Have You Looked at How To Tutor Yet? You Should!

How To Tutor book

The Original How To Tutor by Sam Blumenfeld

We must seem to be singing the praises of Alpha-Phonics almost exclusively at times, but if you’ve ever visited the website you’ll readily see that the Paradigm Company has a line of teaching materials extending far beyond it.  One of the most important of these (apart from Alpha-Phonics itself of course) is the How To Tutor family of publications, headed up by How To Tutor itself.

How To Tutor,  shown  here, is the original book by Sam Blumenfeld, the well-known American educator who has spent most of his life investigating why American literacy has declined to the degree it  has and then dedicated that life to fixing the problem(s).

For reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmatic the How To Tutor materials can cover the bases in an easy and effective manner.  It could be all you need to get your child off to the right start!

For a good overview of How To Tutor, we have several short videos that should  help you to see if it is right for you.  (We’re pretty sure it is!)  These can be seen HERE.

Posted in arithmetic, cursive, education, handwriting, homeschooling, How to Tutor, Phonics, Reading, teaching, tutoring | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Another Convincing Review of Alpha-Phonics

There are, of course, many moms and teachers who have successfully used Alpha-Phonics to teach their pupils to read.  We never tire of hearing of their experiences and reading their reviews because we believe their point of view is especially valuable to those looking for a phonics system to use.  Adena Foster, at adenaf.com is one of those.


Adena Foster

Adena speaks from experience so if you’re still undecided about how to teach your child to read, her review will be worth your while.  Look for her giveaway too – you may end up winning the set of Alpha-Phonics materials you want so much!

Look here:  AdenaF.com

Posted in Giveaway, homeschooling, Little Companion Readers, Phonics, Reviews of Alpha-Phonics, teaching | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Mom teaches her 8 kids to read with one $ 20 Alpha-Phonics

Twenty-three years and one copy of Alpha-Phonics – not a bad run for just $19.95!  Yes, that’s what Alpha-Phonics cost 23 years ago.  We don’t put a dollar value on a person learning to read because we think it’s incalculable, but we’re awfully proud that we have taught so many children their ABC’s for so little.

I know you’ve wondered about Alpha-Phonics; why else would you be here?  I invite you to go to our main site and see everything we have to offer but first, look at this short video and then visit Linda Sear’s blog, Apron Strings and Other Things.  

Yes, you saw correctly:  she had her original copy of Alpha-Phonics on the table.  Besides the new spiral binding, nothing has changed!

Do you know someone who is ready to learn to read?  Give them Alpha-Phonics!


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Common Core Was Predicted in the ’60s?!

Most of your parents (and even some  of your grandparents) will remember a TV show from the 1960s called “The Prisoner”, staring Patrick McGoohan.  In those days, it was good theater but still a rather horrific vision of the future that few of us wanted to take seriously.   Unfortunately, you may, if you pay attention, see the many similarities with what we’re witnessing with Common Core today.

Now that’s horrifying.

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Mom Invents Harness for Disabled Son

The Upsee Harness

The Upsee Harness at work!

‘When my son was two years old, I was told by medical professionals that ‘he didn’t know what his legs are and has no consciousness of them'”, said Debby Elnatan, an Israeli mom. This is a tough thing for a mom to hear.  Debby couldn’t bear doing nothing about it however, and she put her mind and imagination to work.  The result was the Upsee Harness.  It has just hit the market and is seeing and immediate and enthusiastic response. Read more of this story at the link below and then consider if you know anyone who could benefit from this wonderful invention.  I wouldn’t be surprised if you did! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1HfyUStrww The Harness of Hope, (The Daily Mail)

Bill Gates Wants to Know You Better

The Gates Foundation has released a study that highly encourages the aggregation of all the bits and pieces of personal data that is stored in the hard drives of local, state, and federal agencies. The Foundation especially sees tremendous value in being able to track the careers of young people as they move from their college careers into their working lives. If this information was amalgamated in one government site it would be accessible all at once, sort of a “one stop shopping spree” for those who want it. The principle goal would be to eventually determine the value of higher education. Of interest is the fact that the study, called “College Blackout”, particularly slams one organization for its opposition to the idea: the National Association for Independent Colleges and Universities. The report claims that the NAICU is opposed to the idea because it would somehow hold its member institutions “accountable”. The NAICU counters that on the contrary, such a system would permit a massive invasion of privacy. Invade our privacy? The government? Such cynicism! To learn more: “What the devil?! Bill Gates wants your college info so he can tell you what classes to take” (Catholic Online)

Gates Foundation Lobbies for Feds to Collect Data on College Graduates’ Lives (Breitbart)

The College Blackout (PDF of the report itself) Want more? Try this.


