dyslexia programs

Reading with Confidence. Reading at the right Pace. Reading Horizons.

It is no secret that I am a fan of Reading Horizons.  It has been my pleasure to review for Reading Horizons in the past, like this post about the Discovery program.  I also named it one of my top three favorite reading programs in another post.  So before we go a step further, let's state the obvious, I did get the program in exchange for a review and I am a Reading Horizons affiliate.  I would love it if you purchased your program through my Reading Horizons affiliate link.  However, I am more concerned that you give it a chance than buy through my link.  Truly.  They allow you a 30-day trial for only $10.

If you want to know about the specs of the Elevate program, I encourage you to visit the site.  You see, to me this is not a promotional effort but a heart issue.  If you are a mom of a struggling reader, you have done your research. You want to know the specifics but more importantly you want to hear from another mom who knows the hurting heart of raising a child who struggles.  Let's face it, these programs are expensive and you need real solutions.  

A Word on Our Struggle

My dining room table has felt the tears of a child desperately trying, for the tenth time, to read a simple sentence.  Through suppressed tears, I continued to encourage, allowing for breaks when my tears broke through.  I sat and wondered if I was capable of teaching my child how to read.  She was 6 years old when I knew her struggle to read was more than a phase or a refusal to learn.  My instincts were correct and she was diagnosed with dyslexia.  I sought advice and support from anywhere I could find it. I was not going to leave any stone unturned until my child could make progress reading.  

Seeing your child think of herself as anything less than bright and amazing is heartbreaking.  At the point of desperation to find an answer you will try just about anything.  I stood where you are standing now.  From one mom to another, don't buy every program under the sun and toss it in a month because it isn't "working".  Dyslexia requires consistency and repetition.  Often it requires support from someone who will tell you on those rough days that rough days are normal.  Dyslexics simply do not read through the same methods as everyone else.  Teaching a dyslexic child requires a new mindset, new goals, and a new plan.

Why I love Reading Horizons

So, why did I choose Reading Horizons over all the other programs?  Desperation.  I jumped at the chance to review the program because I was lost.  I did not expect it to "work" so much as I needed to do something.  I needed to provide my child another outlet.  I needed to provide hope. Elevate. Even the name inspires hope.  Thankfully, I stumbled into a program that works for my child.  


She is making progress.  


Reading Horizons provided me much needed relief.  


Finally, I am confident about teaching my child.  The reason is not just because Reading Horizons is an amazing product.  The Reading Horizons difference is in the people behind the product.  The people are the number one reason I recommend Reading Horizons first.  The support is unlike any other product. I can tell you from a behind the scenes blogger perspective, they want and implement feedback.  They don't measure success by selling the most products but by producing the most readers. The site offers invaluable information on how to teach the lessons.  If you still require help, it is only a phone call away.  They understand the needs of a struggling reader and your need to feel confident in teaching your child.  So whether your child is ready for the Discovery program for 4-9-year-olds or Elevate for 10-adult, you can feel confident that not only will have you an amazing program but the support behind it to see to your success.  

To my delight and my daughter's dismay, the online Elevate program is set up for mastery.  This means, a child never slides by but masters the lesson.  I have complete access to her progress, which I am proud to keep a close eye on.  In addition, we have the workbooks, which provide additional reinforcement.  My dyslexic child, who has trouble with memory, has memorized a few lessons and all the spelling rules thus far.  I once found her saying the lesson along with the program since she kept having to repeat it.  Turns out, she passed but did not finish the vocabulary portion so the program was prompted to repeat until she completed the entire lesson.  All was not lost, I got a giggle and she will never forget lesson 15.  

A few fun things about Elevate;  you can change your background to a few different colors to make reading easier and you can change the narration voice.  

Now you may ask if my daughter loves it as much as me.  No. She does not love learning to read. She loves the progress she is making and the confidence that comes with completing a lesson. She enjoys being able to complete something independently.  My daughter is severely dyslexic and even at 9 years old, I must be in constant contact with her to complete assignments. Progress and independence...who can beat that?  

Award Winning Reading Program

Ready to experience the Reading Horizons difference or give it a 30-day trial?  Visit Reading Horizons for all the details. 

Are you a blogger or site owner who thinks your readers can benefit from learning more about Reading Horizons?  If so, why not join their affiliate program?  Sign up today!

Disclosure: As a Family Christian blogger, I received a copy of The Berenstain Bears' Country Cookbook to review plus an as an appreciation certificate. 

The Berenstain Bears' Country Cookbook: Cub-Friendly Cooking with an Adult

My children love to cook.  Play kitchens never held their interest for long as they wanted to experience cooking for real.  It was no surprise that The Berenstain Bears' Country Cookbook caused excitement with two girls who began planning meals immediately.  The combination of a cookbook and the Berenstain Bears is pure delight!

