Blank's Phonics Plus Five
the only system that teaches your child
ALL SIX skills needed for reading success
about Phonics Plus Five
asked questions (general)
- Who is the program for?
- At what age can I start the program
with my child?
- Till what age can the system be used?
- How long does a session take each
- How many sessions should there be
in a week?
- Where does my child start in the
- How long does it take for my child
to complete the Phonics Plus Five system?
- What level of reading will my child
- Can the program be individualized
for my child?
- How do I know if my child is making
- How does Phonics Plus Five fit with
the program my child is using in school?
- I am worried about my child's progress
in learning to read, but my child's teacher tells
me not to be concerned. She says I have been told
that my child has a learning disability. Can he
or she use the program?
- It's wonderful that my child does
not have to memorize all those sounding out rules.
But without those rules, how is he or she
going to be able to figure out new words?
1. Who is
the program for?
Phonics Plus Five is aimed at children in the general
school population, or those who will be going to
the general school population. The program is designed
primarily for three groups:
- young children who are 4 years of age and up
whose parents want them to get into reading in
a smooth, problem-free way and have a leg up in
school. If your child has been attending preschool,
or kindergarten, then the program is likely to
suit him or her well.
- children in the early primary grades of school
whose parents want them to attain the highest possible
level of skill in reading, writing, and comprehension
so that they shine in all aspects of literacy.
- children in the primary grades who are, often
inexplicably, experiencing difficulty in learning
At what age can I start the program with my child?
Dr. Blank recommends starting the program when your
child is 4 to 5 years old. If you do, smooth patterns
of reading are established at the outset and school
performance is greatly improved. However, if your
child is already in the primary grades and is experiencing
difficulty in learning to read, you can begin using
this program at any time.
The basic requirement is that your child should,
without strain, be able to work on activities for
15 to 20 minutes at a time.
Till what age can the system be used?
Phonics Plus Five can be used with children of any
age who need the skills it provides. However, it
is best if the programs are used up through about
10 years of age.
How long does a session take each day?
Each day's session takes only fifteen to thirty minutes,
depending on which lesson you are doing and your
child's proficiency with that particular task.
How many sessions should there be in a week?
The more frequent the sessions, the faster the progress.
Children who are not yet in first grade should use
the program at least four times per week. Children
in first grade and up should use the program at least
five times per week, and, if possible, they should
use it every day.
. Where does my child start in the system?
Phonics Plus Five is designed to start a child off
at exactly the right level. You determine this by
carrying out a short skills check with your child.
As a rule, children who have no reading skills, or
very limited reading skills, start with the first
set of programs: the Get Set level which teaches
visual sequencing and handwriting skills. Following
this, there are five reading/writing programs: Boarding,
Runway, Liftoff, Airborne and Soaring. Depending
on their level of proficiency, children who already
have some reading ability start with one of these
How long does it take for my child to complete
the Phonics Plus Five system?
The length of time your child will need to complete
the Phonics Plus Five system varies depending on
your child's skills. To complete the entire set of
programs takes about fifteen months, assuming your
child starts at the first level and completes about
five sessions a week. Some children can take a little
longer (up to one and a half years). Many children,
who already have some reading skills, can often complete
the program in as little as three to six months.
level of reading will my child achieve?
With completion of the final program, your child
will be reading at about third grade level. More
importantly, he or she will have a broad set of skills
that will improve learning in all other areas. Among
these are the ability to read with total accuracy,
to attain fluent decoding, to develop accurate writing,
to use punctuation and to achieve full understanding.
These skills not only supply reading mastery, but
of equal importance, they supply the sense of confidence
that effective reading requires
the program be individualized for my child?
Absolutely. That is another great feature of Phonics
Plus Five. In the Get Set programs, which teach visual
sequencing and handwriting, you are provided with
clear criteria for determining when and how to move
on to the next level.
Once you start the reading/writing programs (the
Boarding, Runway, Liftoff, Airborne, and Soaring
programs), there are a number of features that allow
you to individualize the programs. For example, before
any word is taught, you carry out a mini-skills check
that tells you if your child already knows the word.
If he or she does know it, you bypass it and move
on to the next word. So all your child's time is
focused on learning material not known, and not on
what has already been learned.
In addition, at the end of each of the Boarding,
Runway, Liftoff, Airborne, and Soaring programs,
there are Progress Checks that tell you if your child
needs any review. The program guide then tells you
exactly how to carry out any review activities.
How do I know if my child is making progress?
You will notice obvious progress almost immediately.
You will see your child easily completing and remembering
many reading and writing tasks. As confidence grows,
he or she will also begin to read signs and other
new material. Further, the Progress Checks at the
end of each reading/writing program provide you with
a clear measure of your child?s increasing mastery.
. How does Phonics Plus Five fit with the program
my child is using in school?
