The Acorn Newspaper

Armie Carabet, right, and Alan Scalone are co-owners of the Agoura Hills-based ClickN KIDS. The company has developed a new, online reading program called ClickN READ Phonics.
Learning to read is a milestone in every child's education. Most children begin to read at six or seven years of age, but for some children who have trouble grasping the alphabet, phonetics, and the letter and word decoding required for reading success, a new Internet program can help.

ClickN KIDS, an Agoura Hills-based firm that develops online educational software, has introduced ClickN READ Phonics, an online, interactive beginning reading program for home use.

The program, which previously was only available to schools, complies with the federal mandate of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

The ClickN READ Phonics program breaks down difficult concepts into easy-to-understand child's play.

The program consists of 100 fully animated and interactive, 20- to 30-minute lessons with activities that connect short stories with the specific skills being taught.
"Each lesson concludes with a letter sound and word recognition assessment," according to the website. "Non-readers with no prior computing skills are able to use the program independently and acquire proficient reading skills." Four "learning environments"-The Letter Sound Chamber, Listening Cube, Reading Room, and the Speed chamber, appear after each lesson and feature multiple exercises.

Partial lessons are demonstrated on the website, but a free, school full trial account is available to test. The program is also suitable for children with disabilities.

Armie Carabet, chief executive officer and co-founder of the firm, said that ClickN READ Phonics has been used at schools in all 50 states, but has only recently become available for in-home use. "It's pretty brand new," Carabet said. He added that ClickN READ Phonics was the show-stopper at the 25th annual National Educational Computer Conference in New Orleans last July, 2004.

"There is nothing like this out there yet," said Alan Scalone, co-owner and president of ClickN KIDS. Scalone explained that when the product's concept was conceived in 1999, the technology to create it wasn't even available yet. Scalone said that the individualized instruction is based on the scientific research of an educational leader Dr. J. Ron Nelson.

Dr. Nelson is known in the education field for his years of research on effective reading instruction. A press release stated that ClickN READ Phonics was derived from two independent research panels-The National Academy of Sciences, in 1998, and the National Reading Panel, in 2000.

Children as young as four can work independently on the ClickN READ Phonics program, but it was designed for parents and teachers to monitor a child's progress. A comprehensive report generated after each lesson allows parents to track their child's progress over time. The program differs from educational computer games in that it simulates actual classroom instruction.

"Knowing that a chief complaint of educators nationwide is not having enough time to meet the reading intervention needs of students at risk of reading failure, ClickN READ Phonics addresses this problem directly by providing extended learning and practice opportunities with minimal teacher time required," Scalone said. No special training is required of teachers and parents to implement the program.

"The online delivery of ClickN READ Phonics ensures that schools and home users always have the most up-to-date version of the software each time they log in," Carabet said. "There are no out-of-date CD ROM's, broken videos, lost flash cards or other cost and time-intensive obstructions to interfere with quality and consistent instruction," he added.

A year's home subscription to the program for one child is $79.95; $19.99 for each additional child.