Another Great Review of Alpha-Phonics!

Lisa of “Our Simple Kinda Life”

Once again, a mom has proved something we’ve known and appreciated about Alpha-Phonics for a long time:  it can correct the wounds left by some non-phonics reading systems.  Her child was a good reader until his public school taught him his way was all wrong and he would have to learn all over with the “right” way.  This left his confidence shattered and took the joy out of reading.  When we asked her to do a review of Alpha-Phonics, we didn’t know her back story.  What a pleasure it was when we read the account of her experience! If you’ve ever wanted to know if Alpha-Phonics works, this is the review to read.  Drop by her blog, Our Simple Kinda Life, read the review, and then enter her giveaway now!

Posted in America, homeschooling, Phonics, Reviews of Alpha-Phonics | Leave a comment


See Spot Listen

Estonia – A fascinating approach to helping kids with reading difficulties is being experimented with in this Baltic nation.  If your child lacks a little (or a lot) of confidence in her reading skills, get her to read to the family dog.

A young reader holds the attention of his listener . (AFP photo)

The library of the city of Tartu invites kids to come by twice a month, pick a dog from the several brought in on those days, and simply read to them.  The manager for this project, Ewa Roots, says that it not only helps kids overcome their reading difficulties but helps them improve their socialization skills as well.

“Dogs are calm listeners and unlike other kids or adults, will never be critical when a child makes mistakes while reading,” she said. “Sessions with dogs boost self confidence and children start to feel more free and secure to express themselves”

This small nation of 1.3 million boasts a 100% literacy rate so I’m inclined to believe they may be on to something.  Why not give it a shot yourself and let us know?

84 Year Old California Man Decides to Learn to Read

Like most of you, I would find life without reading  something I would not like to contemplate for long.  And yet, we know there are thousands of adults in our communities who either struggle with it or are simply illiterate.  We here at Paradigm  know well that it’s not just kids we have helped to learn to read over the more than 30 years of Alpha-Phonics‘ existence but quite a few adults as well.  Recently we ran across this story that is well worth repeating.

John Var, of Roseville, California, has managed a long life and successful career as a carpenter without knowing how to read.  He even graduated from high school in his upstate New York hometown in  spite of his doctors proclaiming his “learning disability” would never allow him to decipher the letters on a written page.

John Var Learns to Read (photo: Philip Wood, Press Tribune

One day three years ago, he wandered into the Roseville public library and asked for help with a book.  When the librarian learned that he was illiterate she suggested he join the library’s adult literacy program.  He decided that indeed, it was about time and soon he was coming home with books  and spending most of his free time reading them.  He has a lot to catch up with!

Have you ever considered teaching someone to read?  If so, you’re on the right website to begin.  Alpha-Phonics is not just for kids, that’s why it won’t remind you of a children’s book when you first see it.  It’s a serious, practical, and efficient way to learn reading and we can prove it!  You don’t have to be an accredited expert to teach reading; we’ll teach you how and it’s easy.  All you need is a copy of Alpha-Phonics and you will be ready to bestow a gift that will change someone’s life forever.  Learn why Alpha-Phonics works so well:

Zee v. Zed

I’ve always taken it for granted that over here (the U.S.) we say “zee” and over there (everywhere else English is native) they say “zed”.  Now, like a late blooming 4 year old, I ask “Why?”

