Practical Homeschooling Magazine Review

  • January - February 2008 Issue

    ClickN READ Phonics - Spotlight Review*

    *This is a review of the ClickN READ curriculum used in Looney Tunes Phonics

    by Melissa L. Morgan

PUBLISHER: Mary Pride . Recognized for over 20 years as a foremost expert on homeschooling, Mary is the publisher of Practical Homeschooling and author of Mary Pride's Complete Guide to Getting Started in Homeschooling.

Grades K-3. Lifetime subscription, including unlimited home use: regular price, $99.95. Currently $59.85 (or 3 monthly payments of $19.95). Windows 98 or better or Mac OS 8.6 or better. Member area requires Flash Player version 7 or higher.

ClickN KIDS, Inc., CA 1-877-CLICK-ABC

Searching for an inexpensive, interactive, online phonics program? Explore the learning environments in ClickN READ Phonics. They cover alphabet, phonemic awareness, word decoding, and word recognition. Your teacher - an animated, lovable space dog - speaks clearly, patiently, and slowly.

Authored by Dr. J. Ron Nelson, ClickN READ Phonics is based on the recommendations from the National Reading Panel, a working group Congress created in 1997. (Their mandate: Find the most effective methods to teach children to read.) The NRP reported back in 2001. A somewhat controversial summary booklet of their findings heavily promotes systematic phonics instruction as the most "evidence-based" reading instruction method for achieving decoding skills, fluency, and comprehension.

You can use the website-based ClickN READ as a stand-alone phonics program. If your child needs extra practice, it would be equally useful for drilling and reinforcing phonics. The lesson length - about 20 to 30 minutes - seems appropriate for most youngsters, and you can lengthen or shorten it if you prefer. You can also use it as a fun, simple way to test your child's progress.

Tired of flash cards? With ClickN READ your child gets appealing cartoons teamed with strong auditory emphasis and hands-on activities. With this mix of learning styles, the program should help kids with or without learning differences. So it's not entirely a surprise that the website offers positive reviews from ESL students, children with autism and dyslexia, and those with cochlear implants, as well as other learning disabilities. On a personal level the hands-on typing activities really encouraged my youngest child (who has visual challenges) to spell

Although some kids can use this program independently, you will probably still want to be nearby, just as the National Reading Panel recommended. "Guided repeated oral reading" works a lot better than kids simply tackling the lessons on their own. Younger kids or kids with special needs may need a lot of help, or they may become quickly frustrated. After all, this isn't a video game, and it requires kids to use a keyboard, not just a mouse.

The program contains three years of instruction, although many students can probably move much faster. The beginning nine lessons are for children who do not know any letter sounds yet. If your child already knows the A, M, S, T, C, D, N, and O letter sounds (not just the letter shapes!), start at lesson 10. (Happily, with its "Settings" feature, the program allows you to select the starting number.)

My eight-year-old daughter, Susie, and I looked forward to lessons with ClickN READ. We used the program for several weeks. I also checked out the advanced lessons, although my child wasn't ready for them yet. Susie has visual challenges, but could do most of the activities independently. She did need a little help doing the sentence practice, as the words were too small for her to read.

Once your child is ready to start learning with ClickN READ, the program loads fast, and runs smoothly. Click on the "Run Lessons" button to begin your lessons. Each lesson begins in the Letter Sound Chamber, which introduces a new letter sound. (In all, ClickN READ teaches 61 letter sounds in its 100 lessons.) Your child practices the new sound, along with five other previously introduced letter sounds.

Next, your child is automatically taken to the Listening Cube. Using the letter sounds taught in the Letter Sound Chamber, your child will work at recognizing beginning, middle and ending letter sounds in words, as well as at "word blending". Word blending teaches your child to decode the individual letter sounds in a word and come up with the sound of the word.

In the Reading Room, your child learns to decode sentences and short stories. Beginning with lesson 3, your child will read a short sentence or story. Readings range from Lesson 3's " Cam sat at a mat" to this from Lesson 100:

"Jorge was going to go diving at the pool. He could feel the moist air when he walked into the pool area. The air was especially moist today. Jorge was going to dive for the first time today. His friend Rhonda pointed at the diving boards."

Although the emphasis remains on phonics, your child will also learn 74 commonly used words, referred to as "high frequency sight words". In addition, the program also covers suffixes, such as ful, less, ad ion, and our old friend, the "Silent E Rule".

The Speed Chamber helps your child increase his or her reading fluency. It provides a timed review of all letter sounds and words taught in the lessons. Your child must make as many correct responses as possible within a preset number of minutes. This can help your child painlessly increase reading speed.

ClickN READ Phonics does a great job of personalizing itself to your child. Every time you log in, the program picks up where your child left off. Whenever a child completes a lesson, he or she automatically advances to the next lesson number. However, lessons can be repeated as many times as desired, and the interactive teacher will be just as patient each time. To repeat or skip a lesson, simply click the arrow for "Next Lesson" and then click "Update".

Parents can also change the playback time for the letter sound and word review exercises in the Speed Chamber. If you set the time settings too slow, your child may become bored; too fast, and your child may become discouraged. Sitting with your child, or close by, will help you fine-tune the settings to your child's needs.

The program's recordkeeping functions are also excellent. ClickN READ Phonics records everything your child does during the time the program is used. You can access and print reports on both Individual Lesson and Cumulative Results Over Time, and the reports are stored as long as you wish.

Frugal homeschoolers will appreciate the generous subscription policy. According to the current subscription rules for homes, "When you and all of your children are completely done with the program you may transfer the subscription to anyone you wish to give it to. They can then use the program for as many years as they wish to use it. There is NO additional charge to transfer a subscription".

ClickN KIDS, the site owner, offers excellent support through telephone, email, or the comprehensive FAQ section at the website.

Given their no-questions-asked 60-day money-back satisfaction guarantee, you don't have anything to lose by checking out this squeaky clean, easy to use, inexpensive phonics training for families.

We've found that ClickN READ is an almost effortless way to build essential reading skills, more like play than work.

Just as with any phonics program, you will wish to supplement ClickN READ with real books of your child's own choice. Among other things, research has found that children read "print" books with 30 percent greater speed than the same material on computer screens. Moral: Dig out your library card! However, before you go out and spend a lot on packaged phonics curriculum, why not give this on a try?

©2008 Home-Life, Inc.

®ClickN KIDS, ClickN READ Phonics and ClickN SPELL
are registered trademarks of ClickN KIDS, Inc.
LOONEY TUNES™ and all related characters and elements
are trademarks of and ©Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (s21)

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