Thursday, 21 February 2013

Tips for Using the Reading Reflex with Your Children

I discovered the Reading Reflex last year and I really rate is as a way of teaching children to read for the main reasons that it is simple, flexible and suits all children. To be more specific:
  • it simplifies the phonemes that a child is required to learn by eliminating the need to learn 'sp' or 'fr' for example and concentrating on the vowel sounds. Their reason for this is that consonant groups can be sounded out easily (apart from things like 'kn') and do not need to be learned by rote...... so vastly reducing the number of phonemes that need to be both taught and remembered. It groups similar sounds together which helps to make sense and build understanding of which sound pictures belong to which words (for example oe/ow/oa/o/ough) This makes the whole process seem much less daunting to both teacher and student in my opinion.
  • minimal resources are needed and they are cheap and fast to produce. I have looked at many 'teach your child to read' systems over the last few years and find that in general they require the printing out or purchasing of vast amounts of repetitive materials that are costly in terms of time and money. The Reading Reflex requires a sheaf of printer paper, a printer and an evening of cutting out.... a refreshing alternative to most schemes!
  • perfect for teaching a dyslexic child to read as it allows the majority of their 'working brain' to be used in processing the sounds and their applications. Read 'the dyslexic advantage' by Eide and Eide if you want to understand this more, and read this list from for a broken down 'what not to do' in teaching reading list that shows how this program is perfect for a dyslexic child!
  • the bite sized 'lessons' are interchangeable, and interactive without being overwhelming. They cover all they key skills needed for reading and spelling the phoneme groups without becoming overwhelming as there is no pressure put on. You can go at the child's own pace and recap or fly ahead according to their needs. My 'literacy lesson hating' daughter enjoys the RR at which I am amazed and grateful!
It can seem a confusing system at first which may put people off it but I jumped right in and forged ahead and found that it is actually simple and logical once you know how!!!! Here are my top tips for making the Reading Reflex as user friendly as possible:
1) Read the whole book first to understand what you are trying to achieve and how it works.

2)Write a crib sheet for yourself with the major points you want to remember without reading back through the book, such as the orders to do things in and where to start with different children etc.

3)Photocopy and cut out the pieces for the word building, the little mini books and the boxes with the sound groups in. Paper clip them to the corresponding pages in the book to make them easier to locate, use and refer to (the author recommends a system of envelopes but I like having them right there on the page. I also clip the mini book and the sound sorting exercise together with the mapping and sorting box.
4) Use a simple A4 lined book to write the exercises in and any pen or pencil that works for your child.... there are quite specific instructions about where and how to do the activities but important thing for my children is quiet and lack of distractions, which needs some creativity if you have more than one child! I have one child work from the front and one from the back so it is all together and easy to refer back to.

5) Use a record sheet to keep track of where you are. At first I jotted down the dates and used symbols for where we were and how it went but it looked like this:
It quickly became unmanageable as you can imagine, so I typed out a record sheet for the advanced code which both girls were on by then and this is what it looks like:
I want to make it available as a PDF but need to work out how to do it first so for now if you would like a copy, please e-mail me at and I will send you one!

6) Don't be afraid to move on and try the next section if you seem to be wallowing around and going nowhere - you can come back and cover a little of the 'sticking point' section each time you do it until it clicks if you want to!

7) Cross out the words in each box that don't match your dialect or accent, for example I crossed out 'coal' from the 'oe' sound box as we don't pronounce it 'coel' and it would confuse my children.

8) Keep plodding on, little and often, my children will happily do about 20 minutes, and we do it three to four times a week. I shorten or lengthen each lesson/activity to suit their receptivity at the time!

9) Don't be tempted to walk away and leave them to it whilst you do something else - you need to be there to correct as they go, and keep them on task so that the sessions remain short and to the point. You can also observe how easily they do the exercises and whether to recap another day or move on to fresh material. I also note down if my youngest child needs to work on a particular letter formation; my oldest writes using cursive as she found that easier to learn and we learned each carefully together, my youngest has learned to write in a much more organic way so forms quite a few letters incorrectly!

It was hard to get into but I found that after a week or so we were in a groove and it was easy to use and effective as the children began to use some of the strategies in their reading straight away without being prompted. Plus anything that they enjoy doing is a bonus in my eyes!! I hope this was useful for someone!


  1. Interesting to see a perspective on this book. I know a few others who have used it and I was tempted to try it at one time. I'm not sure I agree with everything in the 'what not to do' list by the dyslexia org as dyslexia - my experience is that every dyslexic child is different and sometimes you just have to try different things until you find what works for your child :)

    1. I agree that not all of the list is applicable to every child but much of it fitted with what I was reading about dyslexia at the time and the generally accepted broken down way of teaching reading with many sounds, learning sight words, learning spelling rules etc wasn't fitting with my dyslexic daughter and it was a refreshing revelation to me to realise that a 'whole picture' approach was possible..... perhaps i should have suggested that people pick and choose ideas from the list!! Thanks, Jen x

  2. Great post. I've been using Reading Reflex with some of our students for the past year. I will be emailing you for a copy of that PDF. :)