Hands On Learners Need Fluff-Free Systematic Phonics.

Hands on learners generally fall into two categories. The first is mechanical thinkers. These intent little people understand their world by grasping it firmly and seeing how the pieces fit together.


The second are active kids who would rather hold a turtle than a pencil, (at least if it not raining really hard outside).

My sister once told me "Joshua looks like he would start school with a frog in his pocket." I laughed. We had dressed up for school pics just days earlier. My handsome little guy's accessories? A lizard for his khaki pocket. Perfect! We have active, hands on learners at our house.

OK, so you are a parent with one (or a bunch) of these wonderful kids at your house. How can they best learn to read? Of course, the first answer is with phonics. What types of phonics program will work best?

I have found that mechanical learners want this: a systematic description of how the letters they are looking at will tell them precisely the sounds you are trying to get them to say. Colors ect. make no difference.

Active kids want to learn at the speed of life. After all, there is rain to run in and more trees to climb. Make it short, make it to the point. One book, no moving parts is best. Oh, and can we make it so that we can use it outside? I call this fluff-free.

There are lots of phonics that may work for the hands on, active child. You may attract them with colored pencils. They may like to tell you all about the ideas that pop into their heads based on what they read. Just don't drown out the facts with unnecessary activities and work books.

Here is an important point: "hands on" can reflect a child's learning stlye or an active way of life. Both are important factors. They will move you in different directions.

If hands on is describing an active way of life, then learning styles are still wide open. There are many choices for reading instruction as long as they work fast. Your goal is to turn some of that zeal for life (that just traipsed through your back door : ) into an appetite for reading. Don't dull their senses.

If hands on describes how your child takes in the world around them then they are most likely mechanical. If so, most everything on the market will frustrate them. There is an exception: a very strong memory. A child with an excellent memory will learn with most any method. They will just humor you on the one you painstakingly choose. (Who cares, so long as they are learning!)

Outside of this scenario, here are some suggestions for your hands-on/ mechanical thinker:

  • You can start with decodable books. Read some more on how to use this idea without limiting vocabulary.
  • You can look more into English Decoder. This is the highly systematic phonics we wrote for our family.

Read More on Learning Styles

Go to English Decoder and the Mechanical Learner

Click for Phonics Results

Read About English Decoder Phonics Program

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