Curriculum

Succeeding at Reading

Because every effort to read — deserves to succeed!

Teaching a child to read can often become daunting for a homeschooling parent. The claims of “new” teaching styles and different styles for different children are becoming endless. Do you really need to sort through every bright idea that has come along regarding teaching reading? Do different children need different methods? Isn’t there simply a way to teach reading that works?
Yes, it is the time-tested method of learning phonetic languages like English. It is phonics-based reading. True phonics-based reading has gone out of style in this century because of the rise of “quick” or “easy” methods that now abound. Though most methods still claim to involve phonics, the “quick” and “easy” parts are really just memorization of the sounds of a limited number of “easy” whole words. This is a “quick” way to be able to “read” basic text made up of these words. This type of reading immediately forms the habit of memorizing words rather than learning to read words. It is considered quick and easy because the student quickly memorizes a number of words and seems to be reading. However, as greater numbers of more difficult words are encountered, progress often slows to a crawl, and for those who do not memorize well, it often stops. Difficult words are often never learned unless they are pronounced for the student by an instructor. Words are often introduced and semi-learned, but then forgotten as the student is continually confronted with more and larger words.
But true phonetic reading is different. The easy-to-remember phonetic concepts that make up our language are introduced, and then practiced until they become instinctive. The student can then read fluently and proficiently.

What about speed?
When this skill is fully honed, the reading student can construct and say a word from its phonetic parts faster than the student of another method can from memory.

What about new words? Do they need to be introduced?
Not at all! To a reader, a word is the sum of its phonetic parts. A reader reads words never seen before as quickly and fluently as any others. Nor does the meaning need to be known. The reader can read the word as it should sound correctly. Because of this, a reader will often pick up the meaning from the context or from hearing it used elsewhere.

What about long or difficult new words?
Again, to the reader, a word is just the sum of its parts, and once the recognition process is fluid, all words are read fluently.

How many words will the student learn to read?
A reader learns to read all the words in the language that correspond to English phonics, which are most of the 250,000 words in the language. If a student is trying to work from memory, the proposition becomes more difficult. The sheer number of words in common use becomes quickly daunting.

How long does it take?
Real reading is not the ever-expanding catalog of words that most students are faced with attempting to amass today. It consists of relatively few sounds that the reader can identify instantly, without even thinking about them. Therefore, whenever the student begins to read phonetically, the skill is akin to playing the piano or touch-typing. Once there is mastery of the keys, the skill simply improves on its own with use. In reading, the phonetic sounds are the keys.

Won’t more practice help with any reading program?
Yes, to an extent. With phonics-based reading the return on investment is much more linear, whereas with many other programs it tends to represent a scale of diminishing returns. Once a reader has developed phonetic instincts, as that reader encounters new words he is able to read them correctly. He does not need to learn and remember each one. Also, some may be words whose meanings he already knows because he has heard them used. With reading based on memory, the student does not automatially know how a new word sounds. Thus, he will often not read it correctly, and will often not recognize it when he reads it, even though he has heard it used and knows what it means.

Why do some reading programs seem to work fine for one child and not another?
We get calls about this often. A reading program seemed to work fine for an oldest child or the first two, but is not working for the next child. We always ask if the older children were better at memorization. The answer is always a resounding “yes.” The younger child is struggling—not because he cannot learn—but because he does not excel at memory work. A skill like reading is like riding a bicycle. It must be practiced until it can be done well. With a tool like Succeeding at Reading, which hones the skill methodically, usually both students will become better readers. By the way, the younger student is not inferior to the older. He may be significantly smarter even though he does not memorize well. It would be a shame for him to be penalized by a reading program based on memory work. Some gifted students never become good readers because of this. Sadly, they end up deprived of using those gifts in higher levels of learning at which they would easily otherwise excel.

What about comprehension?
For a reader, the process of reading words, orally or silently, has become as instinctive, again, as playing the piano. When no longer trying to remember the relation of the position of the keys, the player is free to concentrate on timing, tempo, volume, etc. No longer laboring to identify the words, the reader is free to concentrate on what the author is trying to convey. Another benefit of phonetic reading is that it often automatically increases comprehension. As the reader encounters a new word, he instantly recognizes the correct pronunciation without guessing, faltering or stumbling. As he continues to read the sentence fluently, being able to concentrate in the context in which the word is used, he can often infer reasonable approximation of its meaning.

Don’t all reading programs use phonics?
Nearly all claim to do so to some extent. However, most never teach the student to read phonetically. Here is a simple test that will often reveal non-phonetic reading right away. Have the student read something challenging orally. If he reads wrong (substitutes actual words that are incorrect), he is guessing because he is trying to pull whole words from memory rather than actually reading. If he stumbles continually at unfamiliar words rather than slowing slightly and pronouncing them correctly, he has learned to use non-phonetic methods to try to read. A phonetic reader is easily identified when he occasionally errs by correctly applying phonetic rules to the occasional odd word that does not obey them.

