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Early Reading treats understanding the printed word the same as the spoken word. Reading starts earlier and children start school reading.

Early Reading

Early Reading starts in Nursery School and the children start primary school reading. The procedure is simple and not expensive. Pair the printed word with an image and the spoken word and the child will learn both. In a 4-month proof of concept study 9 schools learned to read 3 sentence paragraphs. We have video tapes of the process. At this time there are 50 schools in Uganda and Kenya.
Robert Zenhausern, CEO Enabling Support Foundation
Postpone the alphabet until the person can read.

Robert Zenhausern, CEO Enabling Support Foundation


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Updated on May 6th, 2020
about the innovation

Early Reading

History and progress 

Early Reading arose from research in 1983 that showed that dyslexics understood the meaning of a word, even though they could not say it.  It will help dyslexics and show slow readers, but is effective for all children and will work with adults.   

In a span of 18 months, Early Reading grew from nothing to more than 50 schools in Kenya and Uganda. 



The purpose of reading is to develop a connection between text and meaning.  Education has decided that because English is a semi-phonetic language, reading should be taught by phonics. 

That is an epic blunder for two reasons: 

It is effective for only 80% of readers.  The rest are called dyslexic. 

It postpones reading by at least 3 years, while the child learns phonetic decoding. 


How different speech!  Children learn to speak and understand the spoken word as part of maturation.  Why not reading.   Show the printed word at the same time as the spoken word, and the child will understand both.  Early Reading is a form of speed reading. 

How to get involved 

The Enabling Support Foundation has an Office 365 network called Peace Flame and invites anyone interested to register and get an account on Peace Flame.  Subscribers communicate others who are involved, individually or in special interest groups.  They will have access to the videos showining the process of Early Reading and the latest strategies and tactics. 

