Review of: Reading Head Start
Phonics & Reading Strategies for Kids
Overall Lesson Quality
4.5 out of 5
This is a great program. It’s made by top-tier educator and mother, Sarah Shephard, who has made tremendous strides in reading education in her community.
Results and Effectiveness
5 out of 5
After about a week and a half I could tell that my three year old daughter, Jen, was learning faster than ever. If that’s not an impeccable measure of effectiveness, I don’t know what is.
Ease of Use
4 out of 5
It took me a little while to figure out just how to printable and decodable passages worked with the lesson plans.
4 out of 5
$1 trial to see if it's right for you. It’s well worth the price, but I believe EVERYONE with a child (and every educator) should have this. $37 after the trial period.
- The straight-forward, day-to-day lesson plans are amazing.
- The printable cards and downloadable stories give you and your child instant access to fun stories that accompany each lesson.
- The weekly structure (40 weeks total) makes it easier to keep a regular schedule.
- Children from 2-9 can benefit from the program, whether they're struggling to learn reading skills or not.
We Don’t Love:
- The program doesn’t show you where you left off until you click the lesson.
- There's no initial assessment to determine where your child should begin. It's up to you to guess based on their guidelines.
- We wish they had longer, more complex reading options for older kids or students that make it past the 40 weeks.
- We also wish the downloadable books could be organized thematically and not just by reading level.
All in all, we feel that Reading Head Start has completely changed our destiny as parents. We’re writing this review because there’s simply no better way for parents to educate THEMSELVES on how to educate their child. Nothing is as important, and there’s unfortunately very little information out there about how to take advantage of proven learning techniques based on extensive research that even schoolteachers don’t know about. This stuff shouldn’t be a secret. You just have to try it to know how powerful it is.
As a busy mom and a nurse, it can be tough to juggle home education, work, housework (and all the other work) that tends to come with parent-hood.
But I know that taking the time to educate myself about the best resources for my family comes first.
Since you’re here reading this review, you probably feel the same way.
... And If you know anything about my family, you know that we take education seriously.
No, not in the brutal reading-writing-and-arithmetic-or-die kind of way, but definitely in the everyone-get-pumped-it’s-time-to-read-a-bedtime-story kind of way.
That’s why I wrote up this Reading Head Start Review: to share my experience with a program that helps parents like us teach our kids the single most important skill of their lifetime–using unexpected, fun, and stress-free reading lessons that actually work.
Hopefully it will work wonders for you and your kids too!
The Story of the Little Brainiac That Could(n’t at First)
My daughter Jen was dominating daycare. She was the first to write her name, and the first to beg for a new book. Granted, she has a penchant for doodling in all of her storybooks, but hey nobody's perfect.
When we realized she was really passionate about books compared to her peers, we gave ourselves a pat on the back.
Then, as any good parent would, I realized I needed to fuel the fire.
I came across YOUTUBE videos like this one of a baby reading, and I didn’t want Jen to be late to the party.
Here was the problem: At 4 years old, it was clear that it was time to teach her how to read. I tried several methods on my own and kept getting frustrated, which I knew wasn’t good for Jen’s outlook.
I think I made things worse, and I realized that she struggled well into her kindergarten years. Before I knew it she was in first grade, and somehow she’d fallen behind. Her first report card was a major wake-up call– she was performing below average in English.
Me and my husband were shocked, we felt like we failed as parents. I immediately realized that we didn’t know what we were doing. We needed to find a better way...
How To Teach A 4 Year Old To Read
Almost instantly after we started Jen on Reading Head Start, we noticed her progress began to snowball.
SERIOUSLY, without this we would have continued to teach our kids to read ALL WRONG. We also probably wouldn’t have kids that LOVE to go to school a heck of a lot more than we did. In fact, I can single-handedly trace all of Jen’s current success, confidence, and top-of-class status to this program.
My first question when I started to realize that it worked was, of course, WHY AREN'T MORE PARENTS USING THIS?
