Reading with TIPS™ for Reading Specialists

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For the last twenty years, reading wars have been fought over whole language vs. phonics instruction. In some ways, TIPS™ is a natural extension of both. In others, it is a complete revolution. This page will get very technical, explaining exactly why TIPS™ works and why it is so important for the future of teaching children to read.

The English language makes reading more difficult for every student.

Reading Accuracy by Language in Grade 1

The English language is a true outlier in terms of complexity. The relationship between our letters and sounds is the most difficult to manage of any alphabetic language (Share, 2008). This dramatically increases the difficulty of learning to read. It raises the cognitive load required for decoding, which must rely on a broad array of skills for pattern matching, sight-word knowledge, and fundamental decoding skills (Galletly, 2004). Even with “pure” phonics approaches, over 200 sight words must be memorized to read proficiently at a 2nd grade level.  Yet across the world, virtually all students can accurately read every word in their language at ceiling level decoding speeds after a single year of instruction (Seymour, 2003).

The Solution

Embedding TIPS™ creates a clear guide for students. Every word is decodable.

TIPS™ is a series of diacritics that is layered on top of traditional text. Every single word becomes rapidly, easily decodable. This enables children to decode, on their own, thousands of words within a few weeks of instruction. Through repeated decodings, children “self-teach” automatic reading of high frequency words. 

In the process, children naturally develop extremely robust phonics and phonemic awareness. While these skills must be explicitly taught with English “as-is”, with TIPS™ they become a derivative of simple guided reading instruction.


If you teach with TIPS™, can a child read without them?

Young children have fun and can accrue many hours of practice on a tricycle or a balance bike, building skills and self-esteem. As the child picks up steam, the training wheels come off and the child can ride.

It’s the same with TIPS. TIPS allows for steady, productive, enjoyable practice that develops the skills and memories needed to read. As children become proficient, they begin to sight read and the TIPS can be removed.

This approach, unique to English, is how many languages are taught: a system of diacritics is added for early learners and removed for proficient readers.

A Different Approach

How does TIPS™ compare with other phonics programs?

TIPS™ is a unique, patent-pending approach to literacy development. Phonics is the basic relationship between letters and sounds. The challenge is, in English, this relationship is fundamentally challenging. Our language preserves the “morphology” over the “phonology” of words. Words and word parts with similar meanings have similar spellings, even if they are pronounced differently. This helps advanced readers move quickly through semi-familiar written words, but comes at the expense of the early-learners ability to decipher text. 

Traditional “phonics-based” approaches can only go so far. You need exception words and complex rules (using rimes or larger grain-size graphemes). This increases the cognitive load required to decode, which prevents comprehension. TIPS™ is simple. Students decode from left to right, one letter at a time.

Rich Library

TIPS™ unlocks tens of thousands of words in a few weeks of study

TIPS™ is organized into a series of Reading Levels, each introducing different letter-sound combinations based on their frequency of use in English. 

This allows us to create leveled readers in the system and include meaningful content for students, even those at the very beginning of their reading journey. 

Be the Expert

Schools, teachers, and parents rely on you to find the best approach.

When children fall behind in reading, teachers turn to you for guidance and support. Now more than ever, they need you. The demand is impossible: how can you catch up more kids while spending less time with each? TIPS™ can enable you to do just that.

Children learn to read in other countries faster and more fluently because most languages have a transparent orthography. TIPS™ works simply by making English more transparent.

New things happen. Even in reading.

TIPS™ is a truly new approach to teaching kids to read.  It’s reading so easy, a child can do it.

Supplemental Strategy

Different tools will work for different students.

As a reading specialist, you know that one size doesn’t fit all. Every student learns in a different way. Each student comes to the table with a history and a set of skills mastered. TIPS™ can be added to the mix to help ensure that for every student, there is a clear path forward from Point A to Point B.

Meet With Our Team

TIPS™ for Interventions
Learn more about how our program can be applied to help kids catch up.

TIPS™ for Special Ed
Learn more about how our program can be applied to help kids catch up.

TIPS™ for ELLs
Explore solutions to close the gap for English Language Learners (K-3RD)