1. Early reading skills are most effectively taught when integrated with the other language arts.
Reading instruction works best when it keeps children constantly engaged in writing, spelling, listening, and speaking. This is the integrated approach used in Happily Ever After. Children listen to stories and discuss them. Children see the teacher write and write themselves by dictating ideas to the teacher. Children begin to understand that written words stand for spoken thoughts and that communication is the goal of all the language arts.
2. Explicit instruction supports children at every step.
A good readiness program assumes nothing. Instead, it carefully breaks down and explains tasks. For example, children aren’t just asked to draw a line. First they learn what a dot and a line are. Then, on pages that show a dot at the left of a line, they learn to put a crayon on the dot and trace the line from left to right. After this, they draw a line independently. Finally, only after learning through concrete activity the meaning of under are children asked to draw a line under something and introduced to the word underline. This careful, explicit, systematic approach makes all children successful, task by task, and gives them the strongest possible foundation for learning to read.
3. A multimodal approach engages all children.
Children, like all of us, learn through visual, auditory, and kinesthetic modalities. Strengthening children’s ability to learn in all the modalities prepares them for reading (which involves mainly the visual modality), spelling (auditory), and writing (kinesthetic). Multimodal practice helps children master skills and concepts regardless of their strengths and weaknesses or preferred learning style. Throughout Happily Ever After, children learn new skills, concepts, and vocabulary by seeing and hearing examples, as well as by participating in physical activities that reinforce their meaning.
4. Motivation is key to children’s success.
Happily Ever After includes beautifully illustrated stories; lively discussions; and a great variety of hands-on activities, group games, and art projects—all of which delight children. Throughout the program, clear instruction builds success step by step, giving children confidence as they develop the skills they need to learn to read.