The Spalding reading method

The Spalding Reading method was in the earlier days of the homeschooling movement a well-regarded research-based reading phonics program that was used by many homeschooling advocates and recommended for its sound approach. I bought The Writing Read to Reading (WRTR), text for The Spalding Method, and the phonogram cards materials but found the approach too difficult, pedagogic for home use and apparently, others found so too as a plethora of other more user-friendly products came out on the market, so the materials never became hugely popular. To be fair WRTR itself recommends that you study the WRR guide for 40 hours before teaching it. But which homeschooling mum has 40 hours to spare before commencing teaching?

The method, however, today deserves a new look and review because Spalding Education International (SEI) the non-profit organization that focuses on research and development of materials for the method has come up with updated and new materials that are user-friendly for home-educators as well as for school teachers.

1. “Spalding for Home Educators is new this year. It is offered in two parts. Part 1 (15 hours) focuses on basic skills needed for teaching kindergarten through grade 2. Part 2 (15 hours) expands instruction to grade 3 and above.” Details are online.

2. Readers: “In response to home educators’ requests for decodable books aligned to Spalding phonogram introduction, eight (8) Kindergarten decodable readers will be available for the 2008-09 school year. They are specifically written to provide phonogram practice. These handsomely illustrated readers, used with WRTR and the Guide, will be introduced at weekly intervals, beginning with week eight. They will incorporate the phonograms taught that week, along with those already taught. The complete set will include 8 narratives, 8 informatives and 4 informative-narratives. The books will also be sold individually. Providing nascent readers with books is important, and their excitement over being able to read a real book is wonderful to behold. … First grade decodables are in the planning stage. Mrs. Spalding believed that children have no need for special readers after first grade. After that grade, children can read the good literature recommended in WRTR. We provide a grade level reading list and leave it to the teacher or parent to select appropriate books.”

Other instructional materials:

3. A Parent Introduction to Spalding: “The 10-hour Parent Introduction is for parents of children in schools where Spalding is taught. It is less detailed since they are not the primary educators of their children. Principals and teachers love the interaction – that the course fosters – between home and school. Additionally, parents are delighted to know how to help their children at home.”

4. “The K-6 Teacher Guides are a response to requests, from both home educators and classroom teachers, for more direction. The Guides are designed to be used in conjunction with the 5th revised edition of WRTR. In addition to providing guidance for lesson planning, the guides elaborate on lesson delivery; assessment and evaluation; plus contain many tips for more effective teaching. Another reason for creating the Guides was to meet state and local textbook adoption committee expectations. Teacher Guides have become an industry standard and adoption committees have a hard time understanding a program that does not provide them.”

5. Word Analysis CD: “All words listed in sections A-Z of The Writing Road to Reading have been analyzed to expedite lesson planning. The CD can be used to sort words by rules, parts of speech, spelling lists, and syllable patterns, all categories needed for teaching the week’s spelling/vocabulary words.”

6. Revisions to WRTR: “The Writing Road to Reading is in its fifth revised edition, making it the longest continuously published textbook in the history of HarperCollins. Much has changed in education since Mrs. Spalding wrote her book, and not for the better. She did not go into great detail regarding teacher instructions because she assumed a background knowledge that, for the most part, is no longer taught to teachers or students. The 5th revised edition makes explicit the knowledge base, insights and classroom techniques that were inferred in earlier editions, making the Method easier to teach and to learn. The revisions made to Spalding teacher courses are designed to do the same thing.”

The excerpted bits were taken from The Spalding Reading Method: An Interview With Dr. Mary North by Linda Schrock Taylor …please read the whole interview at’s website. See also The Spalding Method Internet website.

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