How it all started …
When I was six years old, like thousands of children of that time, I went to school in Namibia, then South West Africa. The school system was the same as that of Britain and other European countries. I attended an Afrikaans, English and German medium school. My mother tongue is Afrikaans, therefore I was in the Afrikaans medium class.
I can clearly remember how easy it was for me to learn to read and how much I enjoyed it! We learned the phonics from day one. We were taught how to read and write with them and they opened up a world for me. It was such a logical and easy way to use the symbols (letters that are phonemes) to decode any word in all three of the languages that were taught in that school. The phonics gave me the ‘power’ to decode any word, even those written in English and German! I remember by the lack of more books available, that I would read anything with words on it, with the help of all the phonics I knew. Sweets and chocolate bar wrappings, boxes for toothpaste, soap, etcetera, became my ‘books’ too. As a six year old school beginner, decoding difficult words, like ‘manufactured’, ‘occupied’ ‘Ausspanplatz’ (German) became a challenging game for me. I could READ them, even though I often had to ask my mom to explain their meanings to me ! It took me only two years to get to grade four!
After only eleven years in school, I completed grade twelve successfully and then went to South Africa to complete my Junior Primary Teaching Diploma. After receiving my Diploma, I went back to Namibia to teach. I taught beginners to read, write and spell for ten years. During those years, the global ‘look-and-say’ method was imposed on teachers and children. It was believed to be a miracle-working method worldwide and that all children would be able to read in an instant using this method. Unfortunately, phonics were considered unimportant and they were not taught as part of the skill of reading anymore. It was a disaster! Therefore, millions of children went (and are still going) through an educational system and missed (are missing) out on acquiring and mastering the skill of reading, writing and spelling properly!
Therefore, I had to develop my own learning materials because it was (and is) difficult to find the materials that teach phonics and reading STEP by STEP chronologically, in bookshops. I prayed for guidance and wisdom and I was taught by the children through the difficulties they were (and are) experiencing during the learning process. I had to write and illustrate these books, because I also started to do remedial work with children with learning disabilities because of the fact that they could not read, write and spell. It was with me like George Elliot wrote in his poem “Stradivarius“:
“If my hand slacked,
I should rob God — since He is fullest good,
Leaving a blank instead of violins.
He could not make Antonio Stradivari’s violins
The books on my website:www.howtoreadstepbystep.com are the result of many years of praying, listening and hard work. Now I want to make these materials available for children, parents and teachers and I want to interact with you while you teach them to read.