Our single greatest concern about the process of learning to read is what it tacitly teaches our children about themselves, about their own minds. 

For the most part, up until the time children learn to read, their natural ‘compass’ for learning is oriented to following their own inner revelations.  Everything they do undulates with feelings of ambivalence and their remarkable learning power comes from their growing ability to swim in the stream of it – from their ability to disambiguate their differentiations in the flow of their experiencing.  Children learn to walk by moving towards reducing the ambivalence they feel in their sense of falling. The same process of processing orients their learning in all real-time, all-at-once, ‘natural’ situations.

When children begin to learn to read they encounter a radically different environment than their many millions-of-years-in-the-evolving organisms ever evolved to learn in. Here, their compass is not equipped to guide them and, as they have no other choice, they learn to subordinate their inside-out compass for the outside-in evaluations of an external authority.  In itself this isn’t a problem. What is a problem is that in the case of reading, the external authority is overwhelmingly ambiguous.

As you must have gleaned from reading the contents of this site, our learning to read process is seriously complicated by the highly ambiguous code the children must learn to read with. For the majority of our children, struggling with the ambiguity in the code not only impedes their learning to read it becomes an environment in which they are susceptible to becoming ashamed of their own minds – of feeling ‘bad’ about themselves because they can’t read well enough. As with all human beings, children tend to shrink back from things that make them feel bad about themselves.  To continue to allow children to develop such feelings, because they have trouble relating to this messy code, an unnatural human artifact is nothing less than gross negligence.

It is our view that concurrent to the process of learning to read children should learn how to ‘relate’ to the whole learning to read process.

The Story of Reading

With fable-like storytelling, we should help children understand that learning to read is like driving a car or running a dishwasher, its about learning to use a human invented machine - it is not a natural process.  A cartoonish history of writing is helpful, one in which cave men learn to make scratches on sticks to make ‘receipts’ – where clay pots hold tokens of agreements and later flatten to have little word-pictures scratched into them – where paper and pen take over for clay and scratching sticks and where the pictures become symbols of the sounds of words rather than simply images of the things words refer to.

Along the storyline we should help children understand what a ‘code’ is, how our machines are run by codes, how spies use secret codes, how our bodies depend on biological codes and that reading is a process of learning to ‘decode’ a code. Most importantly, we should help children realize that this code of ours is confusing, that way back in the days before Robin Hood a way of talking and a way of writing were forced to fit together.  That, there were many mistakes in the way they were put together – mistakes that make learning to read unnaturally difficult.

All this may seem too much for little children but its not. By helping them have a sense of what it is they are learning to do, especially in understanding that if it’s hard for them it doesn’t mean there is something wrong with them, we provide them a way to ‘contextualize’ their frustrations in learning to read where they belong. Rather than blaming themselves for their frustrations they can attribute their struggle to the somewhat ‘messed up code’.


At work here


  Alternate Letter Sounds – spectrum

  Alternate Letter Sounds – discrete

  Alternate Letter Sounds – silent

  Combined Letter Sounds



  Adjustable ceiling on decoding

  Ambiguity isolation

  Phase out ramping of cues



Technology & props...

ABC blocks with alternate letter sounds on the blocks

Visual Phonic Scrabble




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