This thorough, intensive phonics program consists of a single manual (book) instructing the teacher how to present phonics, writing, and spelling in great detail as a unified, multisensory language arts program. If you use The Writing Road to Reading (WRR), it contains everything we need to teach those subjects through sixth grade level, covering all phonics and spelling rules. (You might use it only through about third grade level.) The heart of the program is the phonograms which children practice saying, reading, and writing in their notebooks.
The program uses its own system for marking the phonograms to identify sounds. This helps children with both reading and spelling. Words are categorized under rules far more than in most other programs. There are rules for small groups of words, words that would be taught as sight words in other programs.
Students create and add to notebooks everything they learn, so there is quite a bit more writing than in other programs. Spalding believed that the immediate incorporation of spelling and handwriting with phonics instruction reinforced all the skills.
To teach this program, you need The Writing Road to Reading book and phonogram cards (which can be purchased or made); the child needs pencil and paper (or notebook). To make it simpler for homeschooling parents, Spalding Education International sells a Home-educator’s Kit that includes the book plus a teacher’s guide (select a guide for one level of K through 6), a set of Phonogram Cards, Word Builder Cards, two Spelling/Vocabulary Notebooks, McCall-Harby and McCall-Crabbs Test Lessons in Reading Comprehension series, writing paper, Phonogram Sounds CD, A Spalding in Action DVD (select a DVD for one level of K through 6), Mental Action Cards, and Text Structure Cards.
Some parents feel overwhelmed by the amount of work required to both figure out and present WRR. Spalding Education International offers training workshops. However, these are not very practical for most parents. I generally suggest that homeschoolers use one of the programs that uses similar methodology but presents it in an easier-to-use fashion—programs such as Spell to Write and Read, All About Reading, or The Logic of English.
This program should appeal more to learners and teachers who like the detailed analysis of words, but it is less likely to work for Wiggly Willys and Sociable Sues who might be frustrated with the detail and notebook work. However, some learning disabled children who need much repetition and very complete, specific instruction benefit from this method. Much depends upon the parent/teacher’s ability to make the program enjoyable and adapt lessons to meet the needs of each child.
Even though it requires more work, the methodology provides students with a thorough knowledge of the rules for phonics and spelling.