The Steps To Reading Series



STRS……teaching a child to read, one letter at a time.

As a teacher with a background in physiology, I flowed while some of my colleagues had difficulties in understanding children who had difficulty in learning and (unfortunately) were put in “normal” classrooms in an otherwise, hostile, Nigerian educational environment. Don’t get me wrong, I worked in a good environment but my colleagues in other schools didn’t. And despite my own good environment, we were still incapable of providing for children who were below a certain level of intellectual ability.

Nursery is a good place to start when going into the teaching profession, and soon enough, I fell in love with my job and the children (ages 2-5 on average). I am a very creative person in a lot of areas so I  easily adapted my lessons to themes (back then – as I am no more in the classroom). One area that struck a chord in me was Language, and especially getting children to read. Maybe it was because I was fresh from learning Montessori or because the transition you see a child go through from non-reader to fluent reader is just magical! And I had somehow stumbled on some neurophysiology articles that had to do with cognition – now that had my juices running!

Fast forward 5 years later, I had this urge to train teachers to teach reading properly. So I birthed the Steps To Reading Series (been on it over a year). Through endless research and self-study, I was able to come up with a material that was technical but not too technical for the average Nigerian teacher to comprehend (as long as the teacher is qualified enough to be able to read the material).

WHAT IS THE Steps To Reading Series?

It is a mini-course I developed from a compilation of different works (mostly international because we still depend more on diaspora curriculum in schools here) based on the curriculum we use here in Nigeria. It is divided into 4 phases: Preparatory, Pre-Phonics, Phonics, and Post-Phonics Phases.

Preparatory has 2 module: Neuro 101 & Teachology 101

Pre-Phonics has 4 modules: Alphabetic Principle, Literacy & its stages, Print Awareness & Concept of Word, and Phonological Awareness.

Phonics has 3 modules: Phonics, Phonics the Jolly Way & Phonics the Montessori Way.

Post Phonics has 4 modules: Fluency, Vocabulary, Comprehension 1 and Comprehension 2.

Each module is meant to explain the topics thoroughly so as to ease a lot of headaches for the typical Nigerian teacher.



Neuro 101 gives a simple insight into how the brain works in learning.  Hopefully that will make it easier for teachers to easily recognize that children with learning difficulties shouldn’t be labelled as dull.

Teachology 101: address our attitudes to teaching as a profession. Basically, if God willed that you are a teacher, accept it and make the best of it. Learn to love it, it’s a noble profession! We can always talk about the salary later……

As for the remaining set of modules, it is meant to highlight aspects of teaching reading that is highly overlooked in training schools. The first four modules are usually clumped under phonics….and there is this never-ending war between Jolly Phonics & Montessori Phonics. Then of course, fluency is skipped, Vocabulary is just a normal daily act of living and comprehension?!?!? O dear! Don’t get me started.

I hope to keep developing the series each year, adding and subtracting as appropriate. I hope that sometime in the future, even a secondary school certificate holder would be able to use it to learn to teach reading (with some internships). This is Africa after all, not everyone has the “luxury” of getting into a good university. 


Reading is a prelude to so many things, including mathematics, physics, chemistry, and all other analytical sciences. If they don’t read it properly, they would never understand it enough to solve the problems.

If we can just teach our children to read properly and to actually love the act of reading, we would have a nation of happy, literate, and empowered youths to steer the nation into a naturally positive course.




Why do some people have reading challenges?



I’m doing a self study on children with slow learning abilities, actually, delayed reading ability. The more I read, the more captivating it is. One good thing, though, is that I now know that

if a child can’t read at age 7, it doesn’t mean the child is lazy, dumb or has no hope of ever making it in life.

It just means that both parents and school will need to intensify all efforts in intervention to  assist  the child or teen to read. Now if there is a biological issue involved, that’s another story, otherwise everything is OK. Even children with down syndrome read well if not better than their peers.
A point I must bring to your attention is that

there is a difference between reading and comprehending.

