With her permission, we share this story from customer, Gini Coover, who found the courage to withdraw her struggling son from public schooling for only 10 weeks in order to teach him to read. The progress was remarkable and life-changing.

Discovering Intensive Phonics with My Son by Gini Coover

When my son was in the third grade he was unable to read. He could not do the schoolwork required and he became increasingly hostile and unhappy at school. The school’s director told me that my son had a learning disability and that they were trying to get a grant for a tutor to help him. The money would be available next September.

My sister was home schooling her two boys, both younger than my son. The oldest was two years younger and was reading better than my son. She showed me the program she was using, Discover Intensive Phonics Yourself, and I decided to buy a copy and try to help my son learn to read. This was not an easy decision for me. I had been trained as a high school biology and general science teacher, but my reading and spelling skills were not as strong.

I showed the director a copy of the program and told her that I planned to take him out of school and teach him to read. She offered to test him first to determine his reading level and suggested that she test him again after I finished the program. Her first test indicated that he was still reading at early first grade level.

I removed him from school for ten weeks. Using Intensive Phonics, we worked together 3 to 4 hours a day, divided into 2 or 3 sessions of 1 to 1½ hours each. At first he was reluctant and frequently expressed pessimism about learning to read. As the days passed he became less reluctant and his attention span for the work lengthened.

Given my busy life, I was only able to read one or two chapters ahead of the section I was teaching. But the skills progressed in such a logical sequence, I was able to understand and correctly teach each new set of skills with confidence.

By the end of the ten-week period my son had mastered the basic Intensive Phonics program including the 42 sounds of the alphabet, the 5 phonetic skills, and the 2-step decoding system for pronouncing multi-syllable words. I then asked him to go to the shelf, select a book, and read to me.

He removed volume D of an adult encyclopedia, opened it to Dinosaurs, a topic in which he was very interested, and read to me with confidence. When he found words he did not know, words like Mesozoic Era and paleontology, he read them correctly and asked me what they meant. I explained each new word and he continued reading with increased enthusiasm. He was reading an adult encyclopedia with ease.

He returned to school with renewed confidence, able to do his work. The director tested him again to determine his current reading level. She began at early first grade level, where he had struggled before, and continued testing his reading, word attack skills, and comprehension into the 5th grade level. She reported to me that he had not made one mistake throughout the testing procedure until the 5th grade level. He began to make a few mistakes, mostly word comprehension. I asked her why she stopped at the 5th grade level. She answered that it had been several hours and he was getting tired, besides it was obvious that he was reading well above the 3rd grade level, which was all that was required.

The director was so impressed with his leap in reading ability, she scheduled a meeting with the teachers and asked me to explain the basics of the program and answer questions they might have.

Throughout the 10 weeks of teaching, I noticed that I was learning phonetic and word decoding skills that I had never acquired. As a result, my own ability to spell has improved considerably.