom (like Saxon Math); thus, it has “more” than a tutor might need; contains some busy work because of this

(4) Looks overwhelming when you open the package AND you have to assemble all of those great little readers I just described above!

(5) Since it is a “graded” program, you will likely not get what you need in a remediation situation; you will either get all of the first grade skills (if you purchase grade one) or all of the second grade skills (if you purchase grade two), etc.

2. Phonics Intervention:

a. Created specifically for remediation, targeting fourth grade and up, though a second or third grader would also benefit from it

b. Clear, well-paced lessons at more of a tutorial speed than a regular classroom speed

c. No training needed; just open and begin

d. Skills are introduced and repeated as needed

e. Comes with colorful, controlled-vocabulary reading material, so you do not need to purchase readers

f. Not too childish for older students

g. Downfalls: I’ve never used or seen this program first hand, but I have heard a lot of good about it. The downside I would think could be that it is not a Christian publisher, so the readers will likely be secular. However, I think the benefits (tutoring approach, easy to use, reading material provided, intensive phonics, etc.) would outweigh that for a short tutoring situation

3. Bold Intervention:

a. Saxon says this program is THE program to put your older struggling students on the path to progress

b. Systematic, explicit phonics programs—a real plus for an older child’s remediation program as many times older children’s (and adults’) programs have a tendency to forget the phonics in favor of memorization techniques)

c. Definitely made for older kids—magazine style books, older topics in the reading materials, not childish looking, etc.

d. Claims to get results in just one semester—so seems very tutor-friendly, not focusing on superfluous skills but just getting down to the bare bones of making a reader our of a non reader

e. Easy to teach

f. “Readers” are magazine style with full color graphics and a variety of types of materials—if you have an older child who need phonics remediation, this would be a real plus because it would not have the student reading “Mat sat” at age eleven or twelve, which can be demoralizing

g. Downsides: Again, I have not seen this program, but it is rare to find a strong phonetically based program for older students—with high interest/low readability materials such as those contained within this. Again, the content is secular, and I imagine that all of the reading material would not be up to my liking, but the topics (extreme sports, wild animals, legends, etc.) are extremely interesting to older kids

In a nutshell, I wouldn’t hesitate to use one of the last two programs listed here for remediation (or the Saxon Phonics and Spelling for my first or second grader as a homeschooler). I would probably go with the Intervention for struggling second through fourth graders and Bold Intervention for fifth graders and up who are still word calling at a primary level.

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