The Waterford Early Reading Program is a computer-based early literacy curriculum for children from ages four to seven. The program utilizes interactive research-based strategies and techniques to accelerate learning so that children will be school-ready by the end of pre-kindergarten, reading ready by the end of kindergarten, a competent beginning reader by the end of first grade, and a fluent and expressive reader by the end of second grade.
The program consists of three levels, for emergent, beginning and fluent readers.
The Level 1 program is a year-long sequenced curriculum on the basic skills of reading readiness. Children engage in activities, animations and play and practice opportunities as they experience oral and written language through children’s songs and literature from around the world. Level 1 focuses on enabling children to master the key emergent reading skills and concepts of automatic letter recognition, print and other concepts, phonological awareness, and vocabulary expansion.
Level 2 enables children to progress from emergent to beginning reading. Children solidify phonemic awareness, learn to blend letter sounds to make words, decode pattern words, and recognize sight words. Songs are used to teach useful principles of grammar, spelling and pronunciation. Children read and listen to a variety of literature and other texts and practice comprehension strategies that are taught explicitly. Children read aloud and record their reading for their Literacy Mentors to listen to. In Level 2, children are accelerated through lessons they have already mastered or, if they need additional support, they receive more detailed instructions with a lot of repetition and reinforcement.
In Level 3, children continue to develop grammar and usage skills and learn to analyze word structure and patterns. Students focus on the content and meaning of text and learn to utilize comprehension strategies. Level 3 extends student reading to other content areas as students learn to read with expression and fluency through frequent oral readings. In Level 3, children learn the strategies that authors employ to be successful and apply those strategies to their own writing.
All three levels of the program address students’ needs by adapting to each child’s learning level and pace. Children are encouraged to sing along with songs, to repeat letters, and to sound out words. Students may print out the product of their work and can take home rhyming and alliterative books they have created, lists of new vocabulary words, certificates of achievement, and letter puzzles.