The Misconceptions That Keep Parents from Teaching Critical Early Reading Skills
The sad thing is, when I talk about it with friends, family, babysitters, and teachers about her progress, I realized exactly what it was that was holding so many young kids back.
When I talk about it with parents, I often run into the same concerns:
- Isn't it a bit much to start stressing my child out about their grades and performance?
- Some kids just need more time, maybe my kid is just a late-bloomer and I don't want to rush him/her.
- Or, C'mon, shouldn't kids be out having fun and making friends in their early years? Let's just let them be kids!
- Or (worst of all), maybe my daughter/son isn't really as smart as other top-performing kids in their class, but they have other talents that we can focus on.
All I want to say to this is STOP doubting the ability of your child, and STOP underestimating the benefits of the positive, challenging mental exercise that is reading.
Early literacy can have a major impact on a growing child’s life, in terms of their brain development, psychological well-being, and social standing in the early days of their education, all of which have a ripple effect on the whole of their educational career.
THIS REVIEW IS FOR YOU IF YOU ARE THE KIND OF PARENT...
- Who wants to pave the way for a lifetime of success for your child.
- Who wants your child to be confident about reading and school in general
- Who recognizes the value of a head start in learning and in life
- Who believes their child is capable of anything and everything
Reading Head Start Gives Your Child 5 Critical Techniques For Teaching Reading
- Greater Joy for Learning and a Positive Outlook on Their Educational Path
- Psychological Fortitude, Especially Positive Self Esteem
- Positive Social Interactions with the Best of Their Peers
- Linguistic Development and Communication Skills
- Optimal Neurological Development
Proven: The Best Way to Teach Your Child to Read Is To Teach Phonics
According to several studies, a solid reading foundation is built on phonemes. According to one of the most famous studies on phonemes and reading education conducted by the University of Umeå in Sweden, phoneme awareness is the single biggest predictor of reading success later on.
Similar findings have been showed ever since, like this long-term study on children struggling to read, which found that phonological teaching along with regular exposure to reading is significantly more effective than traditionally reading techniques alone.
And most parents, us included, don’t even know exactly what phonemes are.
According to our good friend Merriam-Webster, a phoneme is: any of the abstract units of the phonetic system of a language that correspond to a set of similar speech sounds (as the velar k of cool and the palatal k of keel) which are perceived to be a single distinctive sound in the language.
This is basically how your child figures out the sounds that correspond to a given letter, or combination of letters. This seems incredibly basic, but a lot of kids’ reading failure can be traced back to a lack of exposure of these phonemes.
Reading Success Hinges on Phonemic Awareness
When teaching children to read, pretty much all of us know that we need to show our kids how to recognize the connection between the letters of the alphabet and their sounds, but somehow many of us are still failing to teach it properly.
In fact, research shows that 25% of middle-class first-graders lack phonemic awareness. Even more of their peers from lower-class family’s struggle.
So, how do you get your child to start noticing the phonemic patterns that turn little letters on a page into words, then stories?
According to researchers and ReadingRockets.org, It involves a critical interplay of 2 branches of Phonology that are incredibly easy to confuse:
- Phonetics: How we articulate speech sounds and group them into sound-sequences.
- Phonics: How symbols can translate into those phonetic sounds.
A lot of parents and teachers get stuck (or hooked) on phonics and letter-sounds, without focusing on the subtle differences in sound that happen when letters are fused together, like how the sound –sub sounds like cub, but not like cube.
Sounding out letters isn’t quite enough if kids don’t have a solid recognition of those sound-groups, which takes a lot more emphasis than you’d think at the outset, especially if your child is already struggling.
The Reading Head Start program works to improve phonemic awareness by building strong pattern-recognition and sound-association skills through things like:
- Phoneme blending and segmenting
- Letter sounds and letter writing
- Phoneme substitution
- Irregular words
- Silent letters
- Compound words
- & More!
The Pros and Cons of Reading Head Start
- Tons of great lessons that build on one another in a single, cohesive learning plans
- A PHENOMENAL method for teaching phonemes, using exercises you wouldn’t expect
- It works fast, and you and your child can see and feel the results almost instantly. The pace is slow and steady, perfect for easing stubborn and struggling kids like Jen back into reading without becoming overwhelming.
