Pyramid of Potential



Reading - 3 essential elements 




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June 4, 2015


Hey Folks!


This month I am talking about reading, so that parents have important information to be able to help their children this summer to improve reading, and so that other professionals have time to prepare for the fall to implement anything new into their curriculum.


In this article I will go over the three essential elements to reading, tell you about our fire sale on Growing Brains Everyday and why you will want it for helping with the reading, and finally how to take the 150 day Growing Brains curriculum and squeeze it into the summer, so that whoever you are working with can be that much better by the beginning of the school year.

60% off "Growing Brains Everyday" this weekend only! Save almost $100,  We are having a fire sale, don't miss it and get it while you can!

Brain Advancement Training is starting June 1st. Be sure to sign up if you are interested. Head over to for more information. Contact us if you are interested or have some questions.


Thank you so much! Kathy

 Reading - 3 essential elements




Reading is so important to functioning in our society. Without the ability to read signs, instructions and forms, it's nearly impossible to perform a job well. Without the ability to read a book, a person loses out on one of life's great pleasures. By giving up on a child at some point and giving them text-to-speech or a reader, denies them a full future. You may say that you have tried everything but still the child can't or won't learn to read, but there may be a few stones still left unturned. I will cover many of these least used methods during this month, but this week I will concentrate on the 3 basics.


First, I wanted to tell you about the boy who was told he could never read. When he was born, the cord was wrapped around his neck, depriving the left hemisphere of his brain of oxygen. Since the left hemisphere is responsible for moving the right side of the body, he limped and had no use of his right hand. Also, the left hemisphere is responsible for language. He could talk, but when I met him he couldn't read.


Never say never. The first summer that I worked with him, we did cognitive training to improve memory, attention, processing speed, logic and more. The second summer I taught him to read, using the method in the book, Reading Reflex by McGuinness. That was it. He was a reader. If he could improve his brain functioning that much, so can your child or students.


Essential element number 1: Phonemic Awareness


Phonemic awareness is the ability to deal with the sounds, or phonemes, in our language. Someone who does not have this ability hears words, but has trouble figuring out what the sounds are, or can't easily move the sounds around. They can hear the sounds, but can't easily process them. Although this has nothing to do with letters, it is essential to being able to read words that you don't know, like a person's last name that you are not familiar with, or medical terms.


One part of phonemic awareness is the ability to blend sounds into words. When I am teaching someone blending, I say the sounds of the word, not the letters, one at a time. The student puts them together in his head and says the word. For example, for the word love, there are only three sounds - lll   uh   vvv. Each sound is abbreviated and does not include too much extraneous sounds. The sound for the letter v is vvvv, not vuh.


Another part of phonemic awareness is segmenting - pulling apart the sounds in a word. I say what are the sounds in ant, the student says aaa  nnn   t (with as little breath at the end as possible). This is important for breaking apart blends.


It is so important to be able to deal with these individually, rather than together so that the student has the fewest building blocks as possible. There are 44 sounds in the English language, which most people can deal with. However, there are about 1500 letter combinations - to many for a teacher to teach or for a struggling student to learn.


The final part of phonemic awareness is sound manipulation. To read quickly and efficiently, a person should be able to insert sounds, delete sounds, and reverse sounds. For some reason, most of the kids I have taught blend all g's with l's or r's. So, when blending the sounds  g  aaa  sss, she might say glass or grass. She needs to be able to efficiently remove the lll or the rrr.


In Growing Brains Everyday, which is on a fire sale this weekend, there is full phonemic awareness including blending, segmenting, vowel substitution, phoneme manipulation, and rapid naming. A dyslexia teacher in Texas who also is a Brain Advancement Coach, said it was the best program for phonemic awareness that she has seen.


Essential Element Number 2: Know the Code


"The Code" is the translation of the letters and letter combinations into sounds. I always teach phonemic awareness first until it is actually easy to do. Then I start teaching the code.


I never use letter names. Ever. I know that seems counter intuitive, since most everyone else does, but I find it only slows down the process. I am helping people who have had a difficult time reading, so I need to help them get up to speed as quickly as possible. It takes too much time and effort to say "This is a t; it stand for train; the first sound in train is t". Instead, I teach the method out the book mentioned above, Reading Reflex. It teaches sounds only, as represented by one or more letters. The method is easy to learn, easy to teach, and I usually get though teaching the code in just 4 to 6 weeks, an hour a day.


