Top critical review
61 people found this helpful
on July 10, 2013
Perhaps Phonics Pathways is suitable for some learning environments and educators, but I personally do not care for this manual. Initially, I disliked it for the busy style of the text. The information is presented with all sorts of font variations, pictures, quotes, asides, and quips--most of which is presided over by Dewey the Bookworm. There is very little white space on any page. It is packed with images and text.
If that's what you like, then you'll probably very much enjoy the book. That's just not my personal aesthetic taste. All that hustle-and-bustle, to me, is distracting and, quite frankly, irritating.
Despite my initial displeasure with the style of the book, I proceeded to use it because it came so highly recommended and reviewed. As I used the book, I began to realize that a portion of the most useful information was buried in the jumble of the page--that is, the phonics rules are lost in the mess. There is no visually consistent presentation of the rules (e.g., all the rules in a text box in the upper right corner of the page). None of the rules are visually differentiated from the surrounding babble. One rule might come from Dewey the Bookworm, another rule from a cat, and yet another listed amongst a full page of text with absolutely no indication of any sort that what you're reading is a rule.
So what's the big deal about the rules? Rules are the point.
Rules are the point of teaching phonics. If I didn't care about the rules, I would just teach my children to sight read. I not only want them to read fluently, I want them to have a good handle on the basic rules of phonics so they can spell fluently and therefore write fluently.
Phonics Pathways does contain rules of phonics. But the presentation is so jumbled and fumbled that the rules are not easily accessible and, in my opinion, this creates an unfriendly experience for parents/teachers. It is frustrating and consumes unnecessary quantities of time to have to dig through the busyness of the text to find these most important rules.
By the way, there is an index to spelling rules in PP. It is on page 244 in my 10th edition. Unfortunately, it is jumbled just like the rest of the book. When you are in the middle of a lesson with your 5-yr-old and he asks a question about a previously learned rule--good luck finding it in a timely manner using the index.
As stated initially, perhaps PP is appropriate for certain learning environments and educators. Maybe the book makes a good tool for someone who's got a background and training in early childhood language development. But for the rest of us, I would not recommend it.