Help For The Older Struggling Reader

Homeschooling a house full of kids, most of whom have struggled to read or are still struggling to read, I was thrilled when I was given the opportunity to use the latest version of Reading Horizons at Home v5.  The idea of having a research-based form of reading instruction that schools and other institutions have been using for over thirty years was like a dream come true.  I asked my mildly dyslexic 13-year old daughter, Jessie, if she would like to use the program.  Although she is reading fairly fluently now, she was excited to use the program to improve her speed and efficiency in reading and spelling.

Reading Horizons

The Older Struggling Reader

If a child can not read efficiently, he or she will tend to avoid reading, resulting in much less exposure to vocabulary, sentence structure, and text organization than their peers who read well.  Reading materials at this age are increasing in complexity as well, which only adds to the deficit.  Older struggling readers have the same problems as younger readers and need to learn and master the same skills.  The good news is that all kids {and adults} can learn to read.  The key is to find a program that is not ‘babyish’ and that systematically teaches at an intense enough pace to keep progress steady thus motivating the student.  Reading Horizons is all of these things.

How the Reading Horizons at Home v5 Works

Log in and set your student up by choosing the level where they will start;  emerging, basic or excelerated.  The level determines how quickly your student will progress through the lessons.  The program can be finished in as little as 3 months to as much as a year.  We contacted the customer service at Reading Horizons to set Jessie up in the best way so we could maximize her time with the program.

Next Jessie got to working through the program.  There are 6 chapters consisting of:

Lessons:  The program consists of 68 lessons teaching the 42 sounds of the alphabet, 5 phonetic skills, and 2 decoding skills.  The beauty of the lessons feature of this program is that if your child believes that the lesson covers material they are already competant with, they can opt to take a skill check at the beginning of the lesson.  If they pass the skill check, they move on to the next lesson.  As the lessons progress, kids are systematically taught how to mark patterns in words that determine how they are read.  These markings reveal to the reader which phonetic principles to apply and thus which decoding skills are needed.  The lessons are straight-forward and contain a good amount of review.  Jessie tested out of quite a few lessons at the beginning to get to a place within the program that was teaching her what she still needed to master.

Phonetic Skills with Markings

Decoding Skills with Markings

Vocabulary:  After each lesson, the student can practice the decoding skills they are learning in each lesson and build fluency in the vocabulary section.  Each vocabulary section has the kids practicing both reading and learning the definitions of high frequency words, nonsense words and even ‘special purpose’ words that include terms used in school, business, medical, hospitality and travel environments.  Again, the program is challenging and highly engaging for the older reader.  Jessie was consistently intrigued by the lessons and vocabulary sections of Reading Horizons.

Reading Horizons Vocabulary

Library:  After taking a reading assessment to determine your child’s reading level, he or she can choose from a variety of reading materials to continue the application and practice of the decoding skills they are learning.  This was one of Jessie’s favorite sections of the program.  I liked that I didn’t have to worry that the reading level was too difficult or too easy.  Jessie liked that the materials were varied and that she could choose what she wanted to read from the variety of choices available.  After reading, the student is given a fluency score based on how fast they read and how well they understood the passage.  It was motivating for Jessie to improve her score with practice and subsequent readings.

Features and Benefits of Using Reading Horizons v5

  • Designed on the latest research – Reading Horizons v5 has recently been completely revamped to incorporate the latest research findings.
  • Developed for struggling readers at the secondary level to use independently.
  • Completely customizable.  Choose the entry level either emerging, basic or excelerated.  Students also have the opportunity to test out of a lesson if they already know the material for faster more need-based instruction.
  • Competancy-based.  The student does not move on until he or she has mastered the information.
  • Intelligent review.  After each chapter test, any concepts that were weak are automatically set to review.
  • Provides extra reading practice in a variety of real reading scenarios, like blogs, newspaper articles and menus.

Our Experience with Reading Horizons

Research has determined the best ways in which to teach the older struggling reader.  Reading Horizons pairs current research with modern technology to bring expert tutoring right to your home.  This is exciting!  We have been using Reading Horizons for about 6 weeks and Jessie has already seen many real, useful results such as improved speed in her reading and knowledge of spelling rules.  She has remarked on more than one occassion that as she was writing and came upon a word that she wasn’t sure how to spell, she remembered the rule that she learned from Reading Horizons and spelled the word.  This is  huge for a poor speller to be given the tools for improving spelling.

From the teacher (Mom):  

  • Program can be done at home – no traveling
  • Program can be done independantly – very little assistance needed from Mom
  • Cost is very affordable especially considering the cost of a private tutor
  • Time-efficient – child can work at his or her own pace and level
  • A complete course – phonics, vocabulary and fluency instruction
  • Although I had some trouble setting Jessie up online, the excellent customer service was able to walk me through everything I needed to know.
  • I ‘went’ to one of the many free webinars available on the Reading Horizons web site.  I learned skills for me, as teacher, to use as we homeschool.

Jessie’s (student) thoughts:

  • Can do it at home whenever I feel like it
  • I  can skip lessons that have info that I already know
  • Teaches rules in a way that are memorable
  • I liked the instant feedback during the lessons
  • Helped me with my reading speed and spelling

To sign up for their free webinars and workshops or if you have an older struggling reader and think that the Reading Horizons at Home program may be a good fit for them, I encourage you to check out their web site by clicking on the following link for more information.  


You can also connect through the Reading Horizon’s blog, on Facebook, Twitter, and here for a Free Trial of the program.

