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"What's Normal"

0- 3 years



Recognizes specific books by cover

Pretends to read books

Looks at a picture in a book and realizes it represents a real object

Produces letter-like forms and scribbles

3- 4 years



Knows that it is the print that is read in stories

Pays attention to repeating sounds

Shows an interest in reading

Can identify 10 alphabet letters

5 years

Primary in N - Kindergarten USA

Begins to track print when listening to a familiar story
Recognizes and can name all letters
Understands that letters in a written word represent sounds
Makes predictions based on illustrations

6 years

First Grade USA


Uses the relationship between letters and sounds to sound out unknown words
Has a reading vocabulary of 300-500 words
Self-corrects when an identified word does not fit with cues provided by its letters or context
Predicts and justifies what will happen next in stories

7 years

Second Grade USA


Can read irregularly spelled words and such spelling patterns as common word endings and diphthongs (i.e. ph, th)

Reads voluntarily for interest and pleasure

Rereads sentences when meaning is not clear

Discusses similarities in events across stories

8 years

Third Grade USA


Reads longer books, such as those divided into chapters

(Thursday, March 19, 1998; A17). "learning to read, Year by Year" as appeared in The New York Times. These are excerpts from a report by the National Research Council of America) outlining literacy skills acquired by children from the first few months through to third grade. THIS MAY WELL BE THE NORM BUT BY NO MEANS SHOULD THIS BE CONSIDERED "NORMAL"

Many Reading Master children have completed this list 3 years earlier than this. You will find that when you have no expectations then kids find their own level. This level is considerably higher than what parents are being led to believe, (if they allow it to be).

By outlining some case studies in the book "Parents as First Teachers" we are trying to undo the harm that is created by this sort of reporting of NRC research and other such reporting that relies solely on information from the status quo. Children are performing at much higher levels than these all around the world and we believe it is actually damaging to lower parents expectations in this way. A Report of the New Zealand Literacy Task Force for instance states "The Literacy Experts Group's advice was that care needs to be taken not to set minimal competency levels. These have been abandoned by most states in the United States because they were found to have lowered standards." (Report of the Literary Task Force _ A report prepared for the New Zealand Minister of Education March 1999 p. 3) What follows are just two ReadingMaster case studies - selected because we know them intimately - from the many who volunteered information for the book "Parents as First Teachers".


Male - Learning Style - strongly visual:

From 4 months ***** was flashcarded different images. These images included famous artists (Monet, Van Gogh, Renoir, Toulouse Lautrec, Michelangelo, da Vinci), herbs, flowers, native birds, dogs, and different animal cards. From 18 months he was flashed whole word cards. The first words he learnt to read were all nouns - nose, eyes, hair, knee, toes and lips. The next words he enjoyed learning between 18 and 24 months were primarily proper nouns. There were 27 of these in all including Nana, Pop, Mum, Dad, *****, Sam, Gran, Grandad, and different pets names including Amber, Onyx and Paddington. His next words were ball, kitten, gorilla, juice, milk, Marmite, toast, baby, bees, cup, bird, dog, dish, bed, hat, and potty. These words were presented in keeping with the Glenn Doman methodology. They were all 2.5 inches high (6 cm) up until he reached 30 months and then reduced to one inch (2.5 cm). Between 23 and 24 months, ***** had a book written for him using 21 whole words that he could already recognize. This book was text only but was about the things that were important to *****. It read and he read instantly and unaided:" My Dad loves my Mum.

My Mum loves my Dad.

I love my Nana and Pop.

I love my Gran and Granddad.

Murray has two eyes and one nose.

I love Marmite and butter on my toast."

After ***** had learnt around 100 whole words, phonics were introduced.

Further flashcard learning continued on any subject that appealed to *****. He learnt the English and Greek alphabets, mathematical dot cards in sets of 1-10 and 10-20, Roman numerals, time - traditional face and digital. ***** was never very interested in learning to write so little time was spent teaching this.

Results: By 23 months: ***** could recognize and read 65 whole words. He could read these in isolation and he could read 21 of them in a book written for him using only these words.

At 2: ***** knew all the o'clocks on the traditional clock face, many different animal cards, could recognize ten pieces of art by Van Gogh, Monet, Renoir, Toulouse Lautrec, Michelangelo and da Vinci. He could recite the Greek alphabet and identify the individual letters, edible herbs, maps (He could locate America, NZ, Australia, Turkey, India England, China on a world map), counts 0-40, and 10-100, recognizes most numbers up to 100, different places in London, sea creatures, insects and knew about the Giant Panda in depth. Before three he also knew many breeds of dog and cat, and flowers.

