Welcome back to Best Case Parenting. Today I am going to write a review for the “4 Weeks to Read” Program. Why should you care what I think? I have been an early childhood teacher for over a decade and teach young children to read on a daily basis. This gives me some insight into the best ways to teach reading, as well as what struggles parents often have in this area.
Regarding the name, I am not sure if I should call it 4weekstoread or 4 Weeks to Read? I went with the latter option, I hope you understand 🙂
What is 4 Weeks to Read?
The 4 Weeks to Read program is a physical reading program (meaning they actually post things to you) made by Learning Dynamics. This is a company started by Cheryl Lant, who owned a small chain of preschools and then branched into making educational programs for young children.
4 Weeks to Read make a lot of bold claims on their website. This includes saying that they have a success rate of over 98% and that they will have your child reading in 4 weeks (hence the name).
When you buy this program, you will be sent 53 full-color reading books, music (to help teach phonics), workbooks, flashcards and a lesson manual.
You basically get everything that you need as a parent to start teaching your child to read.
4 Weeks to Read also go to great lengths to say that their reading program is educationally based and backed by experts. To me, this system bases itself mostly on the synthetic phonic approach, an approach that I use and agree with its effectiveness fully.
How Much is 4 Weeks to Read?
The basic price of this program at the time of writing is $69.99, with the optional addon of $17.99 for ‘additional student workbooks’. Although they don’t make it clear what these extra works are and what they are for. Are they extra copies of workbooks already in the program or are these new ones that you wouldn’t get otherwise?
As this is a physical product, this means they need to ship it to you. If you live in the United States of America, this is free.
What Do I like about 4 Weeks to Read?
1. Easy for Parents
This is a program that is specifically designed for parents and is step by step. This means that even if you have no idea how to teach reading, you can just follow the lessons in the lesson manual.
This is crucial for parents, as many can get easily confused around the best order needed to teach phonics and reading well.
For example, I always see parents teaching their children only the letter names (like in the ABC song), without realising that the letter’s phonic sound is actually far more important! With a program like this, you can bypass those kind of problems!
2. Physical Product
OK, if you live outside of America, it may be annoying to have to pay and wait for additional resources. But for most, it is nice to have something physical to work through with your child. Thesedays, so much is digital that it is a welcome surprise to be sent something in the mail.
3. Educational Approach
Although far from perfect as a whole system, I do agree that the synthetic phonic approach to learning reading is a great way for most young children to learn reading.
What Do I NOT like about 4 Weeks to Read?
1. The Name!!
As a teacher myself, I often have to fight a tide against a lot of anxious parents that think they need to race to teach their child to read. Whereas, the truth for most children is they have plenty of time to do this and shouldn’t worry if their child doesn’t pick reading up straight away.
Every child is different and learns in different ways, some are visual learners whereas others may be auditory (through hearing). There is no program that can fit all learning styles, and therefore some children may pick this up faster or slower than others.
Think about it as adults, some of us find it easy to pick up new languages whilst others can be fluent in a matter of months. It is the same for children and reading.
I worry that with a name like “4 Weeks to Read’ they are causing parents to worry that their child is behind if they don’t pick this up quickly, who will then likely put pressure on their children to ‘catch up’. This is the exact opposite of the mentality I want to see from parents teaching their children reading.
This Learning Dynamics reading program is playing off the fear a lot of parents have that their child is behind in reading. By adding a time frame to the name they are giving parents the quick fix they think they need. I believe it will do more harm than good in the long run, and is using marketing techniques that have no place in education (rant over!)
For some reason, people love giving young children worksheets and workbooks. In reality, for most children, these will not be the best way to learn and could lead to frustration. Yes, some children take well to worksheets at this age, but most don’t in my experience.
A majority of children at this age would learn much better from hands-on and fun activities, something that would be a much more valuable learning experience for everyone involved.
When you put something on paper (such as a worksheet), a lot of adults don’t appreciate this can make the concepts you want a child to learn more abstract and confusing than actually interacting with real objects in a hands on game (for example) instead.
3. Lesson Makeup
Upon reviewing the lesson makeup the 4 Weeks to Read program uses, I am frankly not impressed. They say that each lesson should take 15 minutes, which is a good thing as young children learn phonics/reading best in short and sharp sessions.
However, this includes workbook activities that would probably take up at least half of that time realistically for most children.
Contrary to popular belief, coloring objects that begin with a phonic sound is not a good use of time for young children. I would cut the workbook out of these lessons and replace with a simple and fun game that would help the child learn the phonic sound in a much smoother way.
The only redeeming feature of the lesson plans are the songs, that are actually well made and would be a fun way for a child to remember phonic sounds.
As well as workbooks, I think a lot of reading programs almost feal obliged to offer readers for the children to read as they are learning. But when they are low quality, like the ones in this program, you might as well not bother.
Some of the reading books are painfully boring, with a lot not having much of a story line or anything to grab a child’s interest. I always talk about the importance of building a child’s love of reading alongside teaching phonics, but readers like these won’t do anything to help here!
Also, some of the illustrations are amateurish at best. I might even have nightmares about some of the characters in there! I know they want to have a complete system for parents, but they really should have focused on things they can deliver to a high quality.
Would I Recommend the 4 Weeks to Read Program?
I have to say that I had high hopes for this reading program when I first saw it, but to be honest in the end I am left somewhat disappointed.
Will it work for some parents? of course it will. Is it the best way to teach your child reading? Definitely not!
They need to cut the workbook and the readers and focus more on fun activities that parents can do with their children to help them learn phonics in a more hands on and active way. They say this program is for 3-6 year-olds, but this age group shouldn’t be sat at a table doing workbooks in my humble opinion!
I know that if you are a parent desperate to help your child read, this 4 Weeks to Read program seems like the perfect ‘silver bullet’ to quickly make your problem go away. Unfortunately, in reality, it is far from the truth. It looks like the perfect package, but it ends up being more marketing hype than quality reading product!
What Would I Recommend Instead?
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will know I love the Children Learning Reading reading program. Although this program doesn’t have the marketing sheen of the one reviewed today, it makes up for it by being a much more hands on and fun way for a young child to learn to read.
Add to that the fact that the Children Learning Reading program is around half the price of this one, and I would recommend it every day of the week over 4 Weeks to Read.
There is no perfect reading system on the market for parents, don’t get me wrong, but the Children Learning Reading one is the best I have come across so far! If you are a parent that wants to help your child read but doesn’t know how, this would be the best option right now.
Click HERE to go over to their official website and find out more for yourself.
I hope you enjoyed reading my review, and good luck with helping your child to read. And remember….education is not a competition! Every child is different! Don’t worry if your child doesn’t pick up reading in 4 weeks, just give them the time and space (and more importantly encouragement) to see it through 🙂 Trust me, most children will get there in their own time!
My 4 Weeks to Read Final Rating
- Easy to follow for parents
- Physical product
- Follows synthetic phonic approach
- Bad name that will put pressure on all involved!
- Not hands on enough for young children
- Poorly made lessons
- Low quality Readers
Of course, this is just my opinion, if you have any experience with this product please let us know how you found it in the comments section below.