J-jo has suddenly shown a strong interest in his reading lessons. However, he gets easily frustrated and is afraid of failure. He doesn’t like it when it takes more than one try to sound out a word. It has been a frustrating road to get him to improve his own blending ability. (Bear also had a bit of hiccup with blending, but hers was sorted out fairly quickly.)
A few weeks ago, after I had been praying that God help me find a way to help J-jo through his blending difficulty, I received an email about a reading program I had never heard of: Children Learning Reading
; Jim’s email was certainly an answer to prayer.
From their website:
Our program teaches your child to read in a logical, bottom-up approach starting with letters and letter sounds. The alphabet letters and sounds are introduced to your child in a sensible, sequential and intuitive order. Exercises and practices are included right from the start that will help your child develop superb phonemic awareness skills – one of the prerequisites of becoming a fast and fluent reader. New words, sentences, and simple stories and rhymes are slowly introduced as your child begins to develop exceptional reading abilities
Here is why this program has been wonderful. I have many reading programs. I own a very popular one that doesn’t particularly work for my son because it has long fluency pages that overwhelm him. I am convinced that this program, Children Learning Reading
is the best one for YOUNG learners – those under five, or even more, those under three. Other programs expect the early reader to be able to get over the hump of blending quickly. They provide no provision for those children who get stuck blending. (By blending, I mean the ability to take the letter sounds and hear the word the individual sounds say. For example – pig . I am a new reader and I sound out the word – pppp iiii gggg. I know my sounds. I say them right, but I have no idea what word I just read. I have not been able to “hear” the word the three sounds make. Many kids do great at blending when they hear someone else segment the sounds, but fall apart when they try to do it on their own. This is what keeps happening to J-jo. At least, did. He just got over it after using this program for three days.) This program was developed by Jim and Elena, two parents who needed a simple, step-by-step approach to teach their 2 year old to read.
Since it was developed to teach very young children, the lessons are short. We started at the beginning of Stage1, even though J-jo knows his letter sounds well. We could do this without boring him because the lessons are short (3 minutes) and we could go quickly through the very beginning ones. Even though the letters get introduced only one per lesson, there are many blending exercises right from the start and these are what helped J-jo.
As soon as there are three letters, words start, but there are never that many at the beginning, the number of words is very gradually increased (we’ve gone up to Lesson 10), and as they do, the length of the lesson increases slightly (from 3 minutes initially to about 5 or 7). It is so developmentally appropriate for a three year old. I was very impressed. So was J-jo. His attention span never wavered the way it does in other reading lessons.
There is so much encouraging, helpful advice all the way through the program. It feels like someone is right there with you in step-by-step way, giving you tips to help your child become a fluent reader. This would have helped me tremendously teaching my first child to read. I am finding it helpful anyway, even though this is the second time around.
We do our reading lesson snuggled on the couch with my laptop on the coffee table so I can follow the lesson (which, in theory, if I read ahead of time, I could do them without the laptop since they aren’t scripted). The program recommends working on reading about 3 times, 5 minutes each time, but that doesn’t really mean doing a “formal” lesson each of those times. I might write a few words on a piece of paper at lunch for J-jo to read for example, or have him read some CVC words I know he can decode in a book I am reading aloud at bedtime. During the lessons, I use the sandpaper letters to introduce the letters and then write the words out on cards as we go.
My one complaint (and it is a just a minor thing for me) is that Stage 1 is all in upper case letters. In Stage 2 the words are in lowercase, so I can overlook the uppercase in Stage 1; I’ve been using all lowercase anyway with J-jo, so I can use our sandpaper letters. He does know all the uppercase letters as well, so for us, it hasn’t been a big issue.
You can watch some of the video
Jim and Elena have made, showing their children using the program.
Disclaimer: I received the program free in exchange for an honest review. I was under no obligation to give a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own. I love the program so much for a young child and am so happy that it helped J-jo that I have decided to become an affiliate; the links above are affiliate ones. I get a percentage of any sale at no cost to you. Thank you!