Yes that is all it takes as long as there are no other big blocks. I will be writing about those blocks in the coming weeks.


Essential Element #3: Comprehension


It is all fine and good that a person can easily sound out words, but what if they cannot comprehend what was just read?


There are a few reasons for poor reading comprehension. The first reason is that it is so difficult to read the words that the brain's energy is taken up with the reading, and nothing is left over for comprehension. What could make this happen? Poor decoding skills or vision issues (like double vision) take so long to figure out what the words actually are, leaving nothing left to remember what was read.


The second problem could be that the reader, who reads the words fine, is a concrete thinker - and has poor logic and reasoning. A concrete thinker only knows exactly what is said to him or the words that are written. He cannot deduce meaning or go beyond those words. By the way, this can be taught. It does not have to be life-long. I help students with this through reflex integration and Brain Advancement Coaching.


The final issue causing poor comprehension could be poor visualization. Most people, when reading a novel, have a movie going on in their heads. When recalling what happened in the book, they simply rerun the movie - they visualize it. I have used an excellent book, Visualization and Verbalization by Lindamood-Bell, it takes only 2 to 3 weeks before the student can remember and summarize passages.


These are the 3 essential elements to reading, but there are many other possible blocks to being able to read well. We have to look at why a person may not easily be able to be aware of phonemes, why a person has trouble learning the code, or what is stopping comprehension. We will explore them in the next couple of weeks.


60% off Growing Brains Everyday download

48 hour sale, Friday midnight to Sunday midnight, Eastern Time.

The print version is $149.99; the download will be only $59.99!!

Be sure to get Growing Brains Everyday this weekend, if you would like a curriculum that is completely mapped out for you to teach someone what is needed for reading, writing, and math success. It includes a copy of the reflex integration program, Maintaining Brains and is geared for Kindergarten through 2nd grade Gen Ed, or K-5 Special Ed. There are 150 days of lessons, and each lesson takes 10 minutes, but allowing for more time as needed.


If you want to do this in one summer's time, say 8 weeks, 5 days a week, you have 40 days to complete 150 lessons. There are 5 sections of 30 days each. As the 30 days start easy and get progressively more difficult (although very slowly), do the first lesson of all 5 sections on Day 1, taking about an hour. Feel free to break it up throughout the day, but know that the lessons are meant to be short and engaging. Each day is numbered, so on day 15 you will do day 15 from each section. This will give you 10 days at the end for summary, working on a challenging area or to move on to the code.


Here is what you will be working on:

Phonemic Awareness

Primitive Reflex Integration for Brain Development

Visual Processing - tracking, convergence

Body work - core strength, balance and coordination, crossing the midline

Cognitive skills - sequencing, working memory, processing speed

Academics - telling time, math facts, handwriting, idea writing, reading fluency


How does it get done in so little time? By working developmentally and developing the brain first. This curriculum IS the Pyramid of Potential.






June Conference - Don't Miss It!!

Saratoga Jazz Festival:

Consider a vacation in Saratoga Springs, New York!

June 28 - The Plastic Brain:

Improving Memory, Attention, Processing Speed and More

Registration is at

Save by registering before May 15!!


Throughout the day, Ms. Johnson will train participants in exactly how to remediate some of the most difficult problems that are a result of incomplete brain development in infancy. However, as she likes to say, there is no silver bullet! Each child is an individual who will require a unique approach.

Ms. Johnson will describe a model where the emphasis changes from spending increasingly more time and energy on academics to incorporating brain development into early childhood, special education, and regular education classrooms, freeing up the teacher to teach more academics as a result.

She will share the results from an elementary school in Wisconsin who is implementing these methods with significant cognitive improvements in less than a year! "the improvement in the classroom has been the best news that we hear" Wisconsin Teacher Ryan McBurney


The Developing Brain and Case Histories

Body and Mind Health, and the effect on brain development

     Nutrition, Stress, Exercise, Sleep

Neurodevelopmental Stages; Why Cognitive Skills never Developed

     Primitive Reflexes

     Symptoms and Integration exercises

     Incorporating reflex exercises into the school day

Sensory Development

     Auditory Processing

       Symptoms of an auditory processing disorder

       What to do

     Visual Processing

       Tracking and Convergence Screening

       Simple eye exercises

       Irlen Syndrome and Colored Overlays

       Vision Therapy

Cognitive Skills Development

     Phonemic Awareness



     Logic and reasoning

     Processing speed

Integrating brain development into school day without losing precious academic time


June 29 - Primitive Reflexes:

Foundation for Learning

Registration is at

Save by registering before May 15!!



