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      July 16, 2020

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Hooked On Phonics vs K5 Learning

To help you find the Best Learn To Read Programs, provides you with an in-depth comparison of Hooked On Phonics and K5 Learning.

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Help Your Child Learn To Read With Hooked On Phonics Today! What is the best way for someone to learn to read? There are many approaches to developing literacy in young children, struggling older readers, and even adults. Some education experts advocate the study of phonics, or the sounds that combine to make words, while others push for "whole language" methods that emphasize meaning over sounds.

The most current studies show that the best way to help people learn to read is by mixing both strategies, teaching students how to decode the way words are formed and spoken while encouraging increased comprehension of what's being read.

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5 stars
Hooked On Phonics


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Digital Only - $6.99/month, $39.99/year, $49.99/lifetime

Complete (Digital + Print) - starting at $199.99 (free shipping) Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award Hooked on Phonics has been a household name for decades - "Hooked on Phonics worked for me!" as the ads used to say. There's a reason for that: since 1987, this Learn to Read system has helped more than five million children go from learning the alphabet to reading with confidence.

This program is designed with an 8-level structure for grades Pre-K through 2nd. Each individual grade is broken down into 2 levels, so that the initial lessons support the student at their current ability and then challenge them to progress towards the next stage of learning.

Hooked on Phonics can be used in two ways: print + digital or digital-only. If you really want pre-printed workbooks to use on-the-go or simply prefer having options that aren't screen-based, check out the options in the Complete Kit tab. These start at $199. On the other hand, you might just be looking for an online program to catch your child's interest; Hooked on Phonics gives you access to their Digital Only plan for $6.99/month, $39.99/year, or their most economical option, Lifetime access for $49.99. Anything your child does through the digital platform is completely synchronized, whether she uses the app on a tablet or phone or signs in on a computer.

Watch for a popup discount: when we visited the site recently, we got an offer for 25% off as a first-time buyer. We also spotted a discount of $75 off the Ultimate Bundle, right at the top of the main page.

You can try Hooked on Phonics digital lessons for free. Just go down to the bottom of the site where it says "Digital Edition: Try it FREE". Each lesson in the digital platform takes about 20 minutes from start to finish. These lessons come with catchy animated songs; as you can see in the free sample lesson, they teach how certain letters sound (i.e. phonics) like "a" and "t". Next, an activity lets children see how those letters sound together (-at) and with new letters that are also sounded out (sat, hat, cat, etc.). Each step builds on the one before and walks students through the next learning target. Hooked on Phonics uses the Learn-Practice-Read-Celebrate approach, making it simple and systematic to master unfamiliar letters, sounds, and words.

Hooked on Phonics has a stellar promise and satisfaction guarantee. They say that your student will improve in their reading ability by at least one grade level in 30 days. You have 30 days from the date of delivery to request a full refund, and you'll be responsible for covering the return shipping costs of any materials you received that weren't designated as free gifts.

Hooked on Phonics is the world's most popular Learn to Read program. It's up-to-date, comprehensive, affordably priced and guaranteed to work - or your money back. For all of these reasons, Hooked on Phonics continues to be our highest-ranked system for learning to read.

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2.5 stars
K5 Learning


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Monthly subscription - $14.95 for the 1st child, $9.95 for additional children

Annual subscription - $119 for the 1st child, $79 for additional children

Free 14-day trial

K5 Learning offers instruction in Reading, Spelling and Math for grade levels Kindergarten through 5th (hence the name "K5"). The program can also be used by advanced learners in preschool but isn't recommended for much younger children.

This program comes with a free 14-day trial, which includes a skills assessment that covers 5 key reading skills:

  • Phonemic Awareness
  • Phonics
  • Sight Words
  • Vocabulary
  • Comprehension

Your membership gets you access to all of K5's curriculum, including downloadable worksheets for further study. Membership options include monthly and yearly plans: $14.95/month or $119/year for one student, $9.95/month or $79/year for each additional child.

Reading comments from parents shed a lot of light on the user experience with K5 Learning. One mother gave examples of words that her second grader was asked to learn, which included "gun" and "wine", and the sentence "He kept a flask in the top drawer of his desk even though it violated company policy." Another parent pointed out that many aspects of the program are not frustrating - parents have to select lessons to assign each day unless they let K5 Learning do it automatically, and students can be frustrated to the point of tears when they accidentally select the wrong answer, because the system doesn't let them go back and change it to the answer they meant to enter.

It's worth noting that most of the reviews of K5 Learning are years old; in fact, at the the of our review, the copyright date at the bottom of the company's website was 5 years prior. That makes us wonder if the program is outdated, compared with other Learn to Read options currently on the market.

You also get a sense of the program's lack of polish when you play the New User Tour video. The voiceover is clearly computer-generated: not a great strategy when you're marketing a Learn to Read program, which should use natural speech for optimal learning. The K5 Intro video had a native speaker voiceover, fortunately.

On a positive note, the BBB gave the company a flawless "A+" rating, so their reputation is decent.

Overall, K5 Learning feels a little cheesy and less up-to-date than most of the Learn to Read programs we evaluated. We strongly recommend that you take advantage of their 14-day trial before choosing a paid membership plan, since there's no credit card information required to give the program a try.

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Continued from above

There are many online programs designed to teach these fundamental reading skills to learners of all ages. Of course, younger students have the most potential for rapid skill acquisition, because the human brain is amazingly flexible in the earlier years. Fortunately, hope is not lost for older students, who often have greater vocabulary and background knowledge compared with children and can use those language experiences to help them understand how the printed word works.

As you consider the various Learn to Read programs currently on the market, it's easy to get confused by all of the options. Here are several criteria to keep in mind as you choose the program that is right for your student:

  • Target Age. Is the program geared towards preschool, elementary, or middle school and beyond? You should select a program that isn't too advanced or "babyish", otherwise your learner won't feel engaged with the instruction.
  • Structure. How is the program formatted? Is it online and interactive, just on paper, or a mix of both? Do you have to progress through lessons in a certain amount of time, or can students go at their own pace?
  • Value. How much will it cost to access the Learn to Read program? What do you get for your investment, and is it a good value for your money?
  • Effectiveness / Reputation. What do other customers say about their experience using the program for learning to read? Does it work? Does the company have a good track record for customer service? has reviewed and ranked the best Learn to Read Programs available today. We hope this information will help your student get better at reading, in a way that is fun and effective, right away!

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