How do I know that my child is the type that can learn this way?
All children learn to truly read this way. Identifying words is really a substitute for reading. Succeeding at Reading employs the proven method that has been used to learn to read all phonetic languages. It was the method used to learn to read English in this country until the middle of the last century. The multitude of literary giants spawned by the last few centuries all learned to read phonetically by this time-tested method

My child has memorized the phonetic rules. Is that what you mean by phonetic reading?
It is good to know the phonetic rules, but phonetic reading is much more than that. In order to really read, the phonetic rules must be a working part of the student. If a person memorizes all the motions needed to ride a bicycle and maintain balance while doing so, can that person ride a bicycle? Those motions must become an automatic part of that person. They must be instantaneous, instinctive, and always correct, while the rider never takes thought for any of them. This cannot be achieved through memorization. Honing the skill of using what is known about riding is what is really required.

To what ages does this program apply?
Succeeding at Reading can help students of any age to learn to read or improve their reading skill. It can be used as early as kindergarten, and sometimes earlier. It can also be used by older students. We had a recent case of a seventeen-year-old remedial reader, who had been previously tutored unsuccessfully for reading, whose reading skill improved vastly over a very short period of time using Succeeding at Reading. Needless to say, his parents were greatly and pleasantly surprised.

My child is reading challenged. Can this help him?
Absolutely! Most remedial reading programs turn, as a last resort, again, to phonics. This is because it is known to be the least challenging, most effective, least stressful way to learn to read. Some children will learn faster than others, but all will learn to really read. That is why we call it Succeeding at Reading!

How much instructor time will it take?
The instructor will need to work with the average student about fifteen minutes each day until the student becomes phonetically grounded. The student can then continue to build skill and speed several times per week. The average child will be able to fluently read most types of content at an early grade level.

Is this something the child will like or dislike?
Children dislike busy work, but they love to learn. They love to see themselves succeeding. They love to be able to do the things that adults do. This program is about “succeeding at reading.” If the instructor’s attitude is geared toward and the student is paced in a manner that encourages success, the student will love it!

Will I be able to do this program with my children/students?
It is extremely easy to use. It also contains complete how-to instructions, a lesson-by-lesson Parent/Teacher Guide, and tips on how to make learning to read fun and exciting.

Are there other phonetic reading programs? What is special about this one?
Yes, there are others. They all teach the student to combine the different consonant/vowel sounds, digraphs, blends, etc. while reading them in words. And they all work. Succeeding at Reading applies the same principles. However, students, especially beginners, progress more quickly and with less struggle, if each concept is isolated and simplified in a manner that allows a certain level of mastery before being complicated by other concepts that must be learned. To do this, the order in which concepts are introduced becomes more important, even to the order of the words on a page. The outcome is that concepts are more focused, and transitions are more gradual. Thus, the student does not feel daunted by multiple challenges.

Why are some children good readers but cannot read aloud?
Well, phonetic readers recognize the pronounciation of each word instinctively. Their cognitive process is not really being forced to multitask in order to pronounce the words. The extra process of speaking simultaneously with the reading adds another burden when reading is not instinctive. Actually, speech imposes very little overhead, and should not cause a lack of speed or fluency. Other processes that might would be things like comprehension and reading ahead with one’s eyes in order to predetermine what voice inflections will be needed on which words in order to read the sentence with proper expression. Instinctive reading is needed to accomplish this.

How do I know if a reading program produces good readers?
The proof is in the pudding. Good readers can read well, and they can do so aloud. This is because, again, they recognize the pronunciation of the word instinctively. There is a quick test below that may help an instructor evaluate the results of a reading program. The following table contains a sample list of words from an exercise in Succeeding at Reading. A student is considered to have completed Succeeding at Reading when he or she can read pages like this at 100 words per minute aloud. Any good reader is able to read at this speed, and students often easily exceed this speed. A student at any level can begin Succeeding at Reading at that level and use it to attain that level of fluency.

crumb thymus words nurture pageant
option guide physics certify textual
front suits watch hindsight nettlesome
crypt Haitian cleanse walk photograph
wield worst pygmy glowworm knapsack
Joseph warren piece cruised squabble
warm touch culture disguise mechanic
swab knurl friction feints condemn
worse wonder knop lullaby armature
notion torture juices womb dynamite
future sluice sanction squall fearsome
loch deign govern pearly design
joyous sphinx potent suitors gyroscope
thieves guild earned essential technical
tissue binder qualify pleasant omniscient
pearl swath infusion typhoon amethyst
stall shove conceit eights autograph
fusion moisture orchid shield pleasure
lymph tycoon treasure toilsome rogue
learn gnome Murphy Warsaw company

How expensive is this program?
It is quite inexpensive, priced at just $5.95 for a single, effective, complete multi-grade tool for teaching any child to read.

Set the cornerstone for your child’s future! Most education is built upon reading. A child’s reading foundation cannot be too sound. Children want to read. Let’s help them succeed.

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