Why Magic Penny Reading works:
The English language uses an alphabetic writing system based on the phoneme.
- This alphabetic writing system is a human invention that must be carefully taught beginning with the phonemes that are the basis for the system.
- All other sound units must be carefully avoided (syllables, rimes, word families, etc.). Whole word approaches must also be avoided. (note: There are several exceptions at the advanced code level).
- The pronunciation of the phonemes is critically important and must be carefully modeled by the teacher and in digital applications.
- After teaching the sounds, we must teach the letters that represent the sounds, beginning with the simplest.
- A soon as the child begins to decode (read) words, she (he) must then begin to encode and write words. This exposes the child to one of the most important features of the code…reversibility.
- At this point we must also begin working on reading comprehension. Reading comprehension is the endpoint that we’re striving for so instruction in this area needs to begin at the earliest possible stage in reading instruction. This early connection is very important.
- Writing is integrated into the program at the earliest possible point.
- At this point and throughout this process, spelling word lists should mirror the sound/letter relationships that the child has mastered in reading. “Sight words” should be avoided whenever possible in the early stages.
- As the child progresses, all phonemes of the language must be taught. Most phonemes can be spelled differently; this variation must also be taught.
- Rule-based phonics should be avoided as these systems do not work because there are no consistently correct rules to explain the irregularity of English spellings.
- Children should be taught that the sounds of English can be spelled in different ways; this variation must be systematically taught using a probability-based model.
- Decoding must be developed to the point that it is automatic; automatic decoding frees up the child’s cognitive processing to focus on comprehension.
Any reading instruction program that carefully follows these (and only these) guidelines will be successful. Unfortunately, most of the commercially-available reading programs available today do not meet any of these criteria much less all of them.