I’ve been where you are. When my son Jonathan was 5, I was busy with PT, OT, ST, and a 3-year-old daughter with severe asthma. The idea of me teaching reading to my 5-year-old with Down syndrome was crazy.

But an angel in the form of a very knowledgeable librarian walked into my life, and teaching Jonathan to read became exciting and a joy. But what about the time involvement? Here’s my “Reading Prescription” to the rescue! In my workshops, I preach “5 minutes twice a day.” End of prescription.

Jonathan, 5, reads his FIRST homemade book to Grandma

That’s where we start. Early success breeds confidence which breeds excitement and enthusiasm. You’re off to the races, and the time spent teaching gradually expands out of interest. Effortlessly, organically.

And keep in mind your end goal: Work Yourself Out of a Job. Once your child/teen learns to read, you’re done. S/he’s launched. You’ll never teach your child to read again.

say what? how do i do that?

It wasn’t easy for me in 1990, so going forward, I wanted to make it easy for other parents.

In 1990 when I began teaching Jonathan, there were no materials designed especially for our kids and their learning strengths and weaknesses.  No one had yet written a book on teaching reading to kids with DS. Pat Oelwein’s seminal book was years away from being published. But Glenn Doman had paved the way with his book, “How to Teach Your Baby to Read,” and I had an amazing teacher in the librarian who’d trained for years at Doman’s institute (IAHP).

Being an author, graphic designer, and illustrator helped, so I plunged in to creating all of Jonathan’s books and materials myself. By age 8, he was an independent and enthusiastic reader. His world changed, and so did mine.

parents don’t have the time

But few moms or dads can do such time-intensive work as creating scores of books. I didn’t want other parents to be in the position I had been, so I eventually developed and published a reading program designed for our kids with DS, DS/ASD, and other developmental delays. Parents need help. Educators need help. University degrees in Special Education don’t yet have a mandatory course on “How children with Down syndrome learn most easily,” though of course we all hope that will happen one day.

So I needed to write a short, accessible, reader-friendly book encapsulating all I had learned from experience, research, and years of tutoring reading for children with DS. That came into being a couple of years ago when Woodbine House published my book, “Whole Child Reading.” What you need to know for teaching reading in the most natural, organic way for our learners is in there, and so I now include that book with all my Reading Bundles.

Take the easy road

What you need to create that miracle of reading is in a bundle; it’s in a box. You don’t have to problem solve: How can I engage my child without boring or discouraging him? How can I teach her the required word list painlessly and quickly? How can I cover all the bases? Which phonics approach do I use? How can I manage this in my family’s life?

I have worked for years to make it easy for you so you don’t have to do what I did. May it be increasingly easy for you, and may you love the Journey!



P.S. Residual effect for your other children…since my 3-year old daughter was always in the room while I taught Jonathan to read, osmosis happened: without my teaching her, she entered first grade reading. Midway through the year, she was reading 5th grade material and bored out of her gourd. But that’s another story…We should all have such happy problems!


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