To insure that your student has the reading ability of a superior academic achiever...

...a parent's goal must be: to get their beginning reader reading for enjoyment in the simplest, most direct manner possible. By reading for pleasure the student will then improve his reading comprehension and spelling potential.

Use the most efficient method available. Most American families are on a crash course with the television set. Children must learn to read for enjoyment as soon as possible and quickly learn to value the literary treasures of our culture. Then they will find many worthwhile alternatives to contemporary, electronic "entertainment."

Learning disability?  The difference between a child being labeled a slower learner or labeled dyslexic, ADD, minimally autistic, or similar professionally sounding tags might simple be the difference resulting from whether that child was initially taught by a very efficient reading teaching method or by a more inefficient method.  Probably half of our first grade students will learn to read (eventually) using any method and taught by any teacher.  But others  will find initial reading instruction a formidable barrier they must overcome before they can enjoy all the other aspects of their intelligence.  For them the gentle, systematic, home-taught TATRAS method is be the answer.         

Same program, for slow and quick students?  TATRAS provides specific unique guidelines for allowing the student to set the pace of instruction and for progress to be documented.  For some students that progress will be extremely slow but using the TATRAS method he will not experience failure and will demonstrate progress.  The TATRAS Reading Cycle can be executed in an extremely slow manner when required or can be greatly accelerated by the parent based on the student's response.

When to start. Start when your child knows the names of most of the letters of the alphabet, wants to learn more and mom and dad have the patience and restraint to let the child set the pace, be it quick or very slow.

Phonograms. Phonograms are letters or letter combinations that represent a specific sound or sounds (such as th, sh, t, oy, e or b) and that are part of set of letters and that best explain the decoding and spelling of English words. TATRAS lists 68 phonograms that are basic to teaching reading and spelling. The Penny Primer teaches eight of these phonograms and 43 words.

The Phonics Facts. Knowing the sound that each of these phonograms makes, in order of their frequency of occurrence, is the most important aspect of phonics facts.

The Phonics Habit. The Phonics Habit is being able to automatically go from left to right saying the sounds of each phonogram encountered in a word and then recognizing the word.  Students can best do this when using a phonics system that allows as many words as possible to be classified as regular and when they can instantly say the sounds represented by the letters they encounter.

Irregular Words. Words that are not consistent with the phonics system being used are called irregular words. Less than 3% of the Most Often Occurring (MOO) words in English are irregular by the Saltmine and Hifwip Phonics system. These are listed in the manual. No other reading method has ever published such a list! By some inefficient phonics methods almost half of the words in our language could be classified as irregular.

Sight Words. Sight words are those words that we instantly recognize without the need to analyze the phonic components of the word. Mature readers see most words as sight words. Sight words are acquired, one expert said, by recognizing a word 38 times. However, the goal of primary reading instruction is not to directly teach word memorization but to teach the students how to decode words. They should practice their decoding skills on the 300 MOO words. These words probably account for half the words in adult-level literature. Then, in the process of reading for enjoyment, they will decode words and develop more and more words as sight words. Most importantly, they will sharpen his decoding skills (the phonics habit) to a fine edge and few words will resist their decoding efforts.

Do all children learn to read differently. Yes. They will all perhaps absorb knowledge and skills differently. But what knowledge they have to learn and what skills they all have to acquire to be good readers and spellers can be very clearly stated. And that is done in the TATRAS DVD and the Great Saltmine & Hifwip Direct Phonics Reading Program manual.

Phonemic Awareness. "Phonemic Awareness" is the latest buzz term in the education community. TATRAS feels research validating this concept are weak.  It seems to be the renaming and upgrading of the old and respected "auditory discrimination" to a position of greater importance than phonics. "Phonemic awareness" may be of value when used in conjunction with weak or poorly designed phonics programs. Most students learning to read with the Saltmine & Hifwip program do not need specific "Phonemic Awareness" training. The TATRAS "phonics habit" is, in fact, the "blending"  outlined in most descriptions of "phonemic awareness" activities.

Teaching Disabled. Phonics reading experts believe that less than 1% of our children have neurological problems that cause reading disabilities. The high percentage of problem readers in our schools are caused by damaging reading-teaching techniques such as whole word memorization.   This is done by the hesitant teaching of inadequate phonics and teaching whole word memorization (teaching sight words before appropriate phonics are known).  Damage can also be done by teach-your-baby-to-read type programs which frequently use whole word memorization.  These program then make it more difficult to later teach the child effective phonics.

Comprehension. Children start the 1st grade with a vocabulary of from 4,000 to 20,000 words. Comprehension of material read in elementary school is no problem for most children if they can decode the words easily. To develop comprehension for later grades, "Start 'em reading and keep 'em reading." (Edward Fry) Remember, for beginning readers, comprehension is a function of language, not reading. Effective phonics skills are the single most important reading comprehension skill a child can learn.

 ©1992, 1994, 2001 TATRAS®