The Berenstain Bears' Country Cookbook, is filled with kid friendly recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and deserts.  The recipes contain simple ingredients and instructions which are perfect for teaching and spending time enjoying time together.  You will find classics like chicken noodle soup, Bear-y Good Mac and Cheese to creative fun with Turkey Shaped Sandwiches and Panda Bear Cupcakes.

I loved how easy the recipes were for the kids to make.  However, my favorite thing was the creativity it inspired.  Soon, the girls were coming up with their own recipes based on the ones in the book.  Substituting ingredients is simple and fun so you can continually come up more ideas.

One of the first recipes we tried was the Turkey Shaped Sandwiches.  Instead of peas for eyes, we used scallions.  Since my daughter loves orange peppers, we used more orange than red or yellow. The sandwiches were fun to make and eat.

While the book does not stress whole foods, there are plenty of selections of healthy choices or recipes that easily can be modified for a whole food or clean eating diet.

As a homeschooling mom, I am using the cookbook for a little home economics class.  Each of my girls chose a few recipes to make on their own and the rest we are making together.  I also appreciated the section in the back of the book that showed measuring equivalents plus a little lesson on honey.  Honey is a popular ingredient in my house, so we had fun learning more about it.

I highly recommend this book for every family with young children who want to spend some time together.  It teaches valuable skills while creating warm memories.

Next on our list are the Honey Hunt Cookies.  We will be watching this adorable video while we bake together.

7 Things your Designer wants you to Know

1. She needs your trust.  

Let's face it, you only hire an expert because you need an expert.  We all possess different talents and expertise.  A graphic designer, a good one at least, spends her time studying and perfecting her craft. Not only does she study the technical aspects and design concepts but branding.  She understands her client's need to target an audience so she keeps a pulse on the market.  She also understands that a client's favorite color or icon may not be the best choice so she guides her client to a design that will appeal and the client will love. However, for you to benefit from her knowledge, creativity, and expertise, she needs you to trust her. Trusting her will help you achieve the best results. 

2.  Logos need to be simple.

I know you want to fit your tagline, business vision, and life story on your logo but that simply will not work.  Think of some of the most popular logos.  Without blinking, I bet you can remember Starbucks, Pepsi, Allstate, and McDonald's.  These logos consist of no more than 2 colors (three would be fine) and a simple icon or image.  Memorable logos use minimal text and some only text. A logo is a visual representation of your brand, but it is not your brand.  Allow it to do its job.

3.  Your design isn't about you.

I know that sounds a bit strange but stick with me for a minute.  If Larry from Larry's Lawn Company decided to design his brand with purple and ice cream cones, how many customers do you think would see his brand and call him for a job?  Sure, purple may be his daughter's favorite color and his first dollar earned from a summer job at an ice cream place, but it is hardly the look for a lawn company.  Your design needs to resonate with your target audience. Yes, you should love your design but keep it within the boundaries of what makes sense to potential customers.

4.  PicMonkey and Canva cannot replace a professional design.

PicMonkey and Canva help DIY graphic designers create lovely things easily and quickly.  In fact, I wrote a book called Monkey See, Monkey Do, to help bloggers and amateur designers get the most out of PicMonkey.  These online tools prove their use for pinnable images and images for blog posts. One can design quite a few pretty things using online photo editors.  However, these tools are limited in their scope and one dimensional.  A professional designer brings professional tools and experience to the table.  She can bring your look to a new level with a unique and modern flair.  You may not need a pro for every task, but for your most important jobs like your brand or ebook covers, you will want to invest in yourself by hiring a designer. 

5.  Not every designer and client are a good fit. 

A designer/client relationship should be mutually beneficial.  The designer desires to create something portfolio worthy and that the client will love.  A designer's business is defined by her ability to create a client's vision.  Potential clients chose a particular designer based on a portfolio of past work.  So obviously, it serves the designer well to create something she is proud of while also serving the client.  Design is personal, but the decision to not work with a designer or a designer not working with a client is not.  Ceasing a designer/client relationship does not mean the designer was not good enough or the client was picky.  It only means that a connection was not made and that is ok.  Instead of banging your head against the wall with a designer that isn't working out, you can end the relationship.  Chances are if you are frustrated with the designer, she is frustrated with the project as well. Sometimes things do not work out and you need to cut your losses and move on. Often because money is involved we try to make it work.  The other day, I bought a fierce pair of red shoes that hurt my feet.  I cut my losses and leave them in the closet. Pay for the time, not for a design you will want to redo in six months or less.  

