First Principles

  • There are only 44 sounds in the English language. Once these sounds have been learned and blended to form words then the task of learning to read is complete.

  • The best way to teach children to read lies in paying close attention to blending sounds. Consequently it is essential that children blend sounds from the very beginning of the course.

  • This is not a workbook, and so all written exercises should be completed in a separate exercise book. Filling in the gaps on the page is counter-productive. In each case, the whole word should be written out so that the principle of blending is further reenforced.

  • This reading course is consistent with the belief that it is the proper concern of education to discover and reveal integrating principles rather than present information arbitrarily. This course teaches children to read by reference to fixed rules and guidelines which can be applied to most of the language. Those well-documented and familiar English words which defy normal sound patterns are treated as exceptions which do not lie at the core of learning to read proficiently and independently.

  • Proven effective across a range of abilities and backgrounds for boys and girls, the course raised the average reading age of a class in one Civitas summer school by 1 year and 9 months in just 2 weeks

  • For the majority of children, learning to read will be their first experience of formal education. It is imperative that this first learning model demonstrate to the young pupil that knowledge is knowable by reference to integrating principles. This reading course enables pupils to learn how to read thousands of words without having to memorise the words themselves.

  • Each chapter in this book introduces a new sound. The letters which denote the sound should be learned as they appear in the course. It is not necessary in order to learn to read to memorise a particular fixed sequence of letters as set out in the alphabet.

  • At the beginning of the course it may be useful to place a ruler under each line of text, so that the student is encouraged to focus more effectively and to acquire the habit of reading from left to right.

  • One learns the alphabet by memorising the names of the letters in a specific order; one learns to read by decoding the sounds of the letters. When using this book, children must always refer to letters and letter-combinations by their sounds and not by the names of the letters.

  • Learning to read and write should be taught simultaneously from the very beginning. Children should be encouraged to write on lines from the start.