Well, like many puzzles we’d like to get to the bottom of, there is more than one answer.  “Zed” clearly comes from the Greek “zeta”, so that takes care of that.  But why did Americans change it to “zee” when before the Revolution, most everyone here said “zed”?  Well, there you have it: the Revolution.  After we clipped the ties that bound the two nations it appears that it just wasn’t cool any more to say it the way the British said it, and so, because of the several accents already prevailing in different regions, those that didn’t sound British were emphasized and finally “zee” came out the winner.  Nothing formal or intentional, you understand, but just because that’s the “American Way”.

So I’ll bet all of our American readers who have taught their kids the alphabet song have done so saying “zee”.  After all, the key to learning the song is that it rhymes, right?  Here’s a version that uses “zed”.  You will see it permanently posted on our links column to the right of the page.  (You can refer to it once in a while when you want to remember the “words” to it!)




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Is Universal Pre-K Really the Way to Go?

There is something just so right-sounding and attractive about the idea of Pre-K for every kid in America.  It’s just a “no-brainer”, isn’t it?  There is no doubt that the concept is gaining popularity all over the country and, of course, we have the almost 50 years of the Head Start program to guide us.  With that much experience we should be able to make an informed decision regarding the efficacy of pre-K.

Yes, we should be able to, but as usual we don’t.  Recent studies have shown that although there can be a spike in a pre-K youngster’s IQ, it doesn’t last past third grade.  Much, if not all, of the studies showing worthwhile positive educational results look at small pre-K programs that are specifically targeted at lower income families.  This is rather like cherry picking your data; these results will almost certainly not hold true for a universal program.

Currently there is a mini-battle going on in New York between the new mayor of New York the City and the governor of New York the State and the point at issue is not whether pre-K offers a positive cost-benefit but simply how many billions they want to spend on it.  The new progressive mayor of NYC, Bill de Blasio, wants to shell out lots of billions for the program, financed through a typical (for progressives) tax-the-rich scheme.  Governor Cuomo, with an election in the near future, wants to take it easy on taxes for a while, so he’s not talking nearly as generous with the taxpayers’ money.

The point is that neither of the two gentlemen even questions if it is even worth it.  Universal pre-K has become etched in the stone tablet of Progressive commandments and by God, (or by something that’s not quite God), they’re going to have it.  Sort of like universal health care, one dare not question unless one wants their full righteous wrath to fall upon one’s benighted head.

Universal Pre-K = Universal Day Care?

In a way, it’s also a bit like Common Core State Standards, which sounded like such a good idea when it first saw the light, but when finally implemented has been revealed to be something quite different. Universal pre-K is beginning to look like it might be less than promised, especially when considering the costs.  Could it be more likely a step to universal day care (another lofty progressive goal) where those who know what’s best for us can begin early indoctrination of your child in the correct way to live in and see the world?

For some very good analyses of the issue continue on to the links below and tell us what you think!

A closer look at Obama’s universal pre-K proposal (Powerline)

Universal pre-K remains a dubious idea (Powerline)

The Dubious Promise of Universal Preschool (National Affairs)

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Another Good Reason to Homeschool

Last week a 13 year old girl came home and mentioned to her dad that she saw a poster at school that had her pretty upset.  As soon as her dad heard about it he became pretty upset too.  Actually, he became very upset.He called the school, Hocker Grove Middle School in Shawnee, Kansas, and demanded to know what was up.  He was told that the poster was actually a teaching aid in support of abstinence and that it had been approved by the District.  He couldn’t believe that no one at the school thought it inappropriate.

As well, many other parents came out in support of the curriculum, although most had some misgivings about the poster.  What it seems to come down to is whose responsibility is this kind of material and at what age should it be presented?  Should the parents at least be informed of the contents of the curriculum and given the opportunity to withdraw their children from the class?

These are the sort of problems that do not go away and as long as public schools need to teach kids from a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds there will be some parents who are outraged, some who are supportive, and some who just don’t care.  If you are a homeschooler you can feel relief that it is not your problem and that control over what is presented to your child is yours alone.

We all, however, should ponder the direction we are being driven by our culture as a whole and the role that public schooling takes in influencing that direction.  Most of us can agree that we are not where we would like to be at this time.  How much of that can be laid at the feet of the public school system?  Put yourself in this parent’s place and ask yourself how you would feel.