The primitive reflexes have been around as long as people have been around. They are present primarily to force the infant to move the body in such ways that it develops and matures to survive. The additional benefit, as humans, is that along with motor movements, many other brain components are developing that help with academics: the visual system, the auditory system, the ability to concentrate, remember, and understand.


Several people have commented that they believe this is the missing link. And indeed, in my experience since 2000, I have found that the integration of the primitive reflexes to be one of the least expensive and most effective therapies today.


 "I have a student that a year ago was basically a selective mute on the Autistic Spectrum.  I have put a lot of work in class working in the Moro and can report that she changed like a light switch coming on.  She is speaking in class, she will transition independently, is reading basic readers, and is exhibiting significantly fewer behaviors to the point that we may be removing the 1:1 behavioral specialist from her IEP." - California Teacher Mark Steiner



     Case histories

     History of Reflex Integration


     Primitive reflexes guidelines

     Beyond Primitive Reflexes

Moro Reflex:

      Symptoms, Testing, Integration

Palmar Reflex:

      Symptoms, Testing, Integration

Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex:

      Symptoms, Testing, Integration

Spinal Galant:

      Symptoms, Testing, Integration

Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex:

      Symptoms, Testing, Integration

Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex:

      Symptoms, Testing, Integration


NOTE: Please bring a yoga mat or blanket plus a small pillow and wear comfortable clothes as we will be practicing on the floor

Contact Us
Kathy Johnson, MS Ed

Bob Johnson

Pyramid of Potential
245 Washington St #3369
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

Take a Look!
Fire Sale!
Get Growing Brains Everyday for 60% Off!!!!!
Growing Brains Everyday contains two books: a curriculum guide and a worksheet book that is perfect for the homeschooler or a parent who wants to supplement the child's education. There is 150 day guide with new exercises throughout, which takes just 10 minutes a day.. Find out more - Sales Page
Offer Expires 6/7/2015 at Midnight!!!!!
Video of the Week!

Reading: 3 Amazing Activities
This video goes over the actual reasons behind reading failure. It's not the teacher; it's not the method; it's not motivation. actually, a child's brain must be set up for the ability to process all the different things that contribute to good reading skills, including being able to process sounds well - for decoding - and vision skills to be able to process letters and words on the page. Also important are vocabulary and language skills, processing speed, memory and visualization for comprehension. Watch this video all the way through to understand what can be done!!
This video goes over the actual reasons behind reading failure. It's not the teacher; it's not the method; it's not motivation. actually, a child's brain must be set up for the ability to process all the different things that contribute to good reading skills, including being able to process sounds well - for decoding - and vision skills to be able to process letters and words on the page. Also important are vocabulary and language skills, processing speed, memory and visualization for comprehension. Watch this video all the way through to understand what can be done!!

Upcoming Local Presentations

Improving Reading When Reading Methods Don't Work Well Enough 

June 18, 6:30 - 8:30

63 Putnam Street, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866


Improving Handwriting and Composition Abilities

August 20. 6:30 - 8:30

63 Putnam Street, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866


Improving Math and Word Problems When the Methods Don't Work Well Enough

September 17, 6:30 - 8:30

63 Putnam Street, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866


Where's Kathy?

It is now time to set up your professional development at your school - Kathy is available for many dates this Fall! Call now to secure YOUR date!


Below are the upcoming workshops that Kathy Johnson is giving. If she is not coming to your area, why not hire her for your next professional development?


  Kathy Johnson Photo 2010

Wednesday, September 23, 2015 in WHITE PLAINS, NY 
Early Registration: $189.99 

Thursday, September 24, 2015 in PLAINVIEW, NY
Early Registration: $189.99 

Friday, September 25, 2015 in MANHATTAN, NY
Early Registration: $189.99 

If you aren't near any of these on-site professional development conferences, consider the following:


Dyslexia, Dyscalculia & Dysgraphia: An Integrated Approach   Price: $169.99  Author: Kathy Johnson, MS Ed.  Format: DVD