- Some of the instructions are designed for groups, though you can do any of them one-on-one. Having a group-focused lesson plan makes it easy to teach multiple kids to read.
- Lack of personalization, though you can jump around lessons on your own if you think your child needs to get ahead or return to an old topic.
- There’s no individual assessment to help you figure out where your child should begin. They offer a loose guide on their lesson page, but it’s up to you to figure out where they need to be, which can be a bit of a drawback for children who have been struggling with reading for an extended period of time.
- It’s also hard to keep track of your progress. It would be great if each lesson had a title to make it easier to navigate if you forget which of the 40 weeks you left off at.
Let’s Walk Through The Signup Process and Features
Once you’ve watched the introductory video, we know you’ll have a great overview of the success children around the country have had with Reading Head Start. Just scroll down from the video on the first page and hit ‘Order.’ All you have to do is enter your payment info (they’re currently offering a $1 trial), and you’ll be on your way to reading success.
2. Get Familiar with Your Home Page
The moment you sign up or enter your login info, it takes you to this page. You'll notice a navigation menu to all of your learning resources, along with some more helpful features:
3. Give Yourself an Intro
Starting lesson 1 is as easy as hitting the button on the right, but we recommend watching this video for a run-down of how all the learning materials come together.
4. Browse Comprehensive Lesson-Plans
Each time you visit a new lesson, you’ll get a summary of the content, and specific instructions about how to teach each one.
5. Keep Track of Your Progress
You can check the activity monitor for new lessons to see how far along you are.
6. Browse Useful Tools
When you’re done with a lesson, you can visit a library of tools and flashcards to help you and your child practice.
7. Browse Digital Books for Each Lesson
You’ll also be able to visit a library of book downloads to complement each lesson.
8. Refreshers: Access Past Lessons and Tools
When you’re done with each of the 40 weeks, you can always return to the material or use the story books and flashcards to keep your child’s new skills fresh.
You can also do what we’re currently doing and pass it on to your next little one, even if they haven’t started reading lessons in school!
Reading Head Start FAQ's
We get a lot of questions from friends about this program, so we figured we’d throw in a little FAQ area to address some of the most common.
I’m a teacher, and I want to use these reading strategies for my class. Will this work for groups?
Absolutely! As we mentioned, the lessons are created by a teacher whose own sun struggled with reading. She re-framed their lessons into a handy guide for her students, which later became the Reading Head Start program. The lessons can easily be done alone or with peers.
How much does the product cost?
They offer a $1.00 trial and a $297 lifetime access deal that are pretty hard to pass up once you realize how well this works. At the time we wrote this Reading Head Start Review, these were the available discounts. We don’t expect them to last forever, so take advantage of them while you can!
How do I know it’s not too soon or too late for my child to start benefitting from Reading Head Start?
It’s never too soon or too late. Children anywhere from 2 years old to 9 years old have benefitted from the phonics lessons in this program, which is designed for both children that are struggling and children that want to leap ahead of their peers.
How does this differ from other, more popular reading programs?
As we mentioned, most reading programs only cover Phonics, and fail to integrate critical phoneme recognition lessons that have been proven to work time and time again. Teaching your child not only words and letter sounds, but speech patterns as well, gives them a more solid understanding of the parts that make up our spoken language. In the end, all of the helpful tools and fun stories help seal the deal and help your child become confident about their progress from day 1.
We love this product.
It’s made a huge difference in our child’s life, and it can probably make a huge difference in yours. Not only is Jen rocking her grades at school more than ever, but she’s feeling confident about her skills. She wants to read everything she can out loud, and we’re thrilled to have discovered kids’ phonics lessons that spark a passion for learning in her.
–Ok, enough of the mushy, proud mom stuff...
The bottom line is this:
If you care about your child’s future, and want to give them the best reading system on the market, it’s time to begin the Reading Head Start program. In just a few short weeks you’ll begin to see a difference in your child’s reading that will give them a lifetime of opportunity.