Reading Horizons has kindly offered one free 180-day subscription to the Reading Horizons at Home program to one of my readers.  This is an excellent opportunity for you to try out this amazing program in your own home.  See the Rafflecopter entry form below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Mark your calendars for August 30, 2012 at 9:00PM ET/ 6:00PM PT for a Twitter Party sponsored by Reading Horizons that will include another chance to win one of 3 subscriptions to the Reading Horizons program.  We will also be discussing ways to motivate reluctant readers, to boost reading comprehension, and to help struggling readers.  All moms are invited.  Click on the graphic below for more information.

Reading Horizons Twitter Party

To check out other reviews and tips from families who have used the Reading Horizons v5 online reading program {and for more chances to win a free subscription} visit these blogs by clicking on the following links.

Rebecca at Mom’s Mustard Seeds

Aadel at These Temporary Tents

Renee at FIMBY

Connie at Smockity Frocks

Kris at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Jamie at See Jamie Blog

Kela at Pursuing What is Excellent

Richele at Under the Golden Apple Tree

Jenn at Daze of Adventure

I was compensated for my time reviewing this product, writing this review , and hosting the giveaway.  All opinions here are honest and based on our experience with the product.  I was not required to write a positive review.

Marianne Sunderland

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  1. I would love to win this for my 10 year old son, thanks

  2. Our youngest, thirteen, has developmental delays. Sounds like this program would be a good fit for him – very interesting, thanks for sharing it! He loves doing programs on the computer, and the instant feedback would be important to him. Our goal is to make this school year a solid reading year for him.

    • Hi Maureen. Yes, the computer makes this so much better for our modern technology-minded kids. Don’t forget the Twitter party on the 30th for more chances to win!

  3. My son has a hard time sounding out the longer words and this would be a great tool. I am always looking at products but they are geared toward younger kids. Plus this is on the computer which is awesome! He loves the computer.

  4. Holly Maurer says:

    We have a ten year old who has already been held back because of his reading skills. He does not enjoy doing it because of the struggles he faces. I would love to see him be able to catch up.

  5. I would like to use this as a boost of confidence for my struggling reader. He’s getting better, but this might fill the gaps. Thanks.

  6. Sandra Easterling says:

    My 10 year old son dislikes reading because he struggles so much. i read to him every night and through school(we homeschool) but I can’t get him to read much on his own.

  7. Glenda Sullivan says:

    Would love to win this for my son! Thanks for the opportunity!

  8. My son would benefit from Reading Horizons.

  9. What a great looking program. My son is a struggling learner and I would love to win it for him.

  10. I would love to try this with my struggling reader. He needs to feel some success with reading.

  11. My nephew needs this, reading is not coming and he’s ready to fly, he just needs tools that will help him.

  12. What a great perspective even for the older read it seems to be a great program all around. Thanks for sharing the program from all angles.

  13. Dawn Kilgore says:

    My oldest girl who is 13 is a struggling reader who is dyslexic. This would be great for her.

  14. I would love to give this a shot for my younger two!

  15. My 9 year old daughter could greatly benefit from this program. I love all the features and that she could work on this independently.

  16. This would be a great tool for my daughter. I love that she could work independently. Thank you!

  17. Thanks for sharing. This program would be a great help to my son who struggles with reading and my daughter who needs help with vocabulary.

  18. My son is ten and dyslexic! It sounds like perfect timing for us to try this program! Thank you for the review!

  19. Trena Naccarato says:

    My oldest son would benefit from this tremendously. He struggles with fluency and stopping to pre-read what he about to read. It can be very frustrating to try to follow the story line while he’s reading. I have been thinking of ways that I could help him and I think this would do that and build his confidence about reading out loud.

  20. This program would be a true blessing for my son. I have looked at it for about a year now but it’s not in our price range.

  21. My sixth grade son needs more reading practice than I can provide. I’m primarily concerned with his comprehension skills, and I hope Reading Horizons could help. He would also benefit from the additional spelling practice.

  22. My almost 11 year old has dyslexia so this would be fabulous for him!

  23. Amy Oliver says:

    My son is a struggling reader- I would love to see if this helps him!

  24. I have a 9 year-old struggling reader whom I think might benefit from this.

  25. I just ordered this today for my two children who struggle with reading. We are so excited. I spent time reading and studying to see if this would be a great fit, and after my 14 year old daughter trying the free trial yesterday we decided that this would be a great fit. Thank you for your reviews, and for all the info you share on this blog. What a blessing you have been. :)

    • Thanks for letting me know Wendi. It is great to hear that people are getting information that they can use. My 14 year old daughter really learned a lot of useful things with Reading Horizons. Keep in touch and let me know how it’s going. :)

  26. Amanda B. says:

    It has been over 18 months since your review of the Reading Horizons program. Can you please tell me how things worked out for your daughter Jessie? Also, have you used it for any of your other children since? I would like to just use the online portion for my 16 year old who has moderate to slight severe dyslexia. He can read but not fluently and not with a lot of comprehension. Do you think it is possible for him to succeed with this program without me getting the instructor materials? He is very competent on the computer with other programs.

    • Marianne Sunderland says:

      Hi Amanda. I think he would do very well with just the online version. He should not need any other materials. If you come against any issues Reading Horizons customer service is excellent. You can call them and get any help you need. There is also a money back guarantee if it doesn’t work. I’d give it a try if I were you! :)


  1. [...] progress steady thus motivating the student.  Reading Horizons is all of these things.  Click here for more information, my review and purchase [...]

  2. [...] August I wrote a review of the Reading Horizons v5 Reading Software designed for at home reading instruction for people ages 10-adult with language based learning [...]

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