I initially chose Reading Horizons for my facility because I visited the Atlanta Speech School to observe the great things taking place there. My philosophy was that if they were using Reading Horizons to teach dyslexic children to read then I could definitely use it at my school to teach struggling readers to read. The State of Alabama has just currently recognized dyslexia as "a specific learning challenge that is neurological in origin." I know that I have probably had dyslexic children come through my school but none have ever been identified. My visit to a nearby school was initiated because I know that I have a dyslexic child transitioning to my school in the fall of 2016. I wanted to see what they had done to teach the child to read. I discovered Reading Horizons.
The initial results were astounding! The greatest improvements were immediately seen in first grade. I had children that were constantly making zeros on spelling tests because they did not know the phonics skills. These children went from making zeros to making one hundreds! They were learning the skills, NOT memorizing spelling words for a test on Friday and forgetting them by the next Monday! The strugglers were learning to read! We only started the program in January of 2016 and were seeing results within 2 weeks! I was completely blown away!
My favorite thing about Reading Horizons is the simplicity of the program. There isn’t a lot of “fluff.” The program is easy to teach and easy to learn. The children learned the rules of the program in just a few days. It was amazing to see kindergarten students doing the things that are required in Reading Horizons. The best thing about Reading Horizons is that it is so much more simple than the basal reading phonics programs we have had in the past, and the results far outweigh the results from the basal reading phonics programs. I have seen a drastic decline in reading over the eight years I have been an administrator. I have blamed this on the decline in phonics in the basal reading programs. A child has to have a good phonics foundation to be able to read well. If there isn’t a good phonics foundation, there will be reading problems the entire time the child is in school. The child will struggle with basic reading, comprehension, and eventually in subject matter reading because the complexity of the reading is too difficult to read and comprehend. If all children had Reading Horizons for a phonics foundation, those items would not be an issue.
Reading Horizons has made my life easier because of the teachers that are teaching today, most of them were not taught reading by phonics. These teachers were also not taught how to teach reading in college by teaching phonics. Therefore, phonics was a foreign language to them. Reading Horizons has changed that! My teachers are now confident when teaching phonics because Reading Horizons has made it simple. It isn’t a foreign language to them anymore! It isn’t difficult. This has made my life easier because I am not constantly searching for professional development for phonics, or searching for phonics programs to help teachers “band-aid” their reading basal phonics programs. We have completely taken the phonics program out of our reading basal and replaced it with Reading Horizons. I am now confident that the children are receiving a great phonics foundation so that they will all be great readers in the future.
As I have mentioned previously, Reading Horizons is the simplest phonics program I have seen in my 20 years of teaching experience. I would recommend it to other organizations because it makes the life of a teacher easier. There isn’t a lot of work and planning to do on the teacher’s behalf. This was a huge positive with my teachers. They loved this aspect. Typically, with other reading programs, there is a lot of work for the teacher to do….not with Reading Horizons! The biggest reason I recommend Reading Horizons is for the results I have seen at my school in the short amount of time that we have implemented the program. I can’t wait to see the results when we have had a full year to implement the program. I love data and I can’t wait to see the beginning of the year as compared to the end of the year for the kindergarten, first, and second graders that are learning from Reading Horizons.
There is a student story that stands out… I have a student that was in first grade. He has repeated kindergarten at his previous school. He came to my school because he had been placed with grandparents the previous year because his parents could not take care of him. His grandparents were aging and were no longer able to care for him so he was placed in foster care and that is when he came to my school. Not long after he came to my school he learned that his grandfather passed away and within a month, his grandmother passed away also. Shortly thereafter, he was placed in his second foster home. Therefore, school was not a priority for this child. He was failing. We were struggling to teach him to read but reading was not a focus for him in first grade. He was more concerned about his home life and rightfully so. He was not receiving much help in his foster home because they were trying to help with other issues at hand. All of this took place between August 2015 and January 2016. We started Reading Horizons in January 2016. This is the child that went from making constant zeros and failing grades on his spelling tests to making a 105 during the second week of implementation of Reading Horizons! He did this because he understood the teaching of the phonics lessons that were taking place in his classroom. That is something that he had never done before! He ended the year with a high B for his reading grade for the last grading period! Unbelievable!