What will you learn of this review of the Children Learning Reading Program?
- INTRO: Why did I get interested in the program?
- WHAT: What is Children Learning Reading?
- HOW: How does Children Learning Reading work?
- MATERIALS: What materials do you get with the Program?
- PRICE: How much does Children Learning Reading cost?
- BUY: How to buy Children Learning Reading?
- APP: Is Children Learning Reading and app /computer based?
- CREATORS: Who is behind the Children Learning Reading Program?
- WHO: Who is this Program for?
- UNIQUE: What is so Unique about Children Learning Reading?
- Should you teach a small child to read?
- Pros / Cons
*Affiliate disclosure: This post may include affiliate links, meaning I can get a little commission if you buy from them at no additional cost to you.
Can Children Learning Reading help your child become a fluent reader following a 12 weeks program? Is it really possible to teach very small children to read?
And… Can struggling older readers really catch up with the Children Learning Reading program?
If you having been looking into the Children Learning Reading program, these would be the sort of questions that go through your mind.
I know, because I had the same one doubts!
Some of the promises, especially the ones about teaching toddlers to read, seemed too far of a stretch!
But I was really curious about it, especially after hearing the story of how the creator of this program was able to teach his 4 children to read using the strategies on the program before the age of 3.
I was also ready to really roll up my sleeves when it came to supporting my child!
In this review of the Children Learning Reading program, I will address all of the mentioned questions, and more.
You will get a very detailed explanation of what the Children Learning Reading program is and what you can expect.
After reading this review, I hope that you’ll be able to decide whether the Children Learning Reading program is the right choice for you or not.
I thought it could be helpful to share with you a bit of background around why I got interested in the Learning Reading Program in the first place.
But, if you are in a rush, you may prefer to go directly into the nitty gritty of the review…
Skip this section and go to What is the Children Learning Reading program section.
The main reason why I decided to look for alternative answers for reading instruction is because I was less than impressed by the standard methods for teaching our children to read at school.
Well, they are based on an over reliance on sight words, memory and guessing (the worst habit you can get your child into!), without proper explanations about how the decoding system works.
When it comes to phonics instruction, the explanations offered at school tend to mainly focus on the first letter sound in words!
I could witness in my own home how ineffective (and boring!) that way of teaching reading this is for a kid.
Was my kid supposed to learn the 30- 50K + words (average number of words in an adult’s vocabulary) this way? Really?? Apart from being an absolute torture for the child, is that even possible?
Well, I reached the conclusion it is not possible… Common sense seems to point in that direction too… And, do you know what?
Scientists in the visual memory area (not related to reading research, therefore unbiased) have indicated that we simply don’t have the cognitive capacity to remember 30 – 90,000 words for immediate retrieval.
So, my quest in search for a better solution started…
With so many different tools and programs for teaching children to read, how to know which ones are truly helpful and based on sound/effective principles?
But I was not amazed by them. Don’t take me wrong… They have their place. They are fun, full of songs and somehow helpful, but definitely not the answer that I was looking for…
By the way, and even though this may be beside the point, I wanted to share my impression about many online tools out there (especially very popular apps). It seems to me as if they are just made for fun, and for pure amusement. And not even backed up by sound scientific methodologies. Hey, I have nothing against children having fun while they learn. I actually think that is the best way to learn!
But they have to learn.
If you promise that your tool is going to teach children to read, and what you get is something that is “somehow helpful”, then I have problem
- My background is languages and communication. So, this is a terrain that I love and where I feel confident. I really wanted to understand and master the English decoding system myself, so I could be a better teacher to my daughter.
However, as you will find out on this review, I don’t think you need any specific background in order to use this program! Just, be motivated!
- Even though I have been living in English speaking countries for a long time (Gosh, almost 15 years now!), I am native Spanish speaker…Why do I even mention this last point? Why do I think it is relevant?
Because, in Spanish, we NEVER use sight words for teaching children to read, only phonics. As English, Spanish is an alphabet-based language, so we always use phonics principles. On the other hand, unlike English, Spanish does not have so many irregularities, and “weird” letter combinations, so we don’t really have to be so systematic and strategic in the approach we use in order for phonics instruction to work.
Anyway, after learning lots about the decoding system in English, I still think that phonics is the best method for learning to read English. When you have a strong decoding system based on good/ solid phonics principles, you are set up for reading success!
