If you spend much time in the homeschool discussion groups on Facebook, you will see lots of people asking (and answering!) about reading instruction programs. When AW first started showing reading readiness AND a desire to learn to read, I read the recommendations. Here were the top three recommendations at that time:
How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
All About Reading
Logic of English
AW was only four, and I hadn't planned on starting formal reading instruction until she was 6 or 7. The last two are expensive and felt like a bigger commitment. Since she was so young, I decided to go with the cheap and "easy" route. The first, 100 Easy Lessons, is just a book. While I know other people have had success with this book, it bored both of us to tears. It felt really inauthentic and both of us dreaded the book. We took a break from learning to read. But she was still really interested. We played with the LeapFrog Letter Factory magnets, read lots of good books, and she even asked me to teach her to write letters to label things.
Finally, I saw a used copy of Logic of English Foundations A and B with all of the accompanying materials. I bit the bullet and purchased it. I have zero regrets. We started last July and have finished all of Foundation A and are well into Foundations B. AW is 5.5
Here's what I like:
I just feel like it's a really solid program that leaves no room for gaps. I've seen one or two complaints that it moves too slowly, but you could easily leave off activities that your kid didn't need for practice. I think it's highly adaptable and yet open and go at the same time.
One of the biggest questions I see:
"Should I buy all of the materials?"
At a minimum, you will need the teacher's manual and student workbook. For Foundations A, you need the book "Doodling Dragons." (It's the best alphabet book ever when it comes to actual phonetic examples). I'm very glad I have the phonogram game cards because we use them weekly. We don't use the phonogram tiles very much, so I could do without them. You could make the flash cards yourself, but the tactile handwriting cards are quite nice and it would be a LOT of work to make all the phonogram flash cards with all the information on them. The reference sheets have been really useful but not indispensable.
The other big question:
"Cursive or manuscript?"
I'm teaching manuscript because that's what I was able to purchase used. From a developmental standpoint, there are strong arguments for teaching cursive and it was my first choice. It helps with letter reversals and formation. And this curriculum does a solid job of teaching cursive writing and manuscript reading.
Yes, it's expensive. And I will have to buy new workbooks for each kids. But the rest is reusable. And it's very solid and fun. I feel like it's been worth every penny. I really can't recommend it enough!