To learn how to read is one of, if not the most important rite of passage in a child’s early education, and one that is far more complex and rigorous than seems at first glance.
When kids learn how to read, they must systematically learn and rigorously apply a complex set of literacy skills in order to ultimately achieve reading fluency. Many parents, for whom reading is second nature, may sometimes forget how complex the act of reading is for a young learner. While it is easy to assume that kids will just ‘pick up’ reading innately over time, research has found this is far from being the case. While some kids may have an easier time of reading than others, readers don’t simply passively ‘pick up’ reading, rather there is a complex set of skills that kids must acquire and actively use in order to become fluent readers.
Just what is involved for a child to learn how to read? Researchers and educators have analyzed countless reading programs and found that the most effective ones share five areas of emphasis:
In order to be effective, a reading program needs to offer instruction in all five of the aforementioned areas of literacy. In the order listed above, these skills build more or less sequentially, for example, a child must develop a sense of phonemic awareness, that is, the ability to hear, identify and manipulate the individual units of sound in spoken words, before they can develop an understanding of phonics, that is, how letters are linked to sounds.
Mastery of these two fundamental literacy skills is essential in order for a child to achieve reading fluency. Vocabulary development is both a necessary precursor and byproduct of fluent reading, with the more words committed to memory, the less time and mental effort a child spends decoding words when reading, allowing them to focus on the comprehension of the text.
Reading Eggs uses each of the five elements essential to a successful reading program in the structure of its lessons. Each Reading Eggs lesson is made up of a number of different activities that always includes four or five of the essential literacy areas. Lessons earlier in the program may focus more on phonemic awareness for a time in order for children to grow stronger in their knowledge of the letters of the alphabet and the sounds that individual letters and letter combinations make. As young readers work through the lessons, they progress through all five of the key literacy areas.
Students spend time on phonics and vocabulary, and even on skills that will help them read more fluently and understand text more fully. The lessons build upon one another and provide a bank of reading resources for young readers. The goal of every Reading Eggs lesson is teaching children to learn how to read, and to help them read and understand real books. No lesson is done in a vacuum: every lesson after Lesson 9 ends with an online book, the content of which dovetails perfectly with the content of each lesson.
My children love Reading Eggs. They enjoy learning to read and spell with the lessons. My son struggled with other phonics programs. But he loved Reading Eggs. Opening a new egg after each lesson kept him motivated to finish the program. My daughter loved the skill bank part of the program. She was glad Reading Eggs had a spelling section.
- L. Taylor
Reading Eggs is wonderful for early and beginning readers. It’s very easy to operate and the children get to be independent learners at an early stage. They love to share their progress as they sit side-by-side in the computer lab, proud of their individual achievements. I highly recommend it to all teachers in other schools.
- Jenny Dyer, Mount Pleasant Primary