To register, visit 

To learn more about the Enabling Support Foundation, visit 


See this innovation in action

Letter to a council woman
During the past 10 years ESF has supported grassroot African social good organization. Our strategy is to find already productive organizations and guide them into the 21st Century of using the resources of the support productive social good organizations. We are using Office 365 as the communication center of the ESF Office 365 network. We have a growing community that can collaborate on common goals or proposals for funding. Our Prime Mission is to bring Education into the 21st Century. We have started by the introduction of what we call Early Reading. It has one rule. Postpone the alphabet until the child can read. Consider how children learn the meaning of the spoken word and compare it with the way they learn the meaning of printed word. Understanding the printed word takes place 5 years after the spoken word. Why? Because that is the way reading is typically taught. Starting with the alphabet and building the word and saying it. Early Reading postpones the alphabet until the child can read. Teach the child the spoken and written word at the same time and they will learn both together. Teach reading by the word, not the letters. The letters come later when they learn spelling and keyboarding. In theory it sounds good, but does it work? Yes. Better than I expected from both students and teachers. In 2017 a proof of concept study of Early Reading was done using 9 nursery schools in Kenya and Uganda. In four months the 3 to 5-year old children were able to read three sentence paragraphs. We have progressive video documentation of those four months. From May 2017 to now we have moved from nothing to more than 50 sites. Our goal is to have children start school reading and writing. Better yet, children start school when they can read and write. We are developing a Primary Grade curriculum to accommodate them. This is what we were able to build in rural Uganda and the slums of Nairobi. No money, no training, just a program that worked. The children and teachers were happy. Everyone could read. That is the way I would like to see New York schools.
A question
Children crawling around the floor know the meaning of the spoken word even though they cannot speak yet.Why does it take 5 years to teach the child to understand the written word?
Early Reading in the Cloud
A response to interestWe use Office 365 as a communication center for individuals in many African countries, but concentrating on Kenya and Uganda where our Early Reading sites are located. There are some reports on the Groups you join in your mailbox. It is like a LinkedIn business site for those who are interested in ESF. We have some great video of the children learning over a 4 month period.
ESF at Give Hope Uganda
, It is not very expensive to spread Early reading. We can do this directly especially speaking to public on special day can be very good opportunity to tell them about the current good news on teaching reading. I was invited on Menstruation Health Management Campaign day on 16/11/2018 by Give Hope Uganda C/O Kisubi Denis. Kindly watch brief video clip here: ESF at Give Hope Uganda Kind regards. Ozelle
Wonderful to hear about the growth of Early Reading.Early Reading should not be considered a strong foundation for first grade reading.  It is a replacement for First Grade reading. The child starts the first grade reading and writing. How do we use that to teach children about the world? That is primary education. And that is what we are learning to do. No one has ever done it before.
The next step
Early Reading has a goal of children reading and writing by the time they start school. But all that means is they have learned some tools to further their education. Primary school is to use those tools in teaching new material. They are using the tool in a concrete way. On a simple level: Ask a question and tell the student where to find the answer. Keep it simple. Common sense. Isigi, Once the children can do what the videos show. PreK children are ready for primary school, at any age. In primary teach them how to use reading and writing in many areas. Let children read about a topic (with dictionary help for new words), the teacher talks about the topic and asks questions. The children write their answers with access to all their work. Can they remember it? They do not remember the words, but where the words are located and read them. Learning can be a story telling game. That is one of the criteria for Secondary school. What do you want the child to know? That is a very big question with much diversity, world wide. And we will be the first to explore in Kenya, Uganda, and worldwide. Can we host a conference on the Primary School curriculum in both Kenya and Uganda and connected on the Internet with live video. It will be a fundraiser-educational blend with tax deductible donations paying the expenses. We have the entertainment part as another attraction to subscribe to the conference. But the most important part is the content of the Conference that will explore the curriculum of the 21st Century. From: Boss Isigi Sent: Tuesday, October 30, 2018 4:03:54 PM To: Seline Otieno; Robert Zenhausern; Shantideep Subject: Re: The Implications of Early Reading KINGPIN Embraces ER by practicing it in classroom teaching, our preschool graduate to primary reading. Population is increasing, and as population of children increase in our preschool, it means we shall have a large number of children in our lower primary. I am ready to learn how to expand early reading. Regards, Isigi. From: Seline Otieno Sent: Tuesday, October 30, 2018 10:05:26 PM To: Robert Zenhausern; Shantideep Subject: Re: The Implications of Early Reading It's true that early reading has already enabled all children that use ER in their schools Excel in reading and it will give them easy time in primary level.Which is now give teachers easy time in their lessons in Education 21st century. Interested indeed and let's all empress the system. Seline Otieno. From: Robert Zenhausern Sent: Tuesday, October 30, 2018 8:09:25 PM To: Shantideep Subject: The Implications of Early Reading The goal of Early Reading is Children Start School Reading. That leads to the biggest question for the 21st Century. What will a child learn in Primary School? As of now Primary School is predominately learning how to read write and calculate. ER students start school with those skills. How many of you are interested exploring the Education Curriculum for the 21st Century. To stop receiving messages from Shantideep group, stop following it.  