6.  Lingering jobs are difficult jobs.

Communication is very important to the design process.  Let me start out by saying if you have a hard time keeping your designer's attention then you have the wrong designer.  Let's take this from a different approach. Some clients think being picky or asking for revisions makes them difficult. Sure, I can make a case for each of those things being hard to deal with but the lingering client is by far the most difficult.  A lingering client is one who drags out a project with minor changes or unresponsiveness for far too long.  "Far too long" is determined by the size of the project.  We all know life happens, so if you are in the middle of a project and something else is taking precedent, then let your designer know. Your designer must keep her promises to other clients on her list.  Your time and your designer's time is valuable and each must be respected. Certainly you are not expected to make your design the only thing going on in you life but it should be treated as a current project. 

7.  If you don't know what you want, delay hiring a designer.  

If you just want a change but still not at the point of knowing what you want then it is not time to hire but to search.  A designer will have a hard time developing something you love if you don't know what you want.  Sometimes it happens that you hit the jackpot and it felt like the designer read your mind but most of the time it ends in wasted time and possibly wasted money.  I always suggest creating a private pin board of design sites, fonts, design elements, color palettes, etc., to get some inspiration.  Once your ideas firm up a bit, keep the pin board so your designer can see what appeals to you and the direction you want to go.  

Are you ready for a designer for your project?

If you are ready to trust a designer for your ads, ebook covers, printables, business cards, media kits, etc., from someone who keeps her pulse on the market and aims to please her clients, then contact me or Lindsey from Crisp Apple Design.  At CA Design, we get to the core of your vision to make your brand memorable.  

6 Ways to Inspire Imagination in Kids

1.  Encourage Curiosity

Try to see the world through your child's eyes.  Remember when stars held the mysteries of the universe and ants introduced you to an underground world? Allow your children opportunities to explore and discover new things.  Encourage them to critically think about their surroundings but also to explore a new world of possibilities by asking them how they perceive their environment.

2.  Color Outside the Lines

A child should be allowed to color a purple polka dotted house on pink grass under a yellow sky.  It is even okay if the dog is green and the lines are ignored.  Allowing the freedom from the expected will encourage a child to think outside of the box.

3.  Turn off the Screens

Tv, tablets, and video games overstimulate and steal imagination muscles by providing the images and the stories.  A child hardly gets a chance to think or create when hypnotized by a screen.  There is nothing wrong with playing on tablets, video games, or watching some TV.  The trick is to limit it and provide more time for a child to learn to explore his own imagination for entertainment.

4.  Let them get Messy.

Sand castles, mudpies, and finger painting are all a part of childhood exploration.  Kids love to get messy and allowing it will get them fully engaged using all their senses.  Go ahead and let them get messy and then top it off with some fun in the sprinkler or a bubble bath.

5.  Tell Stories.

Play a little story game with  your child.  Go back and forth with each of you telling a part of the story.  You can also take turns telling a story using a particular theme or just making it all up as you go along.  Don't worry about grammar; just have fun creating new worlds.

6.  Open Ended Toys

Toys do not need to light up to be entertaining.  Provide your child toys that open imagination such as building toys, dress up boxes, puzzles, and books.  In fact, sometimes you don't need a toy at all. Give a kid a large box and watch it turn into a pirate ship, race car, house, castle, or space station.

1. Breaking the Bank to Buy their Wants (and your wants)

"He really wants it and I think he deserves it.  Every child deserves a big present for Christmas."  

She was so choked up when she called, it was shocking to me it was over buying her son an Xbox for Christmas.  Her husband had been out of work for over a year and they were struggling to buy groceries.  Not being a stranger to financial hardships, I sympathized yet a better area of concern was Christmas dinner not Christmas presents.  

From a distance, it is easy to see the mistakes other parents make.  Haven't we all spent more than we could afford on something for our kids?  We do this out of love.  We desire to make our children happy.  Is that so wrong?  Of course not.  It is not wrong to sacrifice for our children.  We should caution against misplacing a sense of providing for our children with thinking they deserve a material thing. 

Do we still love God when the check for a million dollars doesn't arrive in the mail?  Do we question God's love for us when the Rolls Royce doesn't appear in our driveway?  Do we deserve heaven?  

An offering of love does not come in the wrapped with a bow on top.  Yes, a gift shows love,  yet the value of the gift does not reveal the value of our love.  Think for a minute, how God shows His love to us.  His love protects, encourages, shows mercy, disciplines when necessary, and provides for our needs.  What about blessings?  Isn't that what we do when we buy our kids an overpriced pair of jeans?  A blessing should be received with a grateful heart and the knowledge that we don't deserve it.  Is that how your child receives what you bless her with?

