Guest Post By: David Morgan


Learning to read can be one of life’s most stressful events for a child. For some children, picking up phonics and spelling seems like second nature. For others, the reading process sparks long-lasting low confidence and a chronic distaste for schoolwork. Parents often find it difficult to know how to build up self-confidence in a child while also correcting their mistakes. Pairing praise and criticism is not an easy job, so we have a special rule that helps to keep the two in balance.


“The Rule of 5” says that as a parent you must say five encouraging remarks to your child before you can say something negative.


But I can’t let my child get away with reading a word wrong, can I? You might ask this question – and it’s a good one! Our children do need a lot of correction as they grow. But the problem is that even the most well-meaning correction will always come across to a child as a harsh criticism. Even children with high confidence tend to take correction badly. We’ve found that once you practice a praise-first policy, children become more open to hearing instruction.


We’ve called this idea The Rule of 5 in order to make the model more tangible. You might want to pledge to a Rule of 3 or a Rule of 7, depending on your child. The idea is that once you have a numerical target to reach, it is easier to measure your success. We always perform better to specific challenges than general ones.


Especially if your child struggles with school and has fragile self-esteem, The Rule of 5 not only increases confidence but also will usually improve academic performance. Stress can be a main cause of reading difficulty, because your body responds to stress by shutting down the learning centers in the brain. This is a part of the “fight or flight” response. The body focuses all of its energy on responding to the threat, at the expense of non-essential functioning like digestion and learning. So once some of that school-related stress has been alleviated, the brain is much better prepared for the learning environment.


If The Rule of Five is a new concept, give it a try over the course of one week. I am sure that you will love the outcome!

David Morgan is CEO of Oxford Learning Solutions, publisher of the Easyread System. Easyread is an online course that helps children with dyslexia, auditory processing disorder, and highly visual learning styles improve their reading and spelling through short daily lessons. Find out more at or on Facebook at