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The Downley School

“Learning, Growing and Succeeding Together”

Toe by Toe - Literacy Primer

What is Toe by Toe?

Toe by Toe is a multi-sensory reading manual for teachers and parents.  The name Toe by Toe was chosen to signify that a student makes progress by the tiniest steps - one toe at a time.  However, even though the steps taken are small, the student can clearly measure his or her progress right from the first page.  The student's confidence and self-esteem are boosted as a result. 

The unique syllable division employed by Toe by Toe is very easy to use though it is not the syllable division generally used for the teaching of reading.  Once the sound of a phoneme has been taught using the 'polynons' (nonsense words), these rules can then be applied to any multi-syllabic word and students find a whole new world of reading opening before their eyes. 

Who can benefit from using Toe by Toe?

No matter what the nature of the student's literacy problem, they can be taught to read using Toe by Toe.  The severity of their problem may only be reflected in the length of time needed to get through the book.  Indeed, if the system is used with a 'non-dyslexic' child (i.e. one without learning difficulties) the rapid improvement in reading age is truly astonishing.

Why does my child not use this program in school?

In line with the graduated response (as outlined in the SEN Code of Practice), Toe by Toe is often reserved for those children for whom other Literacy interventions have not been successful.  This is because it requires dedicated one to one time with a Learning Support Assistant and often resources are limited.  Toe by Toe is reserved for children with specific difficulties in Literacy or those who have dyslexia.  

Can we support by doing Toe by Toe at home?


Over 25 years of fieldwork went into the development of the system and it is this research which makes the method so easy to use.  You don't have to be trained in any field of Education to tutor with Toe by Toe.  In fact, the manual often works better with non-professionals using it as they do not come to the task with any pre-conceived notions and thus simply follow the very detailed instructions to the letter.

Toe by Toe can be bought direct from the following website: