Children learn to read by reading in a fairly tale adventure. Your child reads and writes complete sentences. When learning to read is fun, children want to read.     

Learn beginning reading - ¬reading is exploring     

Bridge to Reading
Teach your child to read

Use the Capabilities of a Computer to Enhance Learning

     Bridge to Reading is a computer program that takes a child on the journey from being a non-reader to being a beginning reader. From the first screen, the child is reading a story. Pictures, sound, and animation provide a context for reading and hold a child's interest.
     Bridge to Reading has a continually increasing reading level, both in vocabulary and sentence complexity. It starts with 'Cat' and moves slowly to 10-15 word sentences. Words are gradually introduced through the events on the screen that provide a meaningful context for their comprehension. Introduction of new words is carefully spaced out, so that previous words have become familiar, but there is constant learning. Every word has at least eight repetitions, several close to the place it was originally introduced.
     Each word is introduced in such a way that its meaning is reinforced from the context of the sentence and the graphics on the screen. Since each use is within a meaningful context, the word becomes a meaningful object, a word attached to a concept. Conceptualization means that words are in long-term memory, while things learned by rote are often only in short term memory. The habits and skill of reading English are also learned while reading the story--the action moves from left to right, to reinforce the directionality of the print. Children are shown that sentences start with capital letters, and are introduced to commas and question marks. Sentence structure and syntax are learned naturally, by reading real sentences.
     Bridge to Reading concentrates on 105 of the most common words: conjunctions, prepositions, article and "to be" verbs. All of these are less tangible than concrete nouns, and so may be more difficult to remember when not presented in context. However, these are the words which are very common in everything that we read, and facility with them makes reading smooth and easy. The 100 most common words make up about 50% of the words in children's literature. Seventy-four of the words on the Dolch sight word list are in Bridge to Reading. By becoming familiar with these very common words, children can concentrate on new words in the sentences, while if a child stumbles on several words in a sentence, he may lose the meaning of the sentence as a whole.
     Because of the intensity with which children work on it, thirty minutes is long enough for a child to work on the story, even though most children do not want to stop. Depending on the child, they will finish the story in about 12 sessions, which need not be on consecutive days. In our experience, after a 3 week Christmas break, kindergartners remembered everything they had already learned.
     By the end of chapter seven, children will have learned 105 of the most common English words, and be used to reading sentences with dependent clauses, prepositional phrases, conditional sentences, gerunds, etc. Of course, they won't know the names of these grammatical constructions, but they have heard them and spoken them. Now they can read them. We have found that some words that a child did not know when pre-tested were known when they came up in the context of the story. Reading for meaning is not only a powerful motivation for reading, but it also helps focus and organize things previously learned, including things learned before the child started the program, or learned elsewhere in than a formal education setting.

Real Learning

     Bridge to Reading is fundamentally different from most of the educational games and 'edutainment' programs currently on the market. It has no 'shoot-em-ups', high scores or other distracting elements. In most educational programs, the reward, in sound and animations, is extrinsic to the action the child is supposed to perform; it is a treat given for a trick. In this program, the reward is intrinsic. That is, as in reading a book, the reward of reading is to finding out what happens next. In using this program the children spend 90—95% of their time reading and spelling out text that is the core of an interesting story. By reading and writing himself, instead of being read to, the child is actively engaged in the learning process.
     All of the children with whom we tested the program for at least 4 sessions were able to read meaningfully by the end of that time. While their vocabulary was still limited, they were reading and comprehending the story (as shown by the fact that they could discuss what they had just read, read with correct inflection, and could select the correct word when a sentence was given with a word missing, and a choice to be made). Comprehension was not separate from reading the story. All of the children we worked with enjoyed using the program and were proud of their new skills.
     We have also tested the program with children at schools for the hearing impaired and for children with ADD/ADHD and other learning disabilities. Some of these children made slower progress but all learned quite well. Their teachers agreed that Bridge to Reading was very helpful with these children

Real Reading is Reading for Meaning

     With Bridge to Reading comprehension is an integral part of reading from the very beginning. The use of a computer allows an engaging story to be conveyed, read and enjoyed with an extremely simple vocabulary. Bridge to Reading does not rely on the contrived sentences of 'rhyming word' systems. From the first screen, there is a plot and a continuing desire to know what happens next. Pictures that move can illustrate new words, and also provide an enticement for the child. The child identifies strongly with the characters on the screen and sees their own role as active, not passive.
     Bridge to Reading provides a 'bridge' for a child to cross from non-reading to being able to actively read on his/her own. This jump is the most difficult and generally the least rewarding part of learning to read, because it usually involves the rote memorization of things that have no meaning to the child, instead of a real story. Once real reading has been achieved, vocabulary grows easily as the child eagerly reads more and more.
     Most of the words in any new text will be familiar to the child. The child will also have learned skills in obtaining meaning from context. In contrast, if reading is just another chore, even a conscientious "good student" will read only as much as he has to. Only reading for meaning is fun. If the very first part of learning to read is easy and engaging, reading will be seen as rewarding. Bridge to Reading doesn't just teach reading, it also teaches that reading is fun.


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