The child with down syndrome, for example, might be very good at reading but will not be able to comprehend what he or she is reading. So if we decide to intervene, we need to focus on both and take it from a simple to complex level.
A study done in the United States, years back, showed that there is a part of the brain that makes no contribution to intellect and is not measured in intelligence test. This area, allows children to distinguish between the tiniest sounds in words. If this area is not properly developed, then the child is likely to have difficulty in reading. Research is still going on in this area.

How can we help this area to develop?
We start very early at home. Children who enter school with a large vocabulary base have a very high probability of excelling in both reading and comprehension. Between birth and the age of 12mths, babies are able to replicate any sound they hear. After 12mths, they loose this ability and will only replicate, perfectly, sounds they have already heard. An example of this is the ‘r’ issue in Japanese language, there is no ‘r’ in the language so a typical Japanese adult won’t hear it in a word. So ‘rice’ becomes ‘lice’.
When mothers use baby talk with their babies, it helps unconsciously to accentuate sounds and rhythm in d native language. Please note, television can never be a substitute for this.

Dyslexia is a common term used to describe difficulty in reading. There are arguments about it being a myth or not.  Some argue that there is really no such thing as Dyslexia, and that you can’t tell between a dyslexic or normal child – see what I mean – it’s placing the child in a ‘special’ group,  and that is quite unnecessary. Others say, No, they need to be in a special group.
I kinda agree with the first group, if there were circumstances that affected a child in the foundational stages of growth, then it is only right to plan out some form of remedial and intervention strategy to assist that child to close the gap between him and his peers.  He is only a poor reader, not a special child. Labelling him might lead to unnecessary stigmatization amongst his peers. It has worked, still works, and will keep working as long as there is a determined and dedicated team, and of course no underlying medical issue.

Next article, we will talk more about dyslexia, God willing. See you!



Why tell a story to a child when you can make the child memorize facts?

Memorizing facts aids the intellect, while story telling

  • bonds the child with the adult,
  • creates a sense of pleasure in listening to others,
  • givesthe joys of sharing life experiences with the younger generation,
  • encourages the growth of empathy, wisdom and intelligence in the child.

Story telling gives the child a way to understand the religious, cultural, traditional, social…norms of his ancestors; the tribulations and joys of years gone by.

  • It tells the child there is a beginning, an interlude, and an end to every event in this world.
  • It is a means of telling the child that the world is full of the good, the bad, and the ugly.
  • It makes the child dream beyond his/her immediate limitations. It is a means of inspiration that leads to aspirations.

So in this age of destructive innovations and digital distractions, what story would you tell your child?

My advice?…….Spend less time in the virtual world and share a moment in your child’s life, a moment longing for stories to be told.

Teachers are a Gift!


It was during one of my PGCE classes that the lecturer asked us about one main resource we found most influential in our learning life right from childhood, and I wrote down the PEN.

So when it was time for all of us to show the rest of the class what we had written, my course-mates saw my – ‘PEN’. Some were like ‘hmmm, – just pen?‘ One of them  said: ‘didn’t you have any teacher that was influential in your educational life?

Poor me, I felt like a betrayer but I could only murmur out: “actually we were too many in the class for any teacher to have that required influence”.  Since then, I have been asking myself: ‘Are you an ingrate?’ ‘What of teachers like:

  • Mrs. Kuti (my Primary 2 teacher), Mrs. Oransaye (my Primary 3 teacher), who used to teach us with so much energy and passion that everyday, when I got home, I kept on singing the rhyme she had taught us: “there is an engine…”, ‘dear me, I really have forgotten most of it now.

Also, back in Secondary school,

  • I had my Junior Secondary Agricultural Science teacher, my After-school lesson teachers:Mr. Rotimi and Mr. Adesanya;
  • my English language teacher: Mrs. Amadife and
  • my Chemistry teacher.
  • Also I remember Mr. Eniola who wasn’t an assigned teacher to our year but always gave me the required attention whenever I go to him with a Physics problem.

