Monday, December 19, 2011

eReadingPro and Dyslexia

I wanted to share with you some of what I've been doing with eReadingPro in Panama, Central America. In September, I was approached by a school director to assess and work with a child who was struggling immensely with reading and writing. After spending some time assessing her, I concluded that she has severe Dyslexia. I will call the student Jane.

Jane is 8 years old and when I started working with her she was essentially not reading or writing at all. When asked to spell her first and last name, she spelled her first name (almost) but was unable to spell her last name at all. So we began there.

I started by making large flashcards, 8 1/2" x 11" with her first name and last name, along with her family members' names. I flashed them to her three times a day for a few days in a row, saying each word as I showed her the flashcard. She mastered them VERY quickly. Then I cut out individual letters that made up her first and last name. I showed her how to match them up underneath her name flashcards, and then had her try. The next day I had her try them without referencing the flashcards. She struggled a bit in the beginning, but eventually mastered them to the point where she could spell the names aloud without any textile material to assist.

The next step was to introduce the phonetic components for her names. I wrote out the phonemes and had her match these underneath the appropriate flashcards. We moved some of the phonetic components around and created new names - which she found quite humorous!

The next step was to begin with the vocabulary from eReadingPro. Rather than following the schedule as it is in the program, we 'skipped' every other day, thus moving through the program at twice the speed. She has thrived on it! She learned each word very quickly, occasionally 'guessing' incorrectly at words which looked similar to each other. We have now completed the first third of the program, and will begin the next third in January when school reconvenes.

In addition to using the reading program with her, there are some other activities that I've integrated which really helped her:

1. I wrote the names of the week on flashcards. Weekly I have her put these in order on the floor, saying each one aloud, and using the song "Days of the Week" to assist her. The song reinforces things for her every, single time we do it. We look for and discuss similarities in the words, and discuss the sounds that are different as well as the letters.

2. I wrote the names of the months on flashcards and did similar exercises as above with these words. We discuss what events take place in each month such as weather, special holidays, etc. which will help her to remember the months.

3. We have added in a workbook that focuses solely on phonics and sounds. Initially she would reverse the small ones, such as 'up' she would identify as 'pu', 'at' as 'ta', etc. She is improving with practice, although she finds these exercises very difficult and does not enjoy them as a result.

4. I have cut out letters and we 'build' small words by replacing one letter. For example, I will lay out the letters 'p' _ 't', and place the different vowels in the middle, saying the new words aloud with her.

5. Her teacher printed off sheets for learning to print letters, which show the arrows where to start, and the correct formation for each one (starting at the top, etc.). When a child understands how letters are to be formed, it helps to build a better foundation for writing and spelling These worksheets can be found here: You can choose the vocabulary words that your child is working on for school, and writing them out will help them to remember how to spell them.

6. At the end of our sessions, I often let Jane use my iPad and 'play' eReadingToGo! She learns each word quickly and loves to look at the colorful pictures.

The idea of starting off with the whole words first was simply to train her brain that the words represent something. After she started identifying the words with the images of the 'things' they represented, it was easier for her to recall the words. After this step we can then show the child how to break down the word into letters and sounds, and then put it back together again.

I am thrilled with Jane's progress, as are her teachers and parents! Jane has begun to write words spontaneously in class, and is using her word attack skills to steadily increase her reading vocabulary. Bravo!

These techniques can be used with ANY child learning to read, and I guarantee you that they will make a difference.

Friday, May 20, 2011

eReadingPro Article in SEN Magazine

SEN magazine in the UK recently published an article that I, Denise MacDonald - Founder of eReadingPro, wrote called One Word at a Time. The article talks about why a 'hands-on, whole-word approach' to reading is the most effective way to teach children with Down syndrome. I hope that you enjoy reading it!