(Eventually, because of the row it caused, with the national press jumping on it, the poster was withdrawn from the program for “re-evaluation”.)

For more views on this story, we recommend these links:

(The Atlantic)

Does this sex ed poster go too far? (She knows Parenting blog)

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A Student Slams Common Core

Finding a student who criticizes his school or teachers is not the most difficult task under the sun.  Finding one who has a perfect grasp of the disaster that is Common Core State Standards and can articulate it so that even School Board members can understand it is a bit more of a challenge  however.  (Although, I might add that the latter is becoming easier as CCSS continues to be implemented.)

Nonetheless, it is still rare enough to be news and this past week saw a video of one such student, Kenneth Ye of Knox County, TN, gathering quite a bit of attention.  His skewering of Common Core was about as articulate and damning as any adult could have provided.

One point Kenneth made was that Common Core is forcing American Education to become more and more similar to the Chinese system, which for its excellence in turning out standardized factory workers, does not excel at producing students who can innovate and think for themselves.  This is something about which  America used to be able to boast but lately seems to be anathema to those in power.  Mr. Ye, by the way, should know.  He began as a student in Chinese schools and knows the difference first hand!

Do  You Have a Hyperactive Kid?

Some of you may recall an article posted here back in March (Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese Causes Hyperactivity? Oh, no!!) regarding the possibility that certain food colorings can cause a host of problems for some people.  Our attention has once again been drawn to the subject by an alert reader.

Then it was the venerable and much loved Kraft Maroni and Cheese packaged meals that came under scrutiny.  Now it’s even more terrifying:  M&Ms may be doing us in!  It has been revealed that these icons of American candydom are painted with petroleum based dyes.  Yechh!

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have estimated that as of 2011 upward of 11% of American Children have been diagnosed with ADHD and the number seems to be trending upward.  These are not data to be taken lightly and there is a growing effort by American moms to do something about it.  One of these Moms is Renée Shutters who has the personal experience to back up her concerns.  The good part of her story is that in the case of her own child’s suffering she was able to find relief by eliminating foods that sported the brilliant colors of certain dyes.  She feels so strongly about this that she has launched a petition to convince American food manufacturers to convert from petroleum based dyes to more natural vegetable based substitutes.

To learn more and perhaps sign her petition visit this link:  https://www.change.org/MMsDyes




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The Government Has a Lesson Plan for You!

The only thing wrong with comparing central planning to a market based approach to anything is that they don’t compare – they contrast.

There are so many aspects of today’s educational system that beg attention that one can hardly blame anyone who is willing to try anything in order to improve it.  But why try the same old approach, the one that has been found wanting by some of history’s most grandiose and failed efforts (i.e., for one, the former Soviet Union)?

” Having one inflexible model for education is so old-fashioned.” – Sabrina Schaeffer, Independent Women’s Forum

No matter how the shine is put on the assumed positives of Common Core, it suffers one fatal flaw over all others:  central planning does not work.  And there is no mistaking the fact that this latest effort at “improving” America’s educational system is a gigantic step in the direction of central planning.  In fact, you might call it the “single payer” system of education.

In a recent article John Stossel brought up a point addressing this very issue:

“As American education has become more centralized, the rest of our lives have become increasingly diverse and tailored to individual needs. Every minute, thousands of entrepreneurs struggle to improve their products. Quality increases, and costs often drop.

But centrally planned K-12 education doesn’t improve. Per-student spending has tripled (governments now routinely spend $300,000 per classroom!), but test results are stagnant.”

Those are numbers and facts that just don’t compute into a sane and viable future.

Resistance is Not Futile!

As recently as last year, the proponents of Common Core were sure it was a done deal, but as more and more citizens learned the details and saw the actual curricula as it came on line in their children’s classrooms, the resistance to this bold attempt at molding children’s minds has grown to impressive dimensions.  In fact, it is just beginning!

(Read more of Mr. Stossel’s article HERE.)

To help inform you we are constantly adding valuable links to our “Learn More About Common Core” page. Bookmark it and check in regularly; we are making headway in this fight!



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