Three-year-old Talitha has been loving making her way through the Alphablocks Reading Programme we’ve been sent to review. She loves a magazine and practically begs to do workbooks so this is the perfect activity for her.
I haven’t pushed the reading thing with her. We plan to home educate her partly because we want her to progress at her own pace. She’s been so interested in learning to read, though (I hear “What’s this word, Mummy?” many, many times every day), that it would be strange not to help her explore this fascinating world of learning to read.
Complimented by clips from the CBeebies TV show, the Alphablocks Reading Programme takes a phonics approach to reading and is anchored in the Early Years curriculum. I was a bit unsure about phonics before Talitha started learning to read. I’d read alphabet books referring to letters by their names and following with their sounds.
She took the lead on that, however. She began referring to them by their sounds. So I went with it.
Now that she’s started blending sounds to make words as well as recognising some words by sight, I realise it’s not an “either/or” situation and that children so often get to where they want to go, on their own.
The programme is divided into three packs sent over ten months. In total, there are fifteen Alphablocks Reading Programme magazines, over 450 stickers, over 100 letter tiles, 50 flashcards, a “Word Magic” game, a pencil case and pencil, a word flip game, finger puppets, 450 gold stars (for sticking when you’ve finished a page) and a certificate.
Talitha was so excited when we opened the box and saw all these goodies inside. She’s asked to “do Alphablocks” every day. She loves writing the letters and using the blocks to copy words as well as practising the sounds. And, of course she loves watching the clips on the website.
The introduction to each magazine gives clips to look at before you begin. However, I don’t think this is necessary at all to get value from this programme.
There are lots of handy hints on each page for the adult helping their child to read. Every activity is very clearly explained and there is lots to look at as well as manipulate.
We’ve been taking a very relaxed approach to the programme. Some of it is a bit advanced for my three-year-old (it is aimed at children aged four to five) but she wants to have a go at it all.
She is clearly pleased with herself when she manages to sound a word out but if she’s finding it frustrating, I might give her a gentle encouragement or just let her colour the pictures or put the magazine away altogether.
I will say that there are a lot of “bits” so you may want to get an organisation system in place right away.
I’ve discovered this the hard way with a few cards and blocks getting munched by eight-month-old Ophelia. I’ve had to write the letters back on to a finger puppet or two (paper is acceptable as a food group, right?).
Speaking of the finger puppets, a couple of them came apart the first time we used them. I hot-glued them back together so it’s fine but it’s worth noting.
Also, the puzzles are really fiddly to do! Talitha is determined, so she manages in the end, but even I struggle a bit to put them together (but I’m usually doing it one-handed, to be fair).
The course covers all 26 letters, their sounds, blends and combinations as they are taught in school. The idea is to get parents confident with helping their child learn to read.
Personally I’m finding it useful and we’re both finding it a lot of fun. We’ve only received the first pack so far but I’ll be back to tell you about the other materials as we receive them.