And, finally, the last caveat:
- My daughter was already 5 years old, so she already knew some literacy basics. This program covers these basics, as it is designed to teach children to read from scratch. And, even really small children!
The children learning reading program is a step-by-step program that helps parents to teach their children to read.
It is based on phonics principles, and one of its peculiarities is that it has been designed to teach even really small children to read. As long as your child is able to speak, this program claims that it will help you teach your child to read fluently.
It is based on the combination of phonemic awareness and synthetic phonics. A pretty unique approach that I haven’t seen in any other program.
BONUS: This program has allowed me to share with you a sample of their Phonemic Awareness/Phonics worksheets.
You can get them from here!
NOTE: If you decided to go for this program, bear in mind that these worksheets are offered as an additional one-off purchase. You can still do the program without them, but they are a nice complement to the rest of materials you may want to consider.
The program is designed in two stages, the foundational stage and the advanced stage.
Each stage comes with its own manual and lessons. These lessons are short and will take between 2 minutes to 15 minutes / day to complete.
If these sessions are too long for your kid (especially if you are using the program to teach a toddler to read), you can spread out shorter lessons throughout the day.
However, consistency is important.
The content of the program includes some tips on how to engage children on the learning experience. This is useful especially for those children that still have short attention spans (very young children).
Besides, I noticed that the program is strategically created so the initial lessons are short and easily digestible for really young learners.
The objective of Stage #1 is to get your child to develop the foundational skills of learning to read fluently.
After completing this initial stage (28 lessons in total), your child will know the letters and its sounds, and should be able to retrieve all of this information automatically.
This means he/she will be able to read simple words without effort, such us CVC words (this is words that follow the structure: consonant vowel consonant words – the most basic word structure in English) or even more complex words, such as CCVC (consonant, consonant, vowel, consonant).
As the program focuses on making all of this retrieval process automatic, by the end of stage 1 you will witness your child reading full sentences, simple stories and rhymes.
Once your child has mastered these foundational skills and is able to decode these “simpler” sentences / stories automatically, it is time to move on the Manual #2.
In the Stage #2, your child is introduced in a systematic way to more advanced and challenging concepts, such us letter combination sounds (for example, the letter combinations “CH”, “TH”, “SH”), the idea that we can represent the same sound in different ways (for instance, the /f/ sound can be represented with an “f”, like in fan, “ph”, like in photo, or “gh”, like in laugh), or even more complex things, like -R controlled words.
As I said, the beauty is that your child will build upon the knowledge s/he already has, as s/he is introduced to all of these more difficult concepts in a systematic, logic order.
This way the child doesn’t get overwhelmed with the amount of new information she/he receives at the same time.
The standard package includes:
- Manual #1: Foundational Stage.
- Manual #2: Advanced Phonics Stage
These manuals include all the information you need to understand what the program is all about and what you need to do with your child. At the end of the manuals, you will find the lessons for each day.
I must say that the manuals are pretty lengthy, especially the first one, as the author offers a superb explanation on the principles behind the program, the scientific evidence that supports this approach, why this system works, what exactly you need to do, etc.
Even though I found this information fascinating and really useful (and I would recommend that you eventually read the manuals fully), if you just want to get started right away, you don’t need to read the entire manual all in one go at the beginning.
There are just around 35 pages that you can’t skip before starting. On a video inside the membership area, the creator of the program walks you through the specific pages that you absolutely can’t skip before starting.
- Lesson Stories for Stage 1: These stories are appropriate for the level of phonics of your child at at this stage. Really important for consolidating what he/she has learned on each lesson without getting overwhelmed or confused.
- Lesson Stories for Stage 2: These stories are appropriate for the level of phonics your child is at. Again, these stories are key for consolidating what he/she has learned without getting overwhelmed or confused.
Letter sounds MP3 audios:
Don’t assume that you already know this!
This is like a crash course for adults! You need to be sure that you are teaching your child the right letter sounds!
It may seem too obvious, but it is crucial that you get this step right.
Believe it or not, even educators oftentimes teach letter sounds incorrectly, which leads to real problems when children attempt to sound out words themselves and blend sounds.
Nursery Rhymes are a fantastic way for encouraging phonemic awareness in your child. As the name indicates, they are all about rhymes and playing with the sounds, and children have a natural predisposition for them!
So, again, do not underestimate the power of these apparently “simple” old songs!
The Most Common Sight Words
This list has nothing to do with the typical list of high frequency words, Dolch words or Fry words that you are probably used to!
