Review: The Reading Lesson Delivers Results

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When we started homeschooling in 2010, my two eldest daughters (now 13 1/2 and 12) had already learned to read in school. My youngest was only three, and although she could memorize almost anything put to music, she wasn’t showing much interest in learning to visually recognize or write letters just yet. So I asked the most successful homeschooler I knew (my sister-in-law Rosanna) what she used to teach her son to read, borrowed a copy, and shelved it for future use.

That book was “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.” And even though the concept sounded great, worked for her son, and seemed to work for my daughter initially, she got bored right away! It got to the point where she would grimace (as if in pain) when I pulled out the book, turn her face away and beg me to do anything else. So we took a break: I thought maybe she wasn’t ready.

The following year, we tried again. Same reaction. So we tried two more methods and books recommended by my homeschooling friends who have been successful at teaching reading, but my primarily auditory, kinesthetic learner seemed to dread each one. When I discovered The Reading Lesson, I was desperate to find something that would hold the attention of my now-six-year-old beyond the first few weeks of use.

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I’m happy to report that The Reading Lesson delivered results for us! Not only were we able to get past the first few lessons without tears and complaints, we reached that “lightbulb” moment when my daughter began to understand HOW to read — not just memorize — and could sound out words on her own in any environment.

I originally purchased the downloadable PDF eBook version of The Reading Lesson online. After having great results, I contacted the publisher (Mountcastle) and was offered the opportunity to review the entire Reading Lesson package. I was thrilled!

full-packageHere’s what The Reading Lesson “Big Package” includes:

  • A print copy of The Reading Lesson book
  • An interactive Reading Lesson CD with games, printouts, and more
  • The Storybook CD
  •  The Writing Lesson CD
  •  The Sounds of Letters DVD
  • Verbal Math Lesson 1
  • Verbal Math Lesson 2
  • A soft Giggle Bunny toy
  • Giggle Bunny Tee Shirt
  • A free ebook version of Teach Me Handwriting
  • Shipping is FREE (for all orders within the US)

This set (a $179.90 value) is currently on sale for $124.95. For the purposes of this review, we used The Reading Lesson book, the interactive CD, the Storybook CD, the Sounds of Letters DVD, and the Writing Lesson. I will be reviewing Verbal Math in another post.

 

What We Loved

The Method: The Reading Lesson combines the Phonic and Whole Language methods in a simple, structured, parent-directed format. According to the publisher: “The majority of children – nearly 80 percent – can learn to read regardless of the teaching method used. But for the other 20 percent – particularly those with reading difficulties – the combination of Phonics and the Whole Language is the best way to teach reading.” I believe this was definitely true of my daughter.

The Reading Lesson is divided into 20 individual lessons that consist of words, exercises and short stories. Approximately 250 key words form the basis of reading skills in The Reading Lesson, and each lesson introduces a set of key words that your child will learn before you proceed to the next lesson. The short stories (and writing assignments, if you use the complementary Writing Lesson program) use the same key words, which helps strengthen and speed up the process of learning to read. How it works in detail is explained online here.

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For my daughter, the combination of these reading methods and the way the lessons were presented made perfect sense, and she was able to progress quickly without forgetting what she had just learned (which happened a lot with previous attempts). I also think the complementary writing component really helped her solidify her reading skills. This combined method made the most sense to me as a teacher as well.

We also liked the structure of each lesson. After mastering the new sounds, she would color the visual prompts for the sounds and we would move on to the words. After practicing the words, we’d start the first short story of the lesson — first coloring, then reading. This flow worked really well for my little mover and kept her attention for the 15 minutes or so that we would focus on the lesson. I think that having several short stories sprinkled through the lessons also gave her a sense of accomplishment every day. We celebrated every story completed with stickers on the pages and our tracking chart, and this kept her excited about moving forward.

The Tools: As I mentioned earlier, my daughter learns more naturally when she’s listening and moving. We really enjoyed the interactive computer games and animation provided by the supplementary CDs and DVD. Although she was already comfortable with her alphabet sounds when we received the package to evaluate, she still enjoyed the Sounds of Letters DVD. Holding the Giggle Bunny and getting to play with him on the computer engaged my daughter with the program in a way that nothing else had before. We also received Giggle Bunny stickers for the free downloadable progress chart — and who doesn’t love stickers?

The Price: Initially, I downloaded two free lessons from The Reading Lesson Web site. I really appreciate companies that allow you to try before you buy, and within two lessons, we were sold!

I initially purchased the eBook version of The Reading Lesson (on sale at the time for less than $30), and I found it to be very affordable when compared to other reading programs I was evaluating and those I had already purchased. It’s more than the $14.95 Amazon.com price for the first book we purchased, however I think it’s a great value for what you receive. This is a very complete, stand-alone curriculum that can deliver results without supplements. Personally, I recommend the writing supplement, and the interactive games are wonderful if your child isn’t primarily a visual learner. However, even without these tools, your child should be well on his or her way to reading proficiently with The Reading Lesson alone.

