Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading

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  • Reviewed on Tuesday, September 17, 2013
  • Grades Used: Pre-K, K
  • Dates used: 2013
This is working so well for my barely five-year-old! But it wasn't always that way. Let me tell you what changed.

If I had reviewed this curriculum two weeks ago, I would have said that, although I love how systematic and thorough this program is, I was struggling with getting my daughter interested in it. The lack of pictures and color COULD be helpful in focusing the child's attention on only the letters shown and on forming the cvc words; but to my daughter, there was nothing interesting or captivating. She is not one to be drawn to something just because it is new information. Having an older daughter to whom learning has always been an effortless and enjoyable process, I can see a big difference with my younger daughter. She learns best from indirect teaching, rather than from a formal lesson, and especially with the use of technology or games. The sit-down lesson format of this program, with it's lack of anything visually stimulating, was a drag for her. Also, although the lesson material is printed in a larger, more elementary font, my daughter tended to be overwhelmed by the shear number of words on the page (as the teacher's script and information is printed on the same page the child reads from). As a result, our lessons became a daily battle.

I began looking into other programs (particularly Explode the Code, and Hooked on Phonics), but was discouraged by the apparent public school-use format of ETC, and the cost of HOP. In a last-ditch effort to make it work, I struck gold with a great solution, which I have wanted to share ever since--in hopes that it will help someone else stick with this great curriculum!

So this is how our reading lessons go now.

I open this little app I have on the iPad, called Doodle Buddy. In essence, it has a bunch of backgrounds and stamps to choose from, which your child can use to 'stamp the page.' My daughter's favorite is a beach background, and the many sea creature stamps that come in the app.
I hand the iPad to her, open Word on my laptop, and grab OPGTTR.

I explain to her any necessary information for the new lesson, and then type in Word (with a large-sized Primer Print font that I downloaded for free) the first letter of the word we're trying to read. After she sounds it out, I continue with the other two or three letters in the same way, until she has completed the word. When she has 'read' it correctly, I praise her and tell her she can 'stamp' her 'page' on the iPad once. She loves the immediate reward for each correctly-read word! I delete the first word, and continue through the rest of the lesson the same way--going slowly, one letter or digraph at a time, until she has sounded it out correctly. Each time, she gets another stamp. The lessons each include small sentences for the child to read (increasing in length and complexity as the book progresses). I type these in the same way, one or two letters at a time as she sounds them out, until she has read the whole sentence. She can stamp her page five times for each sentence.

I know this isn't much, but for us it has made a world of difference! Instead of complaining, dragging, whining and hiding when it's time for her reading lesson, my daughter excitedly takes the iPad, opens her app, chooses her stamps, and reads her words and sentences. It's a night and day change! She is also reading faster, which I think stems from her change of attitude about reading in general.

I am using the iPad and my laptop because those are the things my daughter is drawn to--technology and visual/auditory stimulation. But you could just as easily do this with an actual set of stamps/stamp pad, and a piece of paper and pencil for yourself. Or find another method of providing the incentive your child needs!

The curriculum is great. It is solid, systematic, thorough, and literally open-and-go. It's also complete AND inexpensive. The drawbacks (for me) have to do with it's lack of visual stimulation. But I understand that, for many children, this may be an asset and not a drawback. If your child has a natural curiosity about letters and desire to read, it would probably be great, as is. But for those of us with kiddos who lose interest quickly and become discouraged easily, the addition of audio/visual stimulation and instant gratification adds greatly to these lessons. If you are willing to think outside the box and get a little creative, you can use this book as a 'spine' and come up with other solutions for your child!


  • Reviewed on Wednesday, March 6, 2013
  • Grades Used: Age 4
  • Dates used: 2010-present
I have examined many "teach your child to read" programs and this one has been my favorite. No "fluff" and it covers everything. The lessons are scripted which helps to get a feel for how the interaction between you and your child should ideally go, but you quickly grasp the concept and don't have to rely on reading everything word for word. While this book does not rely on the benefit of learning sight words (a few are introduced now and again), I appreciate the importance that is placed on giving a child a strong phonics foundation. I started my little ones with the Preschool Prep Company videos and books before using OPGTTR so they already had their letter recognition down as well as a wide variety of sight words.

I found the use of the capital "i" as "I" confused my kids at first but a few times correcting the mix-up was all that was needed. I find it ironic that it is a complaint on many reviews but the font used in this review actually displays the capital "i" the same way.

My son has not liked reading the sentences and short stories included in each lesson. I stopped having him read from the book altogether, and just use magnetic letters and my written words on a separate sheet of paper.

I don't think there is just one perfectly right program to teach your child to read. I think you could find fault in just about all of them depending on your teaching style as well as your child's learning style, and so on. This program, however, seems easy to adapt to fit your individual needs as well as your child's. And the author gives plenty of tips and insight in the back of the book.


  • Reviewed on Friday, May 25, 2012
  • Grades Used: K/1st
  • Dates used: 2011-2012
We have been using OPGTR since last July. I really like the systematic way that it teaches kids to read. Sometimes it can be a lot to retain, all of the things covered in past lessons (we're currently around 160ish), but now that his reading skills are such that he can read books, we just read a book a day to work on fluency and review.
Also, my son did not do well just reading out of the book on this - I write the sentences on a whiteboard and he underlines each word as he reads it. He's more of a kinesthetic learner, and having a task per word helps him focus better. When, at the beginning, we just read out of the book, it was met with tears. This has taken that away completely.
It still isn't his favorite, BUT he does well with it and we will be finishing it up through our next school year. :)


  • Reviewed on Monday, February 8, 2010
  • Grades Used: PreK - K
  • Dates used: 2009
I liked this book but my son did not. It is a complete curriculum for teaching a child to read. They gave suggestions for incorporating all the senses. My 5yo boy, who loves to sing, was surprisingly resistant to the songs. The homemade flashcards were not received much better. We've moved on several times. We're currently using Hooked On Phonics with mostly good results.