The definition this program has for sight words is totally different.
These sight words are “words presenting real irregularities/ exceptions to the norm, and therefore can’t be decoded phonetically”.
The idea behind the program is to keep sight words (as per the definition I have just shared) to a bare minimum. Memorizing words by sight should be the last resort.
You will be amazed that there are probably less words than you were expecting!
Lifetime program updates
The premium package includes all of the above, plus:
These are video recordings of the creator of the program applying this program to his child. Total video length: 2 hours and 24 minutes.
This series of videos documents a 12-week learning to read period the creator of the program went through with his second child, Ethan, who was a 2.5 year old toddler at the time!
You can see how to put things into practice in real life.
Besides, on the videos the creator discusses, shares and highlights critical key points you need to take into account.
It is a pity that these only came with the premium package, because, in my opinion, they are an essential part of it!
Have a look at what they look like in the image below!
I know, they look like a simple thing, but they are amazing, powerful tool. So, do not underestimate their power!
Print them out, have them handy, maybe carry them always in your pocket and get your child to practice with them every time you have an opportunity.
It may only take a couple of minutes, but when you get into this habit, these minutes do add up!
Stage 2 Rhymes
A book with colorful illustrations containing all the rhymes included in the stage 2 lessons.
The standard package costs $69 dollars, and the premium package costs $89 dollars.
Besides, the program also has a 2-weeks trial for $9.
ATTENTION PRICE UPDATE (January 2023): At this time, Children Learning Reading is offering a special discount. You can buy the program for only $39!
Hopefully, it will still be active when you read this!
With regards to this, I also wanted to share an important note from the official Children Learning Reading program: “Many resellers of the Children Learning Reading Program claim that they provide special discounts to buyers when buying from their links. Please note that the Children Learning Reading Program does not come with any special discount, other than the ones mentioned on the Children Learning Reading official website itself”
I hope you got the point clear : If the program offers discounts, they will be advertised on the official website itself. Do not trust anyone claiming to have special discounts or coupons only if you buy from them.
>> Find the link to the official Children Learning Reading website here.
As mentioned on the previous section, the only way to buy is through their official website here.
Once you buy, you get instant access to the program’s membership area.
On the membership area, you can view and download the materials included on the program.
Children Learning Reading is not an app or a computer-based program. As explained before, you have a membership area where you can access all of the materials.
But these materials are to be done offline, on short (approx. 5 minutes long) one-to-one lessons with your child.
This, in my opinion, is an advantage.
The creators of the program are Jim and Elena Yang. Jim is a veteran literacy teacher who, disappointed with the standard approach for reading instruction, developed his own program for teaching reading.
Then, they used it to teach their own children to read before turning 3 years old.
There are various clips of their young children reading. Probably you may have seen some of them.
They are pretty amazing!
This program designed for parents with young children between the ages of 2 to 6 years old. However, it can be used with older struggling readers too.
You may want to skip some of the initial lessons, as your child might already know some of the basics.
But the system can work for teaching anyone, of any age (even adults) to read. The principles are the same.
As you are moving along the program, maybe skipping some parts if you are using the program with an older child, test your child’s abilities and knowledge first!
As I mentioned before, it is based on a combination of Phonemic Awareness and Synthetic Phonics principles.
This is a pretty unique approach that I haven’t seen in any other program. And the good thing is that this unique approach is also very effective.
Confused by these terms? Ok, hold on!
In short, Phonemic Awareness is the ability to hear, identify and manipulate the individual sounds in words.
These individual sounds are called phonemes.
For instance, a child with phonemic awareness will know the word cat is formed by the individual sounds /k/ /a/ /t/.
He/she will also know that if you add the /s/ sound at the end of this word, you get the word cats. And if you replace one of its sounds, you get a new word.
For instance, if you swap the initial /k/ sound on the word cat, with the /b/ sound, you get the bat. Phonics is different from phonemic awareness.
If interested, for further information about phonemic awareness, you can check this post.
The program truly follows the motto “Learning to Hear is the First Step of Learning to Read”.
Why does the program put so much emphasis on Phonemic Awareness?
I believe it is because latest research is overwhelmingly showing that Phonemic Awareness is the #1 predictor for future reading success. A program that focuses so greatly on the development of phonemic awareness from an early age is quite exceptional.
So, the first step is learning to hear the sounds in words, before you even attempt to read. This step, while crucial, is usually overlooked.
