The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading offers an inexpensive but thorough approach to teaching reading. The approach is "explicit phonics." It begins with identification of letters and sounds. Children would benefit from being able to recognize the letters in the alphabet and knowing their sequence before starting the lessons. It teaches blending beginning with vowel-consonant combinations such as "at, ad, an, am." Lessons continue to focus on common phonetic elements in words.
The authors recommend starting to teach reading to children younger than kindergarten if possible. If you do so, take as much time as you need to work through the lessons, probably moving at a slower pace than you would with an older child. This program should also work with older children who never learned phonics.
The only extras you need along with this book are flashcards and a magnetic board with alphabet letters or tiles. (The authors recommend having a second board for organizing letters not being used.) The flashcards can be purchased from the publisher or made yourself. An optional CD with pronunciations, The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Audio Companion to Lesson 1-26, might be helpful to some parents. The publisher sells a set with the book, CD, flashcards, and two magnetic boards with letter tiles.
The program is multisensory in that it has children hear, say, and see sounds and words. However, working with the magnetic tiles or other form of movable alphabet adds a tactile dimension to learning that is very helpful for young children.
I like the way the authors have arranged the book. You can read the one-page instructions and jump right into the lessons. But if you want a little more information, you can go to the back of the book and read through the "Information for the Ordinary Parent" sections. The first of these sections is a goldmine of practical suggestions for "Preparing a Young Child to be a Reader." "Managing the Reading Session" offers teaching tips. "Encouraging a Child to be a Reader" and "Remedial Reading with an Older Child" add more specific tips regarding those topics. "Questions and Answers for the Ordinary Parent" answer questions about the methodology such as why there aren't pictures in the book. (Picture associations often require an extra mental step, might be a distraction, and might encourage guessing).
Daily lesson plans are scripted with detailed instructions of what to say and do. This makes it very easy to for parents to teach, even if they don't know phonics themselves! Reading material is included within the book--child and parent work together from the same book. That feature makes this approach suitable only for one-on-one teaching. These attributes might be both positive and negative. The scripting provides security, but it also can be too predictable and boring. (You might preview the lesson, pick up the concepts, then teach in a more natural fashion.) Having teacher and student information printed on the same page might be visually overwhelming to some children. You might need to cover other parts of the page when asking a child to read. Or you might substitute other easy reading material written in separate books that might be more appealing and easier to handle visually.
The Ordinary Parent's Guide does not try to teach writing or spelling. The authors believe that instruction in these skill areas should be taught separately to avoid overwhelming the child.
The program really goes beyond other reading programs used with young children in the level of vocabulary. For example, in one of the last lessons, one sentence reads, "The water in the picturesque mountain lake appears opaque and turquoise." You might decide to save some of these later lessons for a time after your child has developed reading fluency at easier levels.
While some might find The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading too structured and bland, it is likely to be a close-to-perfect option for many parents.