Phonics Plus Five works extremely well with any other
program your child may be using. As your child masters
the system underlying effective reading and writing,
all their learning skills improve, and so classroom
performance and grades are naturally improved as
I am worried about my child's progress in learning
to read, but my child's teacher tells me not to
Should you be patient while your child has difficulty
with the single most important skill he or she needs
for learning in life? No, absolutely not! While the
common, well-intended advice is to be patient, it
is not wise to follow it. Even if your child's skills
were to even out in a couple of years, during that
lag, your child is steadily comparing himself or
herself to peers and is coming up short. The damage
to morale and self-esteem cannot be overestimated.
Why not offer your child every opportunity for success?
There is no advantage in waiting for things to clear
up and every advantage in helping your child succeed
wonderful that my child does not have to memorize
all those sounding out rules. But without those rules,
how is he or she going to be able to figure out
In English words, letters take on very different
sounds depending on the letters that surround them.
Consider the “s,”sound,
for example, in sun and sand versus sure and sugar.
If you want to “explain”these differences,
you have to offer a child almost 600 rules just
to get to third grade reading. And still, the rules
are filled with exceptions. Even the “at”combination--a
bedrock in early reading instruction—changes
its sound in the majority of words in which it appears –as
you can see in words such as watch, great, attack, bath, what.
The variations in sounds do not trouble good readers
because, from early on, their focus is not on individual
letters, but rather on the patterns formed by letter
combinations. That is why, even though they may have
been taught that “ph”sounds
like “f”they do not
for a moment think that a word like “uphill”should
be pronounced “ufill.”All the
activities in Phonics Plus Five have been designed
to lead a child to see key letter patterns. With
that skill fostered in each session, figuring
out new words becomes easy and appealing.
about early readers
- Is Phonics Plus Five good for children
who are in preschool or kindergarten?
- My four year old is starting to
recognize words. Is that a sign that this might
be a good time to start teaching reading?
Is Phonics Plus Five good for children who are
in preschool or kindergarten?
Phonics Plus Five is ideal for young children. You
will not find anyone who is more eager to read than
children in this age group. But most reading programs
are not suitable because they call for skills that
the children do not have. For example, memorizing
lots of complex rules. Phonics Plus 5, on the other
hand, has been specifically constructed to avoid
having to learn any rules. The lessons are also designed
to be short, generally requiring only about 15- 20
minutes. So a teaching session never drains their
effort or attention. And they love the books which
they are able to start reading after learning only
8 words. By starting the system before first
grade, the children become stars in their class.
The end result is a level of confidence that sets
them on the path to steady success.
My four year old is starting to recognize words.
Is that a sign that this might be a good time to
start teaching reading?
For many young children, reading is a magical
world they would love to enter. The drive to figure
out words on their own is one sign of this interest
and it is great to do everything possible to foster
it. So it's fine to teach your young child
to read as long as he or she meets a few basic criteria.
These are the ability: to sit and do school like
activities for 15 minutes at a time: to express ideas
in complete sentences, to match shapes, and to hold
a marker or pencil for writing or drawing. If your
child has these abilities, he or she is a good candidate
to become an early successful reader.
about learning disabilities
- I have been told that my child has
a learning disability. Can he or she use the program?
- Can Phonics Plus Five work with
children diagnosed with dyslexia?
- Can Phonics Plus Five work for children
with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
I have been told that my child has a learning disability.
Can he or she use the program?
While Phonics Plus Five has been designed for children
with typical abilities, children with learning disabilities
can definitely benefit from it. As a prestigious
government report acknowledges, 80 percent of children
with learning disabilities are in special education "simply
because they haven't learned to read." They
are "instructional casualties and not students
with disabilities." [A New Era: Revitalizing
Special Education.(2002, p.25). President"s
Commission on Excellence in Special Education, Washington,
Can Phonics Plus Five work with children diagnosed
Phonics Plus Five is definitely useful for children
diagnosed with dyslexia. The system has been
designed to teach a range of skills vital to reading
but omitted from other programs. Many of these skills
are precisely the ones that children with dyslexia
need to develop. For example, the children often
have problems with visual memory so that even when
they have seen a word many times, they do not recognize
it. From the start and in every lesson thereafter,
visual memory is a key skill in the Phonics Plus
Five system. Other features of the system address
the specific language deficits associated with dyslexia,
such as the notable difficulties they have with the "little" words
that permeate each page such as "there, who,
of") In combination, they work to steadily build
the fund of skills the children need to become fluent
readers and writers.
Can Phonics Plus Five work for children with Attention
Deficit Disorder (ADD)?
Children with ADD typically blossom with use of Phonics
Plus Five. Central to the children's problems
are difficulties in being diligent with “boring”activities.
That's why their spelling is often so weak
--and inconsistent. In a single paragraph, a child
may write a word like night in several different
ways (nite, knight, niet).
As the name of the syndrome tells us, the kind of
attention to detail that spelling requires is a Herculean
task for them. But if the children are to progress,
it is vital that they develop a reasonable level
of diligence. This can be done -- but it must
be achieved through small, clear, manageable activities
that never leave the children feeling overwhelmed.
That is precisely how the Phonics Plus Five sessions
are constructed. They are also designed to minimize
error so that the children consistently feel the
success that keeps them willing to learn.