Along the same lines, do we place too much importance on material things in our own life?  I have nothing against diamonds and sports cars IF you can afford it and priorities are intact. Kids are no the only ones who equate personal worth with material possessions.  If we spend our money keeping up with the Joneses than we can hardly blame anyone but ourselves when our 5-year-old asks for the latest smartphone for Christmas. 

2. Not teaching gratitude

Remember Madame Blueberry saying "a thankful heart is a happy heart"? Simple sentiment that contains so much truth.  A child whose heart is not filled with gratitude will seek to fill it with things. The next big toy seems makes the last big toy look miniscule.  Grandma's heartfelt gift of socks is not met with the same enthusiasm as the $100 box of Legos.  While we certainly can understand a lack of enthusiasm for the socks, we need to teach that being thankful is not about the content of the wrapped box but the heart who gave the wrapped box.

Simple Ways to Instill Gratitude

  • Encourage your children to write thank you notes for gifts and kind behavior. 
  • Discuss blessings and good things that happen to you during the day as a family. 
  • Encourage performing good deeds for neighbors, family, and friends throughout the year.
  • Keep a family gratitude journal.  

3. Not defining wants from needs

"I need a new bike."

"I need a new phone."

"I need an iPod."
He assumed his children understood the difference between wants and needs but used the word "need" for dramatic effect.  Smiling to himself, he purchased his son's "need" and in the process sacrificed high-quality food for something to get by for the week.  After all, it was his job to provide for his kids and why shouldn't they have a few "needs".  After grabbing the bag, he remembered he needed to pre-buy the latest video game.  He figured if he paid just the past due on his cell phone bill, he could manage his and his son's "needs" until the next payday.  

Children should understand that there is nothing wrong with having "wants" as long as needs are not sacrificed to obtain them.  The best defense against a child confusing wants and needs is a parent who models the proper perspective.  Take the time to purposefully show and teach the difference between wants and needs.  Challenge a child to explain why an iPod is a needed item.  With smaller children, go through magazines and ads, and have them cut out a variety of items and place them under the proper heading of "wants" and needs" on a piece of paper.  The challenge does not have to be confrontational.  In fact, the best time to teach such lessons is in a loving and light-hearted mood during a time of when the child is not feeling on the defensive.  In those moments, you have a chance to speak to the heart and the not the ego. 

4. Spending too much time apart from family

Nervousness filled her stomach each time she glanced at the clock.  When did running late become a way of life?  The filed in the van with soccer gear, ballet shoes, and coloring books.  The evening began as usual with four people going in four different directions.  When they meet again they will be hungry and tired.  Dinner will be a blur and soon the relief of a pillow will comfort their tired heads.

In another home, a mom is doing her best to keep her business afloat while raising four kids.  She wears more hats than a zebra has stripes.  While she takes calls and makes dinner, the kids watch their favorite show.  One show, two shows, how many will be watched before the mad rush of bedtime begins?

Children naturally want your attention and desire a family bond.  Yes, even when they ditch your offer to play Monopoly to watch SpongeBob SquarePants. It is up to us to establish family traditions and an atmosphere which maintains a strong family bond. In a busy world held together by WiFi, it is easy to look up on Friday and realize you hardly spent any real time together as a family.  Yet, time is spent.  If your children are not spending time with you then where is their time being spent? Children spending time away from parents is not cause for alarm.  The bell sounds when the family breaks down and outside influences have a guiding hand in raising children.  Children who spend too much time in front the TV are taught the values in the shows they watch and the commercials.  Left alone, ads that show happy children with the new toy looks more than inviting it looks like it brings happiness and fills a need.  Purposeful planning for family nights and daily time together (even if it is 15 minute before bedtime) will keep kids grounded in reality and feel confident in love. 

5.  Not being honest about your finances with your kids

Shaking inside and wondering how he would manage, he gave a barely audible "yes".  At least he maintained his image of a provider in the eyes of his daughter.  She happily walked away making plans for her smartphone.  She knew all the apps she would download but she didn't know how what a burden this purchase would place on her father.  Sure, she knew her father's hours at work were cut but as far as she could tell nothing changed.

Children do not need to know the details.  They certainly do not need our stress transferred to them. However, if your family is experiencing a financial struggle it is important to be honest with your kids.  Let them know that certain things need to change due to a current situation.  Face the situation as a family and protect them by having a plan not by keeping them in the dark.  Obviously, how you share your struggle with your children will depend on the child's age.  Yet, being open about tightening the financial reins will relieve stress, teach your kids how family's work together, and help your children understand that material things are not the important things in life.

How do you guard against materialism in your family?
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