Finally, I have to say that every teacher I have passed through in life had contributed in one way or the other to my education. There are also some key people that weren’t teachers but were very helpful and important in my learning experience. Some of these people are:

  • my cousin – Aunty Kehinde, who taught me, in those early years of my life, reading and maths (never mind the use of Aunty for a cousin because that is a colloquial use in Nigeria);
  • Jubril Adelakun, a classmate in Primary 2 who told me that the secret to knowledge is revision; and
  • Victor Akhindenor who helped me to improve my essay writing skills whilst we were preparing for WAEC, because my writing skills prior to that time was – to say the least – abysmal.

These, and others I haven’t mentioned deserved to have been penned down by me in class that day, not my PEN. Now, tell me, if today you are asked what or who is the most important resource you have had in your learning life, what or who would it be?



Abdulghaniy Kayode Otukogbe.
The man who is afraid to risk failure seldom has to face success.

Children and Creativity


The need for creativity in the education of a child is: obvious, necessary, important, under-valued, and essential.

Learning to read and write is an essential experience that every child should be given but it’s more important for the child to be seen as an  individual, who expresses himself/herself in different ways, peculiar to his/her personality traits.

  • We emphasize the learning of numeracy and literacy by children, and forget the inherently beautiful nature of the artistic expression of that knowledge.
  • Take for instance, in literacy where words if properly crafted could have lasting impressions on a child’s (he)ART, or in numeracy where if a child sees the beauty in numbers like the forms of 0, 1, 2….9, then, maybe maths will not be dreadful to the child anymore.

Today,when I look at the gifts in the natural environment from the landscape view, I see art, I see literacy, I see numeracy, I see things I long to understand but seem not to be able to fully comprehend because after-all I am a mortal-being.

  • Education to a child should be both enlightening and liberating in the midst of other things. So, how would you achieve these lofty educational goals in a child if you leave the (he)ART of education itself out.

My appeal to you as a parent/teacher/adult … responsible for the education of a child is……….

Don’t leave out the ART at the (he)ART of education




Abdul Ghaniy Otukogbe. He is married with 3 kids, a Learning Instructor with Adult Education of ERYC, UK – with special interest in Literacy, Numeracy and Learning Disabilities.

The Joys of Reading.


I read so that I can be informed, enlightened, engaged, distracted, consumed, occupied, reminded, identified, sojourned, trained,…and educated.

I read to be informed of the past, present and future.
I read to be enlightened of happenings around me and in the world at large.
I read to be engaged at times that I seem to have too much time for too little to do.

I read to be distracted from the daily tribulations of life.
I read to be consumed in the thoughts of great minds, known and unknown.
I read to be occupied with the more important things of life.
I read to be reminded of my essence of being.

I read to be identified with the world of imagination, the world of books.
I read to be sojourned to places known and unknown to me.
I read to be trained, so that I can do things I need to do, in order to be able to do things I want to do.
I read to be …..
I read to be educated!

Why do you read?



Abdul Ghaniy Otukogbe. He is married with 3 kids, a Learning Instructor with Adult Education of ERYC, UK – with special interest in Literacy, Numeracy and Learning Disabilities.

UKF Library Kids: Words Ladder activity


Today was one of those days you feel inspired to keep moving on with whatever project you have embarked on.

We decided to test the library kids with a Word Ladder, (if you never heard of them, check below for a sample). How many minutes did it take you to finish it? It’s for grade 1-2 level!


At first, I was skeptical because I felt it would be too advanced for them judging by what we had noticed in the past weeks, but hey, they are all kids in grade 4-6, and I just thought that we needed to stop deciding for them as to what they can do or not do, besides the task was grade 1-2 level!

So with 6 volunteers and 74 kids, the ladders were shared and after a spelling bee, we started work.

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