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The Learning to Read Program

www.learningtoreadprogram.com

4846 Trevor Court
Marietta, GA 30068
770-594-1770

Bill Allen, author and creator of The Learning to Read Program, had challenges with reading himself. After many years of struggling, he figured out how to correct his problems, and from that experience, this program was developed. He began by tutoring hundreds of children with a different program that was not available to everyone. He wanted to create something that any family could use at home.

Three-dimensional learners form pictures in their minds when reading. The idea of this program is to associate a picture and a corresponding sentence for each of the most common sight words. It also practices the concept of viewing the word in the mind's eye and touching raised 3-D letters for each word to help the user really retain what is being taught. This program actually presents information to 3-D learners in the exact way they learn. This is not how reading is taught in the school system, which is why learning disabled students often fall behind and can't ever catch up. It's not because they can't learn. The information just isn't being presented to them the right way.

The program is quite simple to use once you read through all the background information, which is very educational if you don't understand how the mind of a dyslexic student works. There are 13 volumes in all. They cover beginning words and written characters, pronouns, possessives, action words, contractions, opposites, and many sight words. Each volume utilizes Bill's M.E.L.T. (Mind's Eye Learning Technique) method, which leads the child through a series of multisensory actions to help him accurately learn and remember the words. Each page contains one word with an audio recording that explains its definition, pronunciation, and spelling. There is also a pop-up picture with a sentence that uses that word and helps create a picture for the mind to see for future reading.

This program is geared toward 6-11 year olds; however, it could easily be used for older struggling students or even adults (if they don't mind the childish pictures). It is suggested that the program can be done in as little as three to six months or for the slower student no longer than a year. This of course would depend on the age of the student and the severity of his reading problems. The entire 13 volumes cost $449.95.

Here is a list of pros and cons I found while using the program:

Pros:

  • Pop-up pictures are very colorful and attractive to look at. I can definitely see a child enjoying them. Some even have pieces that move to help show the meaning of the word.
  • 3-D letters add a whole different dimension to learning for recognition, spelling, and visualization of the words.
  • Can be used as a supplement to any reading program.
  • Can be done in as little as 15-20 minutes a day.
  • Batteries were provided for each of the 13 books.
  • Covers tactile, visual, and auditory learning styles, so every child is sure to gain from it.
  • Creates a more fluent reader with improved reading comprehension.
  • Is enjoyable for the student to do.

Cons

  • Audio is a bit hard to understand at times and even has a little static. We found a couple of buttons that didn't work. This was easily resolved by my reading the information to my son. There was one word where the audio mixed the pronunciation and definition of two different words.
  • The 3-D letters are not attached very well in some books. Some letters fell off from simply being touched, and I had to glue them back on. This was frustrating because I lost my son's attention while I was trying to glue letters on to continue the lesson. Many struggling learners often have attention problems, and any time a lesson is not fully prepared, it can be a big distraction while they wait for you to get everything together. Also, one book had a page missing, and that threw us off for a minute.
  • These books are big, and when you have 13 of them, they take up a lot of space.
  • Even though the author wants this to be available to all families, the price still seems out of reach for a number of them, especially homeschoolers.

While there are several things that need to be tweaked on the construction of the books and audio recordings, I think the concept is great and have seen an improvement in my son's reading even though we're only halfway through the books. I asked him how he felt about it, and he agreed that he was reading better and not stopping as much when he came across difficult words. His comprehension has improved because he is able to focus more on the context of a sentence rather than the individual words themselves. Many programs for dyslexics strictly focus on phonics and not the sight words that trip up a struggling reader. Because this program's primary focus is those sight words, it's a unique approach. I will be completing the whole program with my son and saving it for future use with both my daughters when they are old enough.

Product review by Heidi Miller-Ford, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, November 2010






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