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Hooked on Phonics

This Hooked on Phonics review helps you consider whether to use this product in helping your children learn to read. Will Hooked on Phonics give your children an edge in reading? Is it worth the price? This review may help you decide.

There are a number of materials that parents can use, either with preschoolers or to support their school-age children, as they learn to read. The ones that are particularly phonics-focused range from free worksheets available at a number of Internet sites to commercial products such as Hooked on Phonics. Hooked on Phonics offers inexpensive workbooks for less that five dollars, and full systems for $199.95, so it’s an investment to give some consideration to. This article explores the Hooked on Phonics review, company, and products.

What Is Hooked on Phonics?

Hooked on Phonics is both a company and a product. The product originated with the efforts of a father to help his son with reading in 1987. In 1988, Gateway Education Products, Ltd. was founded to develop these aids into a commercial product, and the product debuted on the market.

In 1990, another product, Hooked on Math, was introduced. In the mid-nineties, along with a company change to Gateway Learning Corporation when it was acquired by another firm, a new version of the original product called Hooked on Phonics Learn to Read was introduced. In 1998, this new product won the National Parenting Center Seal of Approval, and 1999 saw a new version of Hooked on Math released.

In 2001, a more broadly aimed product called Hooked on School Success was premiered. It addresses not only reading skills but also study skills and aides for test-taking. That same year, the Hooked on Math program won the Teacher’s Choice Award from Learning Magazine, and several further awards were won in 2001•2003. At the same time, Hooked on Phonics entered into a partnership with KinderCare Learning Centers, which claims to be the nation’s largest private provider for day care and early education.

After more awards in the early 2000’s, Educate, Inc. acquired Hooked on Phonics in 2005, and jointly formed Smarterville Productions L.L.C., and Hooked on Phonics began to be sold through major retail outlets. Educate, Inc. also owns Sylvan Learning Centers and Catapult Learning.

New products were introduced in 2006 with a focus on the following new subject areas:

  • Handwriting
  • Spanish
  • French
  • Chinese
  • Spelling
  • Bible Stories

and also featuring grade-level-targeted products for pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, and first grade. The product line expansion continued in 2007 with Baby and Toddler editions of Discover Reading and a Pre-kindergarten edition of Learn to Read, and 2008 brought a Hooked on Baby product Learn to Sign in partnership with Signing Time!

What Are the Strengths and Weaknesses of Hooked on Phonics?

According to parents who have used Hooked on Phonics products with their children, the products have both strengths and weaknesses. Praise for the reading products include the following types of comments. Parents find that:

  • the products fit their children’s attention spans
  • their children may be eager to use the products
  • the progress charts are useful in charting learning for their child
  • having the product allowed parents to become engaged in the education process
  • they can be used with multiple children

Criticisms of the products indicate that:

  • even parents who had success with the product found the audio materials boring. Parents who did not have success, spoke of the dryness and the lack of opportunity for interaction, and praised less expensive alternatives
  • the video game is not well-designed and can be “beaten” by guessing and memorizing and does not necessarily result in increased reading skills
  • the system requires completion of one game to move on the next, and if the child is bored by a lower level game•which can happen because they’re very repetitious•the system doesn’t work well
  • it doesn’t hold the attention of a bright child
  • the method of beginning with the end of the word is inappropriate
  • it’s too repetitive
  • the Macintosh version runs in Classic mode, which is extremely outdated, and may fail on newer systems and customer service was not helpful


KinderCare -

Hooked on Phonics - product reviews -