This unique reading programme has been developed after many years of working as an Occupational Therapist with children with Dyslexia, Attention Deficit (ADHD) and other reading and learning difficulties. It has been designed specifically for easy use by parents, grandparents and au-pairs, providing a progressive series of games which are fun to play and which take your child developmentally through the stages of learning to read. It can also be used by teachers and remedial teachers as a supplement to their usual lessons because it follows the correct developmental stages of reading.
A major difference between this programme and many other programmes for reading is the emphasis on movement, rhythm and rhyme. Parents are often surprised that I encourage movement when teaching reading foundations. They are also usually pleased that at last they can stop the fight of trying to keep their child sitting still and focussing quietly while trying to practise his reading. Movement is fundamental to this programme and rhythm and rhyme are intrinsically linked to movement. The section on vestibular processing explains why I have found this to be so necessary and yet overlooked when teaching reading.
In the introduction, I give the reader a brief overview of the underlying principles that have informed my approach. I also help the reader identify the developmental foundations that children need in order to begin to learn to read and understand how each developmental step prepares the way for the next. This is not an in-depth academic diatribe on neuro-development; it is an overview designed to inform and empower the reader to be able to get the best out of the programme. Indeed, I have found that when I empower parents this way, they usually go away to return with even better, more creative ideas and their children progress so much faster.
Reading does not begin with the recognition of written letters and how they combine to make words. Children need to learn to become aware of sounds within words and to be able to separate sounds from each other. They need to be able to play with sounds. They also need to recognise shapes of letters and remember the sounds they represent. There is such a lot of learning that needs to be achieved before we can really begin a formal reading lesson.
The games in this book start at the early developmental stage of learning to listen actively to the different constituent sounds in words and to play with the sounds of words. These early games can be played in the park or garden since no books are needed. Young children who are not yet ready to learn to recognise written words can play these games and develop a strong base on which to build writing and spelling. The games then continue to follow the development of the foundation skills needed for reading until the last section of games, where actual reading is introduced. When the children reach the section of reading text, it is presented in rhymes that they have already learnt. This not only builds their confidence but also helps them to read with natural flow and tone. The ability to recognise words in different fonts is also introduced at this stage.
Each game is presented in easy to follow steps, like following a recipe. The main aim of the game is briefly described, followed by any equipment you might need and where you should play the game. Equipment is kept minimal and simple and most games are designed to be played in and around the home or garden. This makes it easy for parents and children to decide at any time to play a game, without much planning ahead. An illustration for each game makes it easier to find when paging through quickly and stimulates your child’s imagination and interest.
At the end of the book a series of worksheets is presented. These are mostly lists of letters, phonic blends and words presented in large bold font and with some grading to develop your child’s ability to recognise letters and words in different fonts. The lists can be cut out of the book and cut into small cards for use in the higher level games. Colour is used in the worksheets to draw attention to similarities and differences in words and parts of words. The worksheets are also graded from extensive use of colour to black and white only. This allows your child to initially supplement his visual memory with colour and then gradually rely more directly on the letters only, with no supportive colour-coding.
By spending half an hour a day playing and having fun with your child, following this series of games, you will be able to strengthen your child’s foundation skills for reading. It is not essential to play every day. However, the more frequent your input, the better your child’s progress will be.