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Sound Beginnings

by Julia Fogassy

Reviewed by Martha Robinson

Purchase details: Sound Beginnings by Julia Fogassy. Package includes spiral bound paperback teacher's manual, CD, loose leaf cards and worksheets, and The Early Readers Bible for $89. Available from Our Father's House. An audio tape version was reviewed.

Julia Fogassy, an experienced homeschooling mother of nine children, created Sound Beginnings as an integrated language arts program for young children. She put together this method based upon her many years of experience and her study of different ways to teach reading. Sound Beginnings offers instruction in reading, handwriting, spelling, phonics, and listening.

Sound Beginnings consists of a teacher's manual, an audio tape, phonogram cards, a pack of reproducible worksheets, a pad of specially-lined paper, and a composition notebook of the same paper. In the teacher's manual Mrs. Fogassy, giving credit to Romalda Spalding and Maria Montessori, discusses how she made the decision to use "intensive phonics" instruction to teach children to read and spell. She then lays out a step-by-step, scripted method for teaching a child during the first 118 days. She suggests how to teach phonics over the next several years and spelling through grade 12 using a list of more than 1,500 spelling words grouped by level. Dictation is an important part of her multi-sensory method. On the audio tape, Mrs. Fogassy offers encouragement and instruction and gives the pronunciation of all phonograms. The cards include a laminated "basic stroke" card to show the child how to make ball and stick manuscript figures based upon a clock face and a card for each phonogram with the hand-drawn figure on the front and the printed figure, sounds, and example words on the back. The worksheets, writing exercises to support the lesson, are illustrated with simple line drawings. The special paper has extra lines to help the child get the height of each letter just right.

The Early Readers Bible, included in the Sound Beginnings package, is particularly suggested for reading material because it teaches the crucial principles of the faith and has comprehension questions after each story. Mrs. Fogassy discusses her recommendation of the Protestant version of the Early Reader's Bible and points out areas of note for Catholic families. Primary Phonics Readers, available in many public libraries, are also offered as suitable early reading material. The author includes her home phone number and encourages parents to call her if urgent questions arise about the use of Sound Beginnings.

Recommendation: Sound Beginnings offers a classical approach to early language arts. The program is completely scripted so that parents who did not have formal phonics training or are weak in this area can easily teach their children. Some preparation is required prior to lessons, but it should not take more than 15 minutes. Sound Beginnings is suitable for both Catholic and Protestant families. Given the integrated nature of the program, the price for the package compares favorably to purchasing separate programs for each subject. Sound Beginnings gives us the opportunity to share Mrs. Fogassy's experience and knowledge and is a program well worth considering for your family.

Our experience: This program has worked very well for my late-blooming son. After trying numerous curricula without success, the modified Writing Road to Reading method used in Sound Beginnings did the trick. My son's handwriting is excellent; he remembers the phonograms; and while reading is still not easy for him, he is able to decode difficult words with only a little help identifying the individual phonograms. Sound Beginnings is easy to follow, though we have slowed the pace a bit to suit his needs. I offer a hearty recommendation for this program! resources related to this review:'s Language Arts Resources Section for tips on teaching reading and more!
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