Monday, April 24, 2017

Teaching Children with Learning Differences to Read with Reading Horizons

The following is a product review by homeschooling mom and MommyMaestra reader, Mireya Marroquin Dunn.

As a follower and reader of the Mommymaestra's blog and Facebook page, I'm always so impressed at how much research and resources are shared to us readers. I'm always looking forward to seeing what is new. A while ago, there was a post on the reading program ”Hooked on Phonics." MommyMaestra recommended this program to teach young children how to read.  She partially attributed her children's reading success (they currently read way above their reading grade level) to the program. I also invested in buying a "Hooked on Phonics" kit back in 2003, when my oldest child was starting kindergarten. And it did work well for her. It is really a great program, but what happens when it doesn't work well for every child?

This is what happened with my second child. I was excited about using HOP with him before he started kindergarten, but it just didn't seem that the letters and sounds were sticking in his memory. He was attending a public school, and as time went on, I was naive and started to think that he would just learn it. Many of his teachers informed me that he had a learning delay and that he would catch up eventually. He continued to struggle even though he did have an Individual Education Plan (IEP), and despite the accommodations that were made even though we followed recommendations.

A Reading Program for Kids with Learning Differences

Then, in fourth grade, he was diagnosed with Dyslexia. He continued to make very little progress. I finally decided to pull him out of the public school system and homeschool myself, but still worried about how I was going to teach him how to read. I began to do a lot of research and found the blog of a woman who has eight children, seven of whom have learning differences. She recommended a reading program called Reading Horizons (an explicit, systematic, multi-sensory reading instruction made simple). Her older children learned to read using the online interactive software, called Reading Horizons Elevate.

The program begins with the basic 26 letters of the alphabet, then continues to focus on:
  • 42 sounds
  • 5 phonetic skills
  • 2 decoding skills
In addition, it teaches and reinforces with a variety of practice methods the most common words, sight words, & some grammar lessons. There are six chapters with 68 lessons in all. It comes with assessments after each chapter and three library assessments to measure reading levels.

It also teaches a unique marking system which explains when and why vowels are short and long. As you progress through the online system, you learn to break apart longer words into smaller pieces by making the appropriate markings. This is to understand the proper pronunciation in multisyllabic words. It also gives spelling tips.

The program reinforces the skills learned by decoding vocabulary words (over 1,000 words) after the lesson has been introduced. Each vocabulary word is presented with an auditory definition and context sentences. They also offer a library section with a wide variety of timed reading passages. This measures fluency. And comprehension questions follow each reading passage.

Progress Tracker

One of the great things about this program is that it keeps track of your child's reading progress. If your child doesn't master a particular skill, they have the opportunity to redo it before moving on to the next skill. Once my son began to use this reading program, I saw my son's confidence improving and he was not struggling so much with reading sentence by sentence. When my son began the program, he was reading about 5 years below his reading level. Within nine months, he completed the reading program. He was re-assessed and had made an amazing four-year reading improvement. This was so remarkable!

Here's an explanation of the Reading Horizons Elevate Methodology:

I believe so strongly in this reading program that I wanted to help other children who were struggling with reading. So I offered to tutor kids in my neighborhood at my next door neighbor's afterschool homework tutoring center. Since I began tutoring them back in September 2016, they have seen significant gains, too. A few of them even made honor roll this past third quarter grading period! The effects were double because by helping them improve their reading, their grades also improved in other subjects. You can check it out yourself and read what other parents/teachers/tutors are saying about Reading Horizons.

But Reading Horizons is NOT just catered for struggling readers; it is also used to teach children in kindergarten through 3rd grade how to read. This program is called Reading Horizons Discovery.  AND it is even available for English learners to learn the fundamentals of reading. It also has an extra feature with the option to have the lessons translated into several different languages in text instruction. You can also get a pronunciation tab added in order to practice pronouncing the English words with your headset/microphone.

Reading Horizon Program Options

The At-Home Reading Horizons programs (Discovery & Elevate) are offered with two options:
  • direct instructions (book materials with a teacher manual) 
  • or the online interactive software, which has the same material covered as in the text books.  
Read more information on the At-Home Reading Horizons version.

For the online interactive software, Reading Horizons offers a $10 (30-day trial) and if you like it and see progress, you can upgrade after your trial period for $189 for an entire year. This is valid for two students, but you can add three more additional students for $25 each. I honestly believe it's been the best investment I have made for my Dyslexic son. He can finally read!

A very happy & inspired mama,

Mireya Marroquin Dunn


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