I was introduced to Reading Horizons (RH) nine years ago when I had two students move to our school district from Guyana. They were nine and eleven years old and had no formal schooling. Never in my career was there such an urgent need to use the most direct, explicit literacy instruction available. I asked our school psychologist for advice and she recommended Reading Horizons.
Originally our district purchased Discover Intensive Phonics (K-3) and v4 (4-adult) for our English as a Second Language (ESL) program. We have updated and now use Reading Horizons Discovery and Elevate. We have also expanded the use of RH as the core phonics program in grades 1, 2 and 3, primarily using direct instruction due to a lack of computers.
I saw immediate success for students so I began inviting struggling readers to join my English Language Learners’ small group instruction. All students gained reading levels (Fountas and Pinnell). Parents, teachers, and students were excited about this new-found success! The local Lifelong Learning Council hired me to instruct parents and their children in RH methodology. Two families completed the program and were extremely pleased and enthusiastic about their ability to help younger siblings learn to read. More recently, our superintendent suggested I try RHD with a group of six fourth grade students, who were reading on a first grade level and had Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). They responded by committing to a class before school daily. They cheered with excitement when they mastered a new reading skill and successfully read each online story out loud. Students gained 1-5 reading levels in one semester. My ESL population increased and this before-school program lasted only one semester. Students asked frequently to have the program reinstated. Primarily, I have used RHD to teach English Language Learners, with tremendous success.
Having taught for 30 years I have seen many reading programs come and go; from basal reading series to balanced literacy; from phonics to whole language. RH provides the most direct, explicit instruction to insure success for all learners. It is fun and engaging for students so they look forward to reading and learning new strategies every day. The methodology allows teachers to teach each skill necessary for students to rapidly decode words, promoting fluency and comprehension. Every student feels empowered to decode words. I can say, with the use of RH and dedication on the student’s part, I can teach any child to read.