I was recently given the opportunity to review a wonderful reading program created by Erika Burton, Ph.D. called Stepping Stones Together. This particular program was created as a valuable parent-child resource for developing beginning reading skills and is designed for children between the ages of 3 and 7. My husband and I firmly believe in encouraging a love of books and learning from a very early age and have used many different techniques to do so with our 4 little ones. Although reading came very naturally to our oldest son (now 6), I was anxious to try the Stepping Stones Together program with my 4 year old to see if it would be another effective tool to add to our teaching arsenal (Note: Although our children do attend school outside of the home, we believe that learning starts at home and are always looking for ways to supplement what they receive in the formal classroom).
The Stepping Stones Together program teaches children to read using high frequency words that are used every day (often referred to as "sight words") and have been found to make up 58-75% of all words in children's books . One thing I really like about this program is that your child can choose the particular reading topic in the series that peaks his/her interest, whether it be animals, sports, fairies, superheroes, or a whole host of other subjects. As with all learning, when a subject matter, in this case words, is learned in a meaningful context that the child enjoys, it happens faster and easier and tends to be retained with increased accuracy.
Once your child has selected the topic that interests him/her, you can print the black & white formatted 8-9 page book from your computer. With 4 little ones, I love that the books can also be saved in PDF files for future use! For optimal retention and to help develop fluidity of reading, it is recommended that you spend more than a few days on each book with your child and that each reading session take roughly 15-20 minutes. I used a progression format in which I read the entire book to my son the first 2 times (as he followed along), he assisted me with familiar words the next 2 times, and finally, he tried sounding out the less familiar words on the final day or two (we chose to spend a week on each selection). The program also comes with flash cards, comprehension questions, and writing prompts, which seem to be quite helpful.
We had a wonderful time trying out the Stepping Stones Together program, and I look forward to not only continuing to use it with my 4 year old once the school year starts in a couple of weeks, but also using it with my other children in the future.
Try it for yourself: Stepping Stones Together is offering this program in 2 very affordable options. For $19.99 you can purchase their 60 Day Program (which actually gives you access for 90 days) or for $39.99 you can receive unlimited access for a whole year! Not sure if your child is ready for reading? Check out their helpful FAQs for some guidance.
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored review. The makers of this program provided me with access to the 60-day program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are based upon my own experiences and those of my son. No other compensation was received for this review.