Teaching Your Child To Read {Reading Horizons Review}

Tuesday, November 05, 2013 0 Comments A+ a-

Reading Horizons Discovery

I'm so excited to be in my second year of homeschooling Phoenix. Last year was very casual "preschool" with no laid plans. This year we're still keeping it casual, but I'm adding goals that align with those expected of kindergartners. Without a doubt, one of the goals I'm most excited about is to have Phoenix start reading.

He knows the alphabet. He knows phonics. But, there's a big jump from knowing phonics to actually reading. I've been hesitant to push him too hard since he's only 4. Up until now, our "reading" has consisted of me reading books to home, and pointing out familiar words to have him "read".

Award Winning Reading ProgramSo, I was excited to try out our first official reading curriculum, Reading Horizons: Discovery At Home.

How Does Reading Horizons: Discovery At Home Work?
Discovery is based on the research-based Orton-Gillingham approach, which provides explicit, systematic, and sequential literacy instruction through multisensory activities that reach every type of learner.

Discovery can be taught through the use of self-directed software, easy -to-use, instructor-guided materials or a combination of the two (self-directed software and instructor-guided materials).
In general, we try to limit Phoenix's screen time, so I found the instructor-guided materials to be most helpful for us. We were able to supplement what he was learning with the online software, which we used about once a week.

Discovery Instructor Materials

These materials provide parents with scripted and guided material to teach their struggling child (ages 4-9) the fundamental skills of reading.

  • Teacher’s Manual (6 volumes divided by chapter for grades k-3; 2 volumes for Kindergarten) – scripted material to help you teach your child through direct instruction
  • 132 Transfer Cards to help students practice and reinforce decoding skills
  • Six Wall Posters for student reference
  • Games Supplement includes high-engagement, differentiated activities for each lesson
  • Little Books (Five little books) help students transfer decoding skills to connected text
We've been working on this program for the past two months, about two days a week with my 4½-year-old son. During that time, we have covered:

Phonemic Awareness

  • Rhyming words
  • Syllable identification
  • Phenome isolation of initial, final, and medial sounds
  • Phenome blending and segmentation

Letter Group 1
  • Letter A
  • Letter B
  • BA Slide
  • Letter F
  • FA Slide
  • Letter D
  • DA Slide
  • Letter G
  • GA Slide
We still have a ways to go, but overall, I like how this program is working on so far. It covers each topic thoroughly. It has also been able to hold my son's interest, which can be difficult at times. 

So far, a typical lesson will consist of introducing the name and sound of a new letter via the 42 sounds chart. We'll go over the name & sound of the letter, I will show him how to write the letter, and then he will write the letter a few times on his own. Then, we will work on a "slide" with that letter, which is the sound two letters make together. 

Online Software

The online software is a yearly subscription that gives a child (ages 4-9) an online, self-directed solution to receiving the fundamental skills of reading (teaches the entire Discovery program through self-directed software).

  • Online access to the full version of Discovery Online software for one year
  • 63 interactive lessons teach students the 42 Sounds of the Alphabet, Five Phonetic Skills, and Two Decoding Skills.
  • 22 Most Common Words lessons give practice with high-frequency words that are included in 65 percent of our daily reading and writing (e.g., the, it, a, and).
  • 13 Reference Lessons aligned to requirements of the Common Core State Standards
  • Built-in assessments ensure proficiency after each lesson, chapter, and comprehension exercise.
  • The Vocabulary Word Wall allows students to practice decoding skills while building their vocabularies.
  • 64 colorful and age-appropriate stories help students transfer decoding skills to connected text.
  • Six fun and engaging games can be accessed with the coins students earn in the lessons, vocabulary section, and reading passages.
  • The Administration System allows parents to review assessment data, generate customizable reports, set student options, and receive notifications about student progress.
In essence, the software teaches everything the instructor manuals do... it's just online. Phoenix progressed through the lessons faster online than he did through my direct instruction. I also found it to be more "fun" for my son to do the online software. From teaching the letters, to saying the letter names and sounds out loud, it's all there.  The combination of lessons, games, and books work perfectly to teach a child to read in a fun way.

My favorite part about the Reading Horizons software is the administration portal. From there, you can modify grade, lesson passing percentages, game options, and so much more. Check out this screen shot below where you can see exactly where Phoenix is spending his time in the software. You can see he spends about half of his time in the "library" and "games" areas.

And, not only that, but it gives you a detailed breakdown of his scores. For example, a look into his library summary below shows that he got 3/3 questions right for one book, 2/3 for another book, and 1/3 for a third book. While the book he only got 1 question right may seem like he might have did bad... a look at the time spent on that book compared to the other books shows a different picture. He just breezed through that book as fast as he could, for whatever reason, and most likely just clicked on any answer.

I'm so excited to have our children learn to read through the Reading Horizons program. Yes... children. Ariana is already begging to use Reading Horizons too! And, reading Horizons makes that easy. After you buy the initial online software, you can renew for just $50 a year. And, not to mention, if you purchase the instructors materials, you have those to use with your other children too.

While I initially had more of an unschool-ish "they'll learn when they're ready" approach to reading, this program certainly changed my mind. Phoenix is thriving, and having a blast learning to read. And, once he's a reader, the possibilities are endless!

I highly recommend this program for any parent who wants to teach their child to read,

Instructors Materials - $299
Online Software - $199
Instructors Materials & Online Software Bundle - $439
Online Software Renewal - $50/year

Reading Horizons Donates To Help Struggling Readers 
Reading Horizons customers are some of the most caring and giving individuals alive. Mothers, fathers, grandparents, sons, and daughters often purchase the Reading Horizons At-Home program to help a loved one learn to read. Last month Reading Horizons decided to help their customers give even more when they made a purchase. For every full purchase of a Reading Horizons At-Home product, a donation of the At-Home Online Software is given to a charity foundation to help struggling adult readers.

Their October customers will be helping 74 adults. Those 74 will now have the opportunity to overcome their struggles with reading, benefit their families with their improved reading skills, and impact the lives of countless others through the knowledge and skills they’ve obtained.

Reading Horizons thanks you again for caring so deeply about education and helping to Share the Learning (STL) with others in need.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.
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