Although many teachers use the Stevenson Reading Program simply because it is an effective and enjoyable way for beginning students to learn, many others have come to the program because their students simply could not learn to read by other methods. We are happy to take on students with tough problems, and the Stevenson teacher’s manuals carefully outline strategies to tackle specific issues. However, any manual would have to be 10,000 pages long to cover every issue that may arise.
So sometimes you need to reach out for a little more assistance. Please pick up the phone – 800-343-1211 – when you need us.
A good example of the need for extra help occurred last spring. A teacher was working with a student who had already experienced several years of frustration before she was introduced to Stevenson. After she entered the program she began decoding effectively (for the first time), but slowly. The Stevenson Seven Special Steps helped the student manage the decoding process in spite of her obvious difficulty blending a single consonant sound to a single vowel sound. When the student reached the stage of adding the consonant blends onto the peanut butter and jelly and layer cake patterns (i.e., the thick slices of bread and thick layers of cake), she became completely befuddled and started to regress. The pupil could easily identify the sounds of the individual consonants in the blend, but she could not create the blended sound without all the sounds in a word getting mixed up or mistaken. It is common for students with serious blending issues, as she obviously had, to stumble a little with the consonant blends, but her difficulties were much worse than those you normally see with a struggling reader. The teacher worked with us on the phone several times over several weeks until we successfully broke down the tasks required for her to synthesize the correct consonant blend sound and combine it with the vowel pattern to decode the words accurately. Even then, this student had to go through the extra activities with each consonant blend, one by one. Soon we will be working with the teacher again over the phone to help the student with additional fluency activities.
For most students with learning issues, the Stevenson manuals provide the essential strategies required for success. But sometimes a particular learning problem is so severe we have to extend the strategies, break down tasks a little further or take more time at particular stages of the process. Teaching is not mechanical. It is art plus science, experience plus experiment – and always patience and persistence. So, please, do not hesitate to ask for help.