This magazine is a bimonthly magazine that features articles on topics such as:
  • all major conditions (such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, cerebral palsy and Down syndrome)
  • mental health
  • literacy and numeracy
  • visual and hearing impairments
  • behaviour
  • teaching children with special educational needs
  • general issues of education, care and government legislation
  • manual handling
  • special schools and mainstream schools.
SEN Magazine is delivered to ALL Special Needs schools in the UK - isn't that amazing? You can read numerous articles via the website at:

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The eReadingToGo! app OR the eReadingPro CD?

This is just a short post to clarify a question that has come in a few times since we released our new iPhone/iPad app eReadingToGo!

Parents are wondering which one they should 'start' using with their child first: the eReadingPro 14-month program OR the eReadingToGo! app. The answer is this:

The eReadingPro CD contains our full 14-month program. This program includes 128 single words that progresses the child from single words to couplets, phrases and finally sentences. The flashcards are meant to be printed off (or shown on the computer if you really want to) and shown to your child three times a day. There is a schedule that is included that shows the parent/educator exactly which cards to show when, every day during that 14-month period. It is very systematic and repetitive, guaranteeing success.

The eReadingToGo! iPhone/iPad app is meant to be used as an 'educational tool'. Kids love using iPhones and iPads as they are new and exciting technology. They are incredibly intuitive with them and love to press buttons, try things and look at what the colorful screen has to offer. There is typically no schedule attached to using an iPad. Kids often use them while they're in a vehicle to keep themselves occupied, or on their beds relaxing. When we created eReadingToGo!, we intended it to be something that would be fun, engaging and interactive, hoping it would be one that a child would pick up and go to as a 'fun' choice. The app guides the child through the sentence-building process, one word at a time, then joining them to the other words within the sentence that they have learned. They go through the 'books' one sentence at a time until they complete each book. They can say the words aloud, play interactive games and enjoy the process of learning at their own pace and interest level.

In conclusion, the app is not meant to replace the full program, but rather to assist with it. It can also be used as an add-on after the child has completed the full 14-month program as a way to introduce new vocabulary.

We thoroughly hope that your child enjoys using our app and that you also enjoy using the eReadingPro 14-month program with your child!

Friday, April 22, 2011


As mentioned in a previous blog, many articles have been written about how beneficial iPads and iPods can be for children - particularly children with special needs. Using an iPad (or something similar) is a stress-free, fun way for a child to learn - and all children tend to be quite intuitive with them - sometimes even more so than their parents! These amazing little gadgets are cheaper than a computer, portable, and most apps can be purchased on iTunes for under $10.

As you may know, eReadingPro is a 'system' for teaching reading that is extremely helpful in teaching children with Down syndrome, Autism, Dyslexia and all other visual learners. In keeping with the trend towards technology, we have created an iPad/iPhone/iPod program called eReadingToGo!

eReadingToGo! follows a similar system as eReadingPro, in that it takes a child from reading single words, then into couplets, phrases and sentences. To my knowledge, it is (as well as our full reading program) is the ONLY app that uses such a system to help a child progress from just learning single words. After all - it is important for children to learn how to use words - not just the words themselves. One of the popular comments I often hear from parents is "my child has a vocabulary of about 75 words, but they just can't seem to use them in a phrase or sentence - they just have single-word utterances". Our system helps a child to overcome that, as it teaches them how words are put with other words in a meaningful way.

eReadingToGo! offers a free sentence so that you can get an idea of how our app works. Then, within the 'free' app, you will see the book options. You can purchase one complete book for $1.99, which contains 5 sentences and 5 matching images. Or, the best deal is to purchase all 5 books for only $7.99. That means 25 sentences with 25 matching images that are clear, colorful and engaging. These books will provide hours of fun and learning for your child.

If you're like me, you don't want your child playing just mindless games on their gadgets all the time. As one of our customers has already said: "With three young children it's always hard to maintain interest while at the same time educate. This app is fun, engaging, and develops reading skills in natural and intuitive way. I would definitely recommend it!".

The app is ideal for those parents who have already been using eReadingPro to teach their child to read, as it has a whole new set of vocabulary. Keep in mind also, that eReadingPro was originally designed for children with Down syndrome - so it is an excellent tool for individuals with special needs. That being said though, this app was intended for use by ALL children learning to read.

