Reading Bear is a completely free website that teaches you (or your children) how to read. It uses the most basic and simple parts of reading, called phonics or phonetics, to teach them not only how to recognize words but how to read new ones without looking them up in the dictionary.
When I was in elementary school, way back in the covered wagon days, one of the first steps to reading that they taught us was phonics. Phonics is the basis of reading, as I was taught.
Each letter in the alphabet makes a certain sound, which can change based on the relationship it has to other letters in the word. These basic building blocks of reading were the first and most important lesson I ever got in how to read, and it carries over into how to write as well.
Imagine my horror when I came to learn that this standard is not being taught at all schools in the USA! Our children are learning to read using other principles, like picto-recognition, which is a method that teaches children to recognize individual words without understanding the basic relationship and sounds of the letters that form them! That, to me, sounds a lot like teaching a kid
that two plus two equals four but neglecting to teach them that one plus one is two! It just doesn’t make sense.
Now, there are plenty of programs out there that teach phonics, some of which are very well known and promise to get your kid ‘hooked’ on the concepts of phonetic reading. These programs are very good, from what I have seen of them, but they have one small problem as far as I am concerned: Cost. These programs, which were created by some very smart people who went to some
very good schools, cost money to obtain and subsequently teach to your kids. That’s a standard of economy, of course, and it does make sense that the people who worked so hard to create these programs should be compensated for their work. However, it leaves those who cannot afford them out in the cold, thereby perpetuating the poor and uneducated statistic in our country. Essentially, if you can’t afford education, then your kids will be disadvantaged compared to those who can afford it.
Reading Bear steps in at this point and offers free phonics based reading lessons to anyone who can log onto the internet. Pair this with libraries offering free internet access, and you’ve got a solution right here! Reading Bear is a great web site that offers numerous, step by step, interactive audio and visual teachings on how to read using the basic phonics system. Going back to basics is always a good idea, especially when talking about early education so I decided to check out the web site myself.
The front page is packed with info, which is a nice change from many sites that just put up a splash logo and a couple of links like Login or Register. Reading Bear does have those two links on their front page but they also offer a ton of information there, as well. You can take a tour of what is on offer at the site, or you can just jump right in with lessons and get reading! The whole site is set up to be very user friendly and the lessons themselves are no exception. There are a few options, like font size, rate of speech, and whether or not to pause and allow the student to repeat the lessons aloud. Each lesson will show a multitude of different words, sound them out, use them in a sentence, and give visual examples as well. Overall, it’s just like having a phonics teacher right there with your child.
Reading Bear is already a great, free website, but they plan on adding even more great content in the near future. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about reading phonetically, no matter how old they are or what level of education they have. From kindergarten to college, phonics is always going to be useful, as you never know when you will come across a word you don’t recognize. Give this site a try and tell you friends about it, because reading is one of the most essential basics of education, and we can all agree that better education for our kids will lead to a better tomorrow for them as well.
Until next time, my friends!
Check out Reading Bear here.