After Early Reading
This is a post I sent to the people in the Early Reading program.  It is a step in the evolution of Education for the 21st Century.Your personal expressions about Early Reading and its effectiveness in all areas. Isigi said from the first but I am just now understanding the implications. The goal of ER is child comes to school reading and writing. We have that goal within reach. But then what is the goal of Primary Education?  You have said the child is learning all areas faster. One reason is that the teacher has more time for other areas if they spend less time Reading. In addition the printed words to parallel what the teacher is saying and can serve as a reference. It can evolve into a notebook for the student. Make a volume of one page stories for the student to read. Then ask the students questions that are answered in the stories. It will become a game for the children and they will be learning to read as simply as learning to speak.  Are any of you interested in trying ideas with your students. Early Reading began when I was 7 years old and realized that I did not have visual imagery that everyone else had. I have no mind's eye. I cannot see pictures in my head. About 20 years later, I mentioned imagery to a graduate student and she surprised, and said "How do you think???" To her thinking meant pictures and for me thinking was more in words. That started a trail to dyslexia in 1983 that demonstrated the you can know the meaning of a word even though you could not say it. A long introduction to a question. Do you have visual imagery and what is it like. There is a wide diversity in visual imagery and it has direct implications for education.  If you are interested in exploring this, share what your imagery was like. I have spoken with many on this and there are surprising variations. 
Creative writing and speaking in Grade 1
One of the advantages of Early Reading is that there is time in Grade 1 to enhance the experience of children.  Here is a recent note to a volunteer interested in writing and speaking.==============================================I like what you have written. It fits into some ideas I have. We are in the midst of the Early Reading program with a goal of children starting school reading and writing. That frees time in primary school since the students already have the basic skills. This opens the door for your ideas on public speaking and creative writing in the First Grade. What would you teach children about poetry? How about creative speaking: A passage is read with the expression and understanding of the precise words. Compare that with someone who is a story teller. Narrates a passage based on meaning, not exact words.
Adult Literacy in Nairobi
An adult who cannot read has a poor self image and avoids the problem.  We are exploring a strategy based on Early Reading.  An educator asked how to Introduce Adult Eucation into the schools.  An expansion of my previous statement.===========================================You do not introduce adult literacy into the schools. You slip them into it. I assume you know people who cannot read. Talk to them about what you are doing in the school with slow readers. Let them understand the difference between reading for comprehension and reading aloud. Demonstrate Early Reading and show them they can read. Ask them to help out with the children This is the kind of strategy I might use in New York. You may have a different strategy in Nairobi, but you can achieve the same end.
Dealing with Adult Literacty
This is a note Dr.Z sent to those interested in adult literacy.I understand feeling illiterate and its stigma. Here is a simple question that is important in social research.   How many of the non readers were considered slow readers in school? We know Early Reading works with slow readers. That may not eliminate the privacy issue, but they can understand why they could not read aloud. And at the same time they could comprehend words. A little less stigma perhaps. Start a program for slow readers in school and have the illiterate adults help teach the children. This works from the heart in two ways. It eliminates the feeling of shame at not reading. The school was teaching him or her the wrong way. They know what it felt like in school and they will have empathy for the children in school. And they get a feeling of accomplishment. This may not happen overnight, but it can happen. I cannot tell you how to do it, but you will alter my words so they can understand.
Conference Bulletin
This is a magazine format for the Early Reading conference.
A personal history of the growth of Early Reading Cynaidah Mideva, Coordinator of ESF Kenya
The Peace Flame Network is located on an Office 365 Cloud.  All members belong to a Group call Shantideep and posts to that Group are meant for everyone.  I will post some of them here.   The first:The purpose of Early Reading was to teach children to read before they start school.  We have achieved that purpose.  13 schools have already registered for Early Reading with more than 1500 children.   There are more than 40 schools we know that have not yet registered.We know Early Reading will teach virtually all children to read and the children enjoy reading.  It is simple to learn and inexpensive to use.   For all of those reasons it will become the standard.   So now we have children who want to learn and can read and write.  Now what?? What will you teach in the first grade?  And beyond that, what is the role of Primary Education?  This is the ESF standard to move from Primary Education to Secondary Education.  Students will be able to search an information base and integrate findings in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. They now have the tools they need for Secondary Education Starting in Grade 1 we must prepare the students for that integrated report.  That is not something you must micro plan in advance.  The teachers will work out their own procedures, just like you did for Early Reading.  We are taking the next step before most had not taken the first step.  Do not worry about the cost of the technology.  We can convince the Ministry that the cost of computer for a child is less expensive than textbooks, audio visual presentations, testing, and special education.  We deserve funding for what we have done. And while we are waiting, there is much we can still do.    What is your role in all of this? 
