Reading Game

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Thousands of packages promising to help teach kids to read and write, playing on parents fear or not doing enough their kid. Here is a new program that claims to bridge the gap but does it work?

And the man who invented it claims starting to learn at 4 is too late but with hundreds of programs and just as many promises, mums and dads have good reason to be confused. “Just no comparison - it's the best thing I've ever done for my kid” says one parent.

“Think this is an exceptional program that allows children to work at their own pace” says another.

For a parent teaching their child how to read is probably the most important lesson they can ever give. But at what age should they be able to read and count to 100? “I think any child 2 1/2 to 3 can do this program.” Ted Bennet is the creator of Game Time for Kids, a computer-based literacy program that uses music to teach the alphabet and numbers.

“They learn the songs, they are sublimely there are absorbing the information, then they can play with games books audio CDs and they bring it to the conscience level. A very simple process which is achieved very very quickly.”

Game Time for Kids is a departure from the school curriculum of 'wholewords' learning. “Mine goes back to the way of phonetics based learning so by teaching them properly the phonetic way they are then able to master wholewords pronunciation so it's all part of the process” says Ted.

Nine preschool children - tested on their understanding of letters and numbers. “Well at this stage a few of them know a few letters either lower case or upper case in particular knew all 26 letters and some don't know any letters at all” say Ted.

They'll all spend half an hour a day for the next twelve weeks singing to pictures and colours.

“I believe there are a lot of children who start primary school without having any base at all of this type of learning and I believe they are disadvantaged” adds Ted.

It's a bold claim in a fiercely debated topic - early childhood learning is a very lucrative market.

Reading Game continued…

‘We have plans in train at present to have it scientifically tested we have two universities who are interested in doing those case studies for us [but currently] no” says Ted.

It may lack academic credibility but does it work, the kids are back after twelve weeks to find out.

The improvement is obvious. Tionie has made great progress. “I found that before we started the program Tionie could only write Tionie and could only recognise these letters... now she's counting to 100 with ease and she's able to read and write some letters and words. She's just really excelled” says Tionie’s mum.

Dean was shy.

“He's singing, he's laughing and he's learning at the same time and he doesn't even realise it and he's having a lot of fun and that to me is more important to me” says Dean’s mum.

And Leticia's now eager to learn. “Before the program started she was disinterested, once it started she liked the self direction like the opportunity to run at her own race - and likes to be independent” said Leticia’s mother.

“I don't think parents need a package, especially to two and three year olds but really you don't need a package at all.” Dr Leonie Arthur is Director of Early Childhood Australia. It's her view the $30 start up fee is not necessarily giving children a head start.

“If you are just looking at singing to learn to read I would really be questioning how much learning is going on there how much the child is understanding about what they're singing about whether or not they are able to transfer that learning to another context I would be questioning” says Leonie.

But it's hard to argue with the turnaround. Sure it won't work for everyone but for many it could just be the key for their children to master their ABC's.

For more information for Game Time for Kids visit: http://gt4k.com or phone (02) 4393 1000.

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