Last 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 disabilities like dyslexia. My then 13-year old daughter used the program on line from home over the course of several months and loved it. As many of you know, I have been homeschooling kids with dyslexia for many years now. After working with and getting to know the people at Reading Horizons last year, I knew not only that the company had a real desire to empower parents and teachers with the skills to teach all kids to read, but that they really know their stuff. The team over at Reading Horizons has been helping teachers in the public school system to successfully teach reading for over 30 years. When I was asked to review their latest product, Discovery at Home (which releases today) I eagerly agreed.
Reading Horizons Discovery at Home is an explicit, systematic, research-based phonics program for grades 1-3 based on the Reading Horizons method. What on earth does that mean? It means that this reading program uses methods, both multi-sensory and Orton-Gillingham-based, that have been proven effective in teaching any child, including those with struggles such as dyslexia, to read.
The Program: What You Get
The program consists of 6 Teachers Manuals with a total of 100 lessons.
- Daily review section that can be adapted to your child’s needs
- Teacher instruction with scripted, step-by-step procedures
- Guided practice and dictation to help students to practice the skills they are learning
- Reinforcement activities such as games, readers, practice pages, extended dictation practice and Reading Horizons Discovery software that correlates with each lesson
- Teacher notes that give support and teaching tips along the way
There are also teacher resources that go along with the program that are available online or on the Enrichment CD included with the program. The resources are amazing and include:
- How-To Videos: Parent/teacher training videos that help you with all of the methods implemented in the program.
- Dynamic Timeline: The Timeline provides a suggested sequence of lessons that can be customized to your needs.
- Downloads: All of the Enrichment CD resources including black-line masters for letter formation, games, activities and flashcards
The program also includes a set of readers, transfer cards, a pack of six posters and a game supplement. Each lesson is designed to take 20-30 minutes to teach with additional practice exercises and games as needed. Everything fits into a sturdy canvas tote.
A Note About Reading Horizons
One thing that I appreciate about Reading Horizons as a company is that they understand the needs of a child who learns differently. Approximately 20% of students will have major struggles learning to read. However, there are research-based methods of instruction that really work! Reading Horizons gets that. If you have a child who struggles learning to read, it is important that you learn more about the mechanics of a systematic approach to teaching reading and understand how these kids learn best. Reading Horizons makes that possible by providing and astounding level of quality resources to educate you, the teacher, as you educate your child. Some of these resources include:
The Reading Horizons web site offers a variety of very useful resources under the community tab of their home page. Resources include:
- Webinars providing cutting edge instruction on how to teach kids who struggle learning to read
- Exchange Forum for sharing your experience with any of the Reading Horizons programs, including an ask the experts section
- Reading Corner blog with weekly updates on a variety of topics of interest to parents and teachers of reading
- An excellent resource page for Learning Disability Information, including subjects like current research and homeschool helps
- Free reading Assessments for ages 4-9. There are four assessments: Recognition, Most Common Words, Phonemic Awareness and Segmentation. These four assessments will determine proficiency levels in different areas.
How Reading Horizons Discovery at Home Worked for Us
I used the Discovery Direct Instruction Materials (without the online software which looks great) with my 5-year old son. He is 7th in a long line of dyslexic learners and I have long seen the early warning signs of dyslexia in him.
Before beginning, I went online and watched a short getting started video that walks the teacher through how the program works.
Knowing that my son would need short, intense lessons so as not to discourage or bore him, we took the lessons at a slower pace. The teachers guides are well laid out with a wealth of information along with tips and helps along the way. For example, there were several great ideas on helping the student differentiate between lowercase b and d, a common struggle for my younger dyslexic kids.
One area that he struggled with was the daily handwriting practice. Again, we adapted his lessons so that he only did as much as he could handle without getting overly discouraged.
Knowing that successful readers have good phonemic awareness, I was happy to see the Phonemic Awareness exercises and games in the program. Every lesson ends with a choice of various reinforcement activities based on your childs’ level of mastery. I was able to use many of the games from the Game Supplement, an excellent resource, to work on this most valuable skill with my son.
The lessons are set up to include periodic Skill Checks to measure student progress. I found these somewhat unnecessary since I am not teaching an entire classroom. However, it was good to see in which areas my son was not quite getting it yet.
I printed up some alphabet flashcards from the Enrichment CD to add to our review time. I added a pair of upper and lower case cards to his stack as he learned them and reviewed them every day. Knowing that as a young dyslexic he would need lots of practice, we played some simple memory and matching games with his growing stack of cards.
My son was not yet able to read the readers that came with our kit, but my 3rd and 4th grade daughters read them avidly in one sitting because they were so engaging. Seriously, I have seen a lot of readers in my day and quite a few of them are just boring. Not these readers. We read about pirates, Egypt, the mythical god Thor, and Indians! Very engaging content with good-sized print and colorful pictures – everything a child’s reader should contain.
Because my son was a bit young for this program and he is likely dyslexic, we did not get very far in the program in the short time we had to assess it before review time. However, I have been using and assessing, albeit informally, reading curriculums for many years. I have seen what works and I have seen what does not. I am very impressed with the Reading Horizons Discovery at Home program. The systematic instruction, the plentiful teacher/parent resources and excellent customer support, make this a resource that you could use for your entire family over many years.
There are a variety of different purchasing options and prices for the Discovery Program.
Discovery Direct Instruction Materials (These are the materials that I reviewed) $ 299.00
Discovery Online Software (I have not reviewed this yet but it looks great!) $ 199.00
Discovery Software and Direct Instruction Materials Bundle $ 439.00
Discovery Little Books Grades 1-3 $ 159.00
The at-home online software runs $199.00 for two students and is $50 per year afterwards. There is an additional $25.00 fee for each additional student up to five students.
For parents concerned about the cost of Discovery, there is a payment plan available. Also, the materials are non-consumable so you are able to reuse the materials with multiple children.
Connect with Reading Horizons
Now for some fun! Reading Horizons is so excited about the new release of the Discovery at Home program that they are offering a giveaway of the program. Follow the directions on the Rafflecopter widget below to be entered to win one of ten 1-year subscriptions to the Discovery Online Software or the grand prize of the Discovery bundle which includes everything included with the Direct Instruction Program and a 1-year subscription for two to the Online Software. The drawing ends on February 25, 2013.
If you are looking for help for your older struggling reader, check out my review of the Reading Horizons Online Program. We have used this and loved it!