Nancy Young

Educational Consultant (Reading/Spelling/Writing)


Hanging in the balance: An engaging and interactive session on why many “balanced” literacy programs are unbalanced

Many schools describe their literacy programs as balanced. Sadly, unbeknownst to teachers and leadership, such instruction is often unbalanced due to poor teacher training and vague curriculums. This session will begin with an overview of the range of ease in reading acquisition using the Ladder of Reading, N. Young 2017, and the “Big 5” instructional components that the reading science has shown to be essential. I will review which components are insufficiently addressed in (or missing from) many classrooms and present ways to balance instruction, strategies and materials from the foundational stages. Throughout the session, I will refer to the importance of a structured literacy approach for students at risk (dyslexia, ELL, impoverished environment), particularly systematic phonics instruction. I’ll also point out the advantages of a structured literacy approach for children learning to read/spell/write more effortlessly. I will wrap up the session with some skill-based movements to help participants experience how learning and practicing the components of the English code can be fascinating and fun for both learner and teacher!


Nancy Young is an experienced educator with extensive knowledge of evidence-based reading/spelling/writing instruction, both for the general classroom and for intervention. Nancy’s areas of specialty include dyslexia, ADHD, giftedness, and ELL. Based in British Columbia, Nancy provides professional development for teachers and provides a variety of consulting services for schools and parents across Canada. Nancy is the author of Secret Code Actions™: A Resource to Support Learning to Read and Spell the English Language (Teacher Edition and Parent Edition) and the author of the Ladder of Reading.


Evidence-based Reading Instruction Kindergarten Through Grade 3 – Why Many “Balanced” Literacy Programs are Unbalanced

This presentation will highlight:

  • Learning to read is not natural
  • All students must climb the “Ladder of Reading” but there exists a wide range in ease of reading acquisition (irrespective of intellect) which affects instruction
  • Five essential components underlie evidence-based reading instruction
  • Structured literacy – crucial for children with dyslexia and advantageous for all
  • Some examples of ineffective strategies widely used in “unbalanced” literacy programs across Canada
  • What is insufficient/missing/needed in many Canadian schools
  • How code-based movement can be used to enhance instruction and provide the extensive practice children with dyslexia need, while enabling all children to move more (and maximize the daily physical activity mandated in some provinces)
  • The need for teacher training on evidence-based reading instruction in Canada