Education 21. The whole story.
Our goal is not to fix education, but to rebuild it from the start. A Paradigm Shift. We do not want to bring technology into the classroom. We want the classroom to join the 21st Century. Our program, Education 21, emerges from three simple and logical changes. Each is a unique solution, and an unexpected challenge to well entrenched dogma. The Three Changes. Standardized Testing and Authentic Assessment In the US the push for education has stressed better scores on tests, not better education. From an International perspective, the United States students have scored just average. Does that mean we are “losing our lead”? During the last decade of the last 20th Century, the US won about 30 Nobel Prizes, and 60 in the first decade of this Century. In place of “teach, memorize, test”, we use Project Based Learning and Authentic Assessment. In Project Based Learning the student must know where to find specific information. How well can the student integrate information and complete a task. Authentic Assessment evaluates the project as Inadequate, Adequate, or Superior. Replace arithmetic with estimation. In the 19th Century arithmetic was indeed the “gateway” to the sciences and higher mathematics. Since the advent of calculators, that is no longer the case. Arithmetic is a linear rote process with a single answer. Estimation is unbounded and more conceptual. It is a practical skill in cases where close is good enough. We want to explore the limits of estimation, and its use as the fundamental calculator. The spreadsheet is the STEM platform it. It combines data analysis, text, graphics, and invisible arithmetic. Reading. Reading is a skill that suffers from a self-inflicted wound. The purpose of reading is to develop a connection between text and meaning. Education has decided that because English is a semi-phonetic language, reading should be taught by phonics. That is an epic blunder for two reasons: It is effective for only 80% of readers. The rest are called dyslexic. It postpones reading by at least 3 years, while the child learns phonetic decoding. How different speech! Children learn to speak and understand the spoken word as part of maturation. Why not reading. Show the printed word at the same time as the spoken word, and the child will understand both. Early Reading is a form of speed reading. Our structure is as unique as its missions. We exist only in the Cloud but facilitate social good organizations on the Ground. Cloud and Ground, blended. It was a model that appealed to many countries and sites and in December we used a nonprofit version of Office 365 which became our communication system across the many disparate areas. Expectations. Reading and writing will develop together with listening and speaking. Estimation will replace arithmetic and prove to be a valuable skill in game from playing to science. The money saved from the decrease in learning disability, and savings from eliminating testing will be used more productively Education 21 does not have a plan, but a strategy based on the three components outlined in Part 1. This strategy emerged from research on dyslexia in 1983 and has expanded to school systems using Education 21 in the primary grades. It is a long term and ongoing project. The latest Education 21 initiative began in May of 2017 at a meeting in Kampala. A demonstration project of 10 nursery school and the results were encouraging. The project continues and the school near Kampla primary grades and professional development. Most Early Reading sites are in Kenya. It started with four Day Care Centers in the slums of Nairobi and four other schools. Today, we have more than 50 confirmed sites, and the number is increasing as are the countries participating. We have developed the tools and techniques of Early Reading. There are videos showing diverse approaches and techniques the teachers. If the children are learning, we are doing well. Three goals are stated. Our hypothesis is that we will reach those goals. One goal is to expand writing skills. We will start with the same word cards as reading and ask the children to “tell a story” with them. Once the children have access to a keyboard, we will show them how to make words, using letters. Reading will not be taught as a subject. But lessons on specific topic areas with its vocabulary will sharpen reading and writing skills and add to their store of knowledge. We are exploring teaching reading in a native language at the same time as English. How many languages can a person learn? It has proven to be effective for adult literacy. A second goal is to introduce estimation as the primary means of human computation. We will start with basic estimation, guess the number tables with feedback. Estimation, however, is not be limited to 1 or 2 digits, but what is that limit? We will explore how accurately we can estimate and how well would it integrate with word problems. Estimation is self-taught. Guess an answer and get feedback. It is more like a game, and we plan to create estimation contests. Spreadsheets are beyond this preliminary proposal, but they are planned for the next stage. The third goal is to use project-based learning to teach and authentic assessment to evaluate what the student has learned. One approach is to use existing lesson plans and use the goals or objectives as projects. The teacher gives a lesson that includes files with infrmation and the students need to complete the project. The teacher then evaluates the projects. The project grew from nothing to a network of 40 sites in 10 months. This was done using pro bono workers, and minimal budget. With 18 months and funding, we will have developed a draft curriculum for primary education. We will have videotapes of our teaching approach along with the projects completed for every child. Our students will take the same exams given in their local area to be compared to traditional education.  


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May 2019
August 2018
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