 

What I Missed

No Flash Cards: The only thing we missed in The Reading Lesson were flash cards, which are left out intentionally. The creators of the program explain that they did not want to offer too many “moving parts – flash cards, worksheets, and unnecessary instructions for parents” in their program. Having purchased a program with many, many “moving parts” in the past, I can understand where they are coming from.

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However, for my little mover, flash cards provide a break from book pages. Even though the pages in The Reading Lesson are visually clean and simple, there are still a lot of words on the page — and easily distracted young readers may struggle with that. When I can see my daughter starting to lose focus on the page and jumble her words, I like to be able to pull her attention away from the book and onto something more simple, like a flash card. As we got deeper into the book and the key words were longer, I began simple making flash cards of my own for this purpose, but I would have loved the option to purchase a pack that mirrored the books clean and playful design.

That said, we have no complaints about The Reading Lesson: We love it! It’s affordable, easy-to-follow, and effective reading curriculum based on proven reading methods working in combination to improve your results. And we’re happy to share that Mountcastle is giving away The Reading Lesson “Big Package to one NextGen Homeschool reader! Enter the giveaway below: Giveaway is open until midnight on Sept 30!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review Disclosure: After purchasing my own digital copy, I received the Reading Lesson set listed above for free for evaluation purposes; however, I was not compensated for this review post, and my opinions are entirely my own and based on a personal review of the entire curriculum set. Although we receive a small commission for any other affiliate links that are used on our site to make a purchase, we are not compensated in any way for the purchase of this product.

Renée Gotcher is a wife, writer, editorial consultant, and home-educating mother of three daughters. She has been married for 26 years to her best friend Kenny, whom she met while attending Oral Roberts University in the early 90s. Renée was homeschooled during her last two years of high school and started homeschooling in 2010. A former journalist, she is currently editor of NextGen Homeschool and blogs on personal topics at A New Chapter. Her family lives in Castle Rock, Colorado.

21 thoughts on “Review: The Reading Lesson Delivers Results

  1. I like well-rounded reading curriculums that incorporate different ways to learn, that way children who have different learning styles can still benefit from the activities.

    1. Hi Kristan! You are our grand prize winner – congratulations! Check your email for details. Thank you for entering our drawing and sharing the news through Twitter!

  2. In so glad I stumbled across this article tonight! We are in the same boat. Kid 1 learned to read in school, but kid 2 is on me. We have tried Teach your child to read in 100 lessons, but she gets bored. I have been searching for something that would work for us. This sounds great!

    1. I’m so glad you found our review today as well, Kelly! Sounds like The Reading Lesson may be a great solution for you, too. I love the fact that you can download a couple of lessons for free and see how it fits for both you and your child before you buy anything. I’d love to hear if it works out for you! 🙂

  3. I have successfully used 100 Easy Lessons with 3 of my 5 kids, one of which is a very kinesthetic learner. Child #4 is seeming to have some differ try but wanting to learn to read. She is very bright and gets the information and is even reading some of the words and remembering them but she doesn’t seem to be enjoying it or remembering everything. I’d like something that engages her and helps her learn in a way she understands and in a way that is not intimidating. This program looks great! Thanks for the review!

    1. You’re welcome Rachel! Give the free downloadable lessons a try. She sounds a lot like my daughter in that she wasn’t enjoying the 100 Easy Lessons book and wasn’t remembering what she’d learned just a few lessons later. I think that the way The Reading Lesson combines both Phonic & Whole Language helps with solidifying what is learned in each lesson. I also like the fact that they’re reading short stories right away, and in context I think the new words are easier to recognize again & again. Let me know how it goes!

  4. I’m looking for something to help me teach my daughter who is dyslexic that’s not going to make her dread reading

  5. Loved to check this out for my youngest two. I have tried various things based on my kiddos.

  6. Hello. We are using The reading Lesson with my 5yo son. He is doing great! I am curious to know what program to use after? I really don’t know what program to use next.

    1. Hi Lizbeth!
      I’m so glad to hear the Reading Lesson is working well for your son. By the time we finished the book, my daughter was reading so well that we just went straight into the integrated subjects curriculum that I was already using for my older daughters (Trail Guide to Learning), which included short readers & chapter books and pulled the language & grammar lessons from the reading material. So I did not do a stand-alone language arts curriculum with her after, just that curriculum and Sequential Spelling to supplement her spelling needs. This year we’re part of a program called “Artios” that has its own integrated subject curriculum structured similarly to Trail Guide, and its grammar lessons are based on the Analytical Grammar curriculum. So far that is working well for us. My sis-in-law Rosanna Ward, also a writer on this blog, has had success with the First Language Lessons series. I’ll see if she can chime in any advice she might have.
      Renée

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