It is hard at first, as the kids might only be able to hear the first sounds in words. But after some practice, they can become masters at it.
And it will really facilitate the path for learning to read and become a fluent reader!
Another pretty unique feature of the program is that that it doesn’t force your child to explicitly memorize any phonics rules!
I believe that this might be because the program was originally designed for small children.
The creators may have thought that it would be nearly impossible to get young kids to memorize phonics rules.
If that is the reason why they took that decision, I agree with them.
Phonics rules can be helpful, but you certainly need a certain degree of intellectual maturity in order to memorize them, and even understand them!
Besides, some popular phonics rules have been found to only work in as little as 40% of the cases… Which makes you wonder why should you even introduce them in the first place!?
So, I agree with the creators’ premise around phonics rules (and it is truly liberating not having to necessarily teach them!)…
- I feel she is mentally ready for understanding / memorizing the rule.
- The rule is truly helpful, and doesn’t break more times than it works.
- The child is mentally ready for it.
Why do I do that?
The main reason is that I find they can be helpful for spelling purposes.
By the way, if you go ahead and purchase the Children Learning Reading program, and you would like me to share with you some phonics rules that I have found helpful in addition to the program, you can contact me!
I am happy to share them with you!
Many parents (and even educators!) will give you a weird look if you tell them that you are trying to teach a very young child to read.
I am sure that you are skeptical too! In fact, I was super skeptical about this point!
But I can now see how the lessons and the program in general is structured to work with really young children
Having said that, I haven’t tried the program with a really young child myself. As explained before, I started using this program with my 5-year-old kid, so she was definitely not a toddler!
As the main problem you face with toddlers is their attention span, the program has been designed in small digestible lessons.
You also get advice throughout the book on how to work on the attention span of really small children.
And, as they say, “the proof is on the pudding”: On the video lessons you can be a witness of how the creator of Children Learning Reading actually applied the program to his 2.5 year-old son. Remember, though, that these video lessons are only included on the premium package.
As to why you should even try to teach your young child to read: Learning to read at a young age offers numerous advantages for the child.
Studies have consistently found that teaching a baby to read and helping children develop phonemic awareness well before entering school can significantly improve their development in reading and spelling. This gives them a true head-start at school.
Besides, studies have also found that learning to read at a young age literally “makes you smarter”. The simple fact of being introduced to early reading led to higher intelligence levels in identical twins. You can read more about this on this post.
Bear in mind one very important caveat here, though: You should only try to teach a child to read once he/she is able to speak more clearly, capable of expressing him/herself using simple sentences.
Typically, this happens around the 2.5 year – 3 year old mark. There is really no point in starting if the child isn’t at that point yet!
- Unique approach based on sound synthetic phonics principles and phonemic awareness
- Can be applied to children from a really early age
- Step-by-step lessons designed to be quick and effective.
- Introduces phonics in a systematic/logic way, that is strategically designed to build upon what your child has learned previously without overwhelming him/her.
- Stories appropriate for your child’s level of phonics and video lessons on how to apply the program included (note: only on premium package!)
- Affordable and good value for money. Especially in comparison with what you could end up paying in monthly subscription of apps, games.
- This program is intended to teach your child to read. That is the ultimate goal. This is very different to some tool or game around literacy, which is somehow helpful and educational, full stop.
- Comes with a 60-day money back guarantee.
- Very good reviews and happy customers.
- The program does not include activity worksheets.
Actually, it does, but it charges a premium (in the region of $40). They are not absolutely necessary for the program to work, but they are actually a good addition to have. Unfortunately, you’re going to have a you’re going to have pay an extra!
- This is not a writing program or spelling program. I don’t know why I expected that my child would also learn to write with this program… o
Obviously, your child will benefit from the knowledge on this program when it comes to writing, but it hasn’t been specifically created for learning how to write
In my opinion, this is a really good program and really worth considering.
If you are consistent (remember consistency is key to success!) you will teach your child to read. Besides, you will be implanting a very solid decoding system based on phonics and phonemic awareness on your kid.
These principles make up very strong foundations to build a solid “literacy house” in your child. Learning to read this way is a true gift.
For all of these reasons, I believe that program is worth the money and gets my recommendation.
If you are still unsure and would like to learn about other Learn to Read programs alternatives, check out our legendary post about the Best Learn to Read Phonics Programs! We go through (in detail) a selection of the top phonics programs out there in 2022!