The ONE THING All Good Reading Intervention Programs Have in Common

If your child or student reads below grade level, you might have tried a number of reading intervention programs with varying degrees of success.  Maybe you still want to find a reading program that actually works.  Keep in mind, all good reading intervention programs share one very important quality in common.

Closeup of stack of colorful books with with text overlay and text boxes in teal and apple-green


By the way, when I say “good” what I really mean is “effective.”


This might surprise some folks, but I’m not about to declare that all “good” reading intervention programs need to be research-based.  That’s not the ONE THING.  If you’d like my thoughts about the research, read The Trouble With Research-Based Reading Programs.


Fair warning.  Once I (finally) share the ONE THING, you might want to accuse me of being Captain Obvious.  That’s okay.  If finding the right reading intervention program were truly that obvious, your struggling reader most likely wouldn’t be struggling anymore.  Food for thought.


Okay.  Here it goes.  Are you ready?


The One Thing

Reading intervention programs that successfully help struggling readers become the strongest, most capable readers they can be are… tailor-fit to the needs of the learner.


Like I said, Captain Obvious, but stay with me.


Effective Reading Intervention Programs

When you search for effective reading intervention programs, you likely come across a few key components of good reading instruction in general.  Maybe you’ve read that instruction must be:

  • Systematic (It progresses from least difficult to most difficult.)
  • Cumulative (It builds upon prior skills.)
  • Explicit (Students never need to guess for understanding.)
  • Diagnostic (Instruction is individualized to the child.)


Those features all describe structured literacy.  Structured literacy benefits ALL students, not just the struggling ones.


Those requirements make sense when we’re talking about reading intervention, too, but let’s take a closer look at the term “diagnostic.”


According to the International Dylexia Association, instruction must be individualized.  “Diagnostic teaching… meets a student’s needs.”  In other words, it’s tailor-fit to the student.


How do we achieve that?  We take steps to identify what the student’s needs actually are.  Unfortunately that’s not as common or as obvious as we would expect.


Here’s what we DON’T do.  We certainly do NOT provide reading instruction at the phonics level to a student who hasn’t yet mastered phonemic awareness, or sound-symbol association.


Don’t worry if you don’t know what those terms mean yet.  You’ll have an opportunity to become crystal clear about them in just a moment.


First, let me ask you this.  Is your child or student reading below grade level?  If so, the reading intervention program or programs that you’ve already tried aren’t working.  It’s time to find one that does.


So, how do you know what’s at the root of your learner’s reading difficulties?  How do you identify, or “diagnose” if the trouble begins at the phonemic awareness level, at the sound-symbol association level, at the phonics level, or something else entirely?


I have two invitations for you to consider.  Both are free.


Invitation #1

If your learner has been formally evaluated, perhaps you already know that reading is falling apart at the letter-recognition level (sound-symbol association).  Whether you’re a teacher, parent, or specialist in reading, if that’s true for you, I encourage you to watch The Letter Sounds Made Simple TRAINING & TEST DRIVE.  It’s a free online video training that includes a downloadable, printable sample lesson of the LSMS program.


Yes, the program ticks all of those required boxes for structured literacy that we discussed earlier.  It’s also multisensory.  It’s also very easy to implement.  It also leaves struggling readers reading with accelerated confidence in a very short time.


To see if it’s actually a good fit for YOUR learner, take it out for a spin, for free.  Don’t worry if the sample lesson turns out to be TOO simple for your struggling reader.  Remember, the program starts off easy (systematic).  Each lesson builds upon the letters and letter combinations that your learner mastered in the prior lessons (cumulative). Find The Letter Sounds Made Simple TRAINING & TEST DRIVE here.


Invitation #2

If, on the other hand, you already know that your learner struggles with phonemic awareness (which we need to develop BEFORE letter recognition), OR you’d like to dig deeper and identify what’s REALLY holding your learner back (in reading and beyond), please watch Looking at Learning Differences Differently (also free).  Once you have a better understanding of what to look for, you’ll have a chance to make the next big step in your learner’s journey forward.


Whichever direction you choose, if you have questions, please don’t hesitate to connect with me here.