If you would like to read more about eReadingToGo!, please visit the website at

CLICK HERE to download eReadingToGo! from iTunes and try it with your child!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Word Rings

I just had a question from a parent about how to help their typical child with reading, in a way that will help build his vocabulary AND help with spelling.

A method I used with my own daughter when she was in Grade 1, was to create a word ring. Using poster board, cut cards approximately 2" x 6". Then punch a hole at one end of each, write a word on each card using a chisel-tip marker and ring them together with a metal ring.

Start with about 10 words that they are struggling with, or simply words that represent things they are familiar with. This could be things around the house, school things - anything really. Go through the group of words EVERY evening before bed. Once they have clearly mastered a word (say it aloud with no hesitation), remove it from the ring and replace it with a new word. You can have up to 15 words if you like - just don't have so many that it overwhelms them each time.

This simple idea will help to increase your child's vocabulary, and they will learn the spelling of the word as they learn the word.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Technology To Go

More and more frequently, I have been receiving calls, emails and requests at workshops as to whether we have thought about creating an iPad/iPhone/iPod app.

It is something I have pondered over the past year, as technology persists in being an important part of our lives. One parent in particular pointed out that their young son with Down syndrome, who is 4 years old, picked up a family member's iPad and was extremely intuitive with learning how to use it. One woman, who has a 9-year old son with Autism said he began spending about thirty minutes at a time using the iPad to learn spelling, math, puzzles, etc. - voluntarily! Studies have already begun to examine the effectiveness of the iPad/iPod as learning tools for children with autism and other special needs.

Using an iPad (or something similar) is a stress-free, fun way for a child to learn. They are cheaper than a computer, portable, If you're interested, this is a great article on the benefits of the iPad for children with Autism, as well as some app recommendations. These amazing gadgets are less expensive than a full-blown computer, very portable, most applications are under $10 - and many are even FREE to try. The positive stories of how effective they are seem to be abundant.

So... after spending the time to understand the benefits of using an iPad for educational purposes, it became clearer and clearer that it is time to step up and create a version of our eReadingPro system for the iPad/iPhone/iPod. An iPad is now on my Christmas list, and eReading To Go is on it's way! Our hope is to have it on the market early 2011!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

eReadingPro and Specs4Us in New Zealand

eReadingPro toured New Zealand in September (2010), and introduced our amazing reading program to parents and educators throughout the country. Wow! What a great trip it was! Maria Dellapina from Specs4Us came with me, and together we shared our special products for individuals of all ages with Down syndrome and other special needs.

The tour was planned and organized by the President of the New Zealand Down Syndrome Association, Neville Strong, as well as the National Coordinator, Zandra Vaccarino, and began with presentations at their National Forum in Auckland. Leaders from parent groups across the country were brought to Auckland to learn about various ideas and tools they could take back to their groups. The forum was extremely well-organized, and we met some wonderful people! Neville was a gracious host who was helpful beyond words!

After the National Forum, full workshops were presented in Auckland, Tauranga, Paikakariki and Christchurch. Great attendance at each workshops brought parents, educators and professionals to see just how eReadingPro works, and how easy to use it really is. We were welcomed with open arms by everyone we met. New Zealand and its people are beautiful and amazing, and if you haven't been there yet, you really should visit!

As a result of the amazing response we are having with our program internationally, we have now added an instant 'Downloadable' version to our range of formats available. This will allow individuals all around the world to have eReadingPro at their fingertips in only moments after visiting our website! Technology truly is amazing! This new downloadable version not only provides you with the complete Instructional Guide, all the vocabulary to present to your child, 14-month Presentation Schedules, AND over 600 printable flashcards that you can either print, or show your child right from the computer. The download also provides you with our 'Step-By-Step' video of how to set up and use the program.

We are always interested in hearing feedback and comments about how we can get more and more children reading - after all, it's just a matter of teaching them in a way that works best for them! Keep spreading the word about how well eReadingPro works! Invite us to come and speak to your parent group, school, or at your conference - you will be amazed!