At 2, he is on video identifying the first 20 chemical elements in the Periodic Table of Elements from symbols and pictures of atomic structures.

Soon after his 3rd birthday, he announced "Daddy's gone to work and will be home late. Why does he never leave a message that he's going to be home early?" after reading a message on his whiteboard that his Dad had left him (in his Dad's messy handwriting!).

At 4, he spontaneously taught his nearly 2-year-old sister 10 different breeds of cat. At 5, ***** was assessed at school of having a reading age of between 8 and 9 years. He was already reading chapter books.

Long term results: At age 11, ***** was tested on the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children III by an independent psychologist. He scored in the 95th percentile in all three scales - verbal, performance and full. His full IQ scale was assessed as being in the 121-131 range (superior). This puts him in the top 5%. On the Neale Analysis of Reading Ability 3rd ed. ***** scored at a 13 year + level on reading accuracy and comprehension, both above the test ceiling and within the top 1% of his peers. In class, his reading comprehension was at a 13-15 year level and reading vocabulary at a 13-14 year level. ***** enjoyed reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy (in 4 days) Wilbur Smith books and Harry Potter at this age. (Read The Goblet of Fire in one long day)*****'s spelling age was 14.6 years.


Female - Learning Style - Audial/Kinesthetic

**** was shown flashcards of whole words and different images from around 12-14 months of age. Whole words were always large and bold and were shown 2-3 times a day, generally one new word at a time. Images were grouped into sets of ten related images. These ten images were shown one at a time at a rate of approximately one per second. From around 18 months, she had access to the ReadingMaster FlashBooks which she really enjoyed.

From age 3, **** also had personalized books made up for her to read. They contained no more than 3-4 words per page and a picture. From 3 ½ **** was shown how to write. Being partly a kinesthetic learner she really enjoyed these sessions. We would try and fit in 5-10 minutes a day, 3-4 times a week.

Results **** read her first word, "Daddy" at 15 months old. She had only been shown this word 3x over that week. She was then shown "Mummy" and she said "Mama". She had been shown "Mummy" many times over the past 3-4 weeks. This was the first time that she'd been asked what they said and had revealed that what she was being shown was sinking in.

At 24 months, **** identified the different cat breeds at a cat show as learnt in her ReadingMaster Cats FlashBook. She also pointed out an Appaloosa and Palomino horse in the field from the Horses FlashBook and a Mastiff dog ornament in a shop at age 2.

By 2 ½ she had been singing the alphabet for months but still didn't recognize all the letters by sight. This is very characteristic of an audial learner.

At 36 months, **** could read 12 whole words - mummy, daddy, *****, ****, cat, dog, egg, pigeon, white, nana, pop, Onyx. **** could also read 3 personalized books, mainly from memory.

At 3 ½, **** liked writing. She could write the letters c, t, m and could write the words "cat", "dog", "****" , "God", and "Nana" by herself on the whiteboard

At 3 ½ she read her 1st two books by sounding out the words. The books were simple books with three large words per page and a picture that corresponds to the text. (Reading Book 1 & 2 by Montessori International _ "A big bus", "a red fox,".) She is on Video at this age sounding out every word given to her from a container of simple words, presented to her randomly from sets of ten in an order she had never seen before.

At 4 yrs 10 months, **** could write most of the alphabet letters and could write her name without help and read any simple reader book from school year one and two.

Long Term Results: At age 8 years, 3 months, **** was tested on the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children III by an independent psychologist. She scored in the 95th percentile on the verbal scale and in the 91st percentile on the performance scale. She was in the 95th percentile on the full scale. Her full IQ scale was assessed as being in the 118-128 range (superior). This puts her in the top 5%. On the Neale Analysis of Reading Ability 3rd ed. **** scored at a 13 year + level on reading accuracy and comprehension (above the test ceiling) . This is in the top 3% of her peers or the 97th percentile. **** scored at an 11 year level on the WIAT Spelling Test. Signs of giftedness from the psychologists report include:

  • An excellent memory,

  • Good vocabulary

  • Grasps abstract concepts well

  • Performs better with more challenging work

  • Reasons well

  • Is creative and imaginative

  • Is perceptive and insightful (seems wise)

  • Is good at art and music

  • An excellent information processor

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