My 4 year old is very interested in learning letters and their sounds. We recently received a complimentary copy of the Learning Dynamics Reading Program and now he’s beginning to work on his own school at home using this children’s reading program. This makes him feel like he’s doing pretty important things with his day, kind of like his older homeschooling siblings!
Learning Dynamics sent us the whole set, designed for 4-7 year olds, which includes:
- Lesson Manual to guide teachers/parents through each lesson, step by step.
- Student Workbook for students to practice writing letters and coloring pictures that correspond with the lesson.
- Flashcards to tie the characters from their lessons to the printed form of the letter to help them recognize its appearance and practice the sounds. We also received plain flashcards with each letter, including uppercase and lowercase.
- Alphabet Songs CD with over 30 songs that correlate perfectly with the lessons. This was one of my son’s favorite parts of the program, and I caught him singing what he remembered throughout the day, even on the weekends!
- Over 50 Readers which presents stories to children using only what they have mastered in their lessons, which means that most children will be able to read their first book in just 4 weeks!
- Letter Rewards, which are the cute little flashcard looking things on the very bottom left of the picture above. As your child finishes a lesson, they get to keep a little character that they learned about in their lesson.
Lessons are designed to take just 15 minutes per day, a few times per week. Someone has to sit with the child and do it with them, but the lessons are pretty well scripted for the parent so there is absolutely no guess work in what you are supposed to say, do, show them, or what track to play on the CD. It’s all clearly stated and simple to follow.
I’ve seen this advertised on Facebook a lot, and you probably have too if you’ve seen the ads for the “4 Weeks to Read” program.
We chose to work on the program 3 times a week, but you could easily do it every day if your child is enjoying it and picking it up that quickly. If not, backing off to a few days a week will still work well and they’ll retain so much.
If you have multiple children, or you want to reuse this program with future children, you are able to reuse everything except the student workbook. They do sell those individually for around $18, so it isn’t necessary to purchase the entire set for multiple children.
To listen to the reason behind this program and why and how it works, watch this brief video:
For my son, I chose to do the program exactly by the book. We followed the lessons precisely as written, including all of the activities with the flashcards and the music, as well as the student workbook. My son is not very good with forming his letters, or any writing for that matter, but we did it anyway. Usually I would have him try to write the letter on a blank sheet of white paper at whatever size he wanted, and once he got pretty confident with that, we tried it on the workbook page with the dotted lines.
These early lessons we have been working on go something like this: introducing a letter, showing them the card with the letter on it, and telling them the name and sound, then quizzing them on it. Then you tell a silly story that uses the character “mascot” of that letter sound. Next, listen and sing along with the song on the CD that goes with the lesson. Next, work on the worksheet, discussing and sounding out the letter, forming it and working on penmanship, and coloring the objects that begin with that letter. Again, listen to the letter song and follow along in the workbook, pointing out the objects as they are mentioned in the song, that begin with that letter sound. Finally, do a quick check with the child asking them what the letter is while holding up the flashcard, asking about the sound, and giving the child the letter reward. There’s also an optional activity that serves as enrichment that you can do with your child that day, or in between lesson days.
He has had a lot of fun crossing out the words that don’t begin with the sound of the letter we’ve learned about at each lesson.
I don’t know if we got a bad batch of student workbooks or what, but our pages have come off of the binding in the workbook after using them. It isn’t a huge deal, but I wish the coils in the workbooks were closed or that the opening wasn’t so close to the front. I’ve just been tucking the pages back in and will eventually paperclip them or stick them in a folder or something as we finish more.
My son is very musically inclined, so the CD was his favorite part of the whole program. I uploaded a little clip of him singing the first song, which you can see below:
View this post on Instagram
Ad We have been using the @4weekstoread system from Learning Dynamics a few times a week for the past month and a half. Ethan hasn’t been quite ready, but I think we are starting to turn a corner with blending sounds, hallelujah! This is his version of one of the songs on the included CD that came with the program. Music helps him to remember so much, and I’m glad it’s part of the #4weekstoread #readingprogram. There will be #moreontheblog at realandquirky.com today if you want to know more about it.
My son is still a bit on the immature side for this program. It is colorful, fun, hands-on, and musical, but he still has taken to it very slowly. Normally, I would have just shelved the program for a few weeks or months and try again, but for the purpose of this review, we continued using the materials 3-4 times a week even though he wasn’t retaining much for the first month.
In the teacher’s manual and student workbook, it leads the parent and student through 5 lessons, teaching the letters M, A, P, S, and then T. Then there is a review lesson, followed by a lesson on blending. Next, they learn B, H, and G. At this point, if the student knows their letter sounds that have been taught so far, and they understand blending, then it is time to move on to Book 1.
Remember, there are over 50 books in this program, including 23 short-vowel books before moving on to two-vowel books.
I think my son is finally turning a corner. THIS MORNING he has started being able to actually blend, after about 6 weeks of reviewing the first 9 sounds over and over again, as well as practicing blending.
Believe me, this is my 5th kid learning to read, so I know how to work phonics practice into our day-to-day lives, such as finding objects that begin with different letter sounds, but he just has not been ready. There are even optional activities in the manual that can help a struggling child, and we did all of those, too. It just took him a while, and he’s still working on it.
The instructions say not to start the books until they know the sounds and how to blend them, that way they experience some amazing success with their very first book.
The front cover of the books tell you what words will be introduced, so you can make sure that your student will be successful before pulling out the readers. Even the higher level books do this. They also introduce Sight Words quite a ways through the program to help your child to become more familiar with common words that just don’t follow the phonics rules.
Learning Dynamics recommends looking through the book and talking about the pictures, praising your child and encouraging them, never making them struggle. Kids should then re-read the book until they’re fluent at it until they move on to another book.
Reading should take place 5-10 minutes a day once your child has moved through to begin using the readers, and plenty of review is recommended. Consistency is very important, as well as creating a positive reading environment.
Now that Ethan seems to be getting the blending part of the program, as well as remembering most of the letter sounds, we will slowly introduce the books. I have a feeling we’ll be reviewing the same one for a week or two before being able to add on, but we are in no hurry. Once it starts to click for him, this program is so complete and dynamic that he’ll have no choice but to take it and fly!
The music, colorful readers, cute characters in the songs and flashcards, and the easy-to-follow and SHORT lessons are all huge strengths of this program that will help him to succeed in his own time.
I’m very happy with the program and will continue to use it casually, but consistently with him for the upcoming school year. I like the sequence of the lessons and the way it is set up for ease of use.
It can be hard to find the best reading program for your child. I definitely recommend looking into the Learning Dynamics program, especially if your child does best with songs, colorful books, and being able to color a bit.
Our family used this for my 4 year old, but others used it on children a little bit older or at a different pace. Read about their experiences by clicking on the banner below: