Teaching children (or adults) to read can be the best job in the world, for parents or class teachers. The pupil learns something and then tries it out. It works! Surprise! Delight! Satisfaction! Self-confidence! You teach systematic, synthetic phonics, making letters talk, DEcoding.

Is Johnny ready to start? (I say he, him, for convenience.) By 4th birthday pretty well all children are ready, some earlier than that. Make 10 or 12 letters on paper, fairly big, and give the child a small card with one of the letters on it. Can he match it with one of the 12? Then another – all 12. If he can do this, and is able to talk, “Go shopping, mummy?” he is ready. A phonics programme can help people learning English as a second language .

If a person is ever going to learn to read in English, this programme helps. My Down’s syndrome son prospered to age 7 on phonics, then lost two vital years in a “special school”, years wasted on look-say, and when (desperate) I started him on Book 1 Page 1 of Royal Road readers (phonics) he went from start to finish without a hitch – 18 months and he could read! He has been reading for the past 40 years.

Mona McNee 2010