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The Maloney Method: What Is It And Is It Right For Me?

maloneyWhat if a particular educational philosophy guaranteed your child two years of progress in just one year? The Maloney Method has been used in many learning centers and schools throughout the U.S. and Canada with striking results. Even at-risk kids and kids identified with learning disabilities make significant academic gains with this program. In recent years, the method has been adapted for homeschoolers, who have also enjoyed strong academic success.

If you’re the type of homeschooling parent that needs measurable goals and results, then the Maloney method might be what you’re looking for. Read on to learn more about this approach.

History Of The Maloney Method

Michael Maloney started his teaching career teaching high-school history and geography. He routinely was given some of the toughest students—those who had never learned to read fluently and were falling behind in school. Maloney wanted to help these kids but became increasingly frustrated by a lack of support from administrators. He finally quit teaching and went back to graduate school.

Later, he returned to the public schools as a behavioral consultant. He developed a program for turning around academic failure based on strong research about how children learn. His students achieved remarkable academic growth, but when school administrators decided to disband the program, Maloney set out on his own.

Over the next few years, he developed more than twenty private schools and learning centers designed specifically for children who were significantly behind in school. Students in his schools gained, on average, two years of growth in one year. At the same time, he developed Math Tutor, a software system that teaches basic math concepts, from arithmetic to algebra. He also published Teach Your Children Well, a book for parents based on his methods. It quickly became a best seller. A later series, Teach Your Children to Read Well, was marketed at homeschooling conferences, where it met with great success.

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Maloney identifies five components of his approach, which are outlined below.

Learning Outcomes/Behavioral Objectives

Maloney asserts that you’ll never get where you want to go if you don’t know upfront what your destination is. He insists on a set of written outcomes that describe measurable goals. For example, one reading outcome might be, “The student reads aloud at 200 words per minute with no more than two errors.” It sounds fairly clinical, but these sorts of objectives are easy to measure and provide clear evidence of progress.

Student Management/Behavior Analysis

Maloney believes that children must clearly understand rules and expectations. In his classrooms, his rules are 1) Work quickly and quietly, 2) Bring all of your materials, 3) Keep your hands and your feet to yourself, 4) Say only good things, and 5) Raise your hand to address the group.

His approach for handling misbehavior is to praise children who are on-task while ignoring misbehaviors. This approach slowly encourages children to choose positive behaviors over negative ones.

Scripting/Direct Instruction

Teachers use scripts, found in Maloney’s curriculum materials, to guide instruction. Teachers know exactly what to say, and students know how to respond. Teachers also use direct instruction, which relies on the following sequence—the teacher models the task, the student performs the task with the teacher, and the student practices the task alone.

Measurement/Precision Teaching

Once teachers have taught a specific skill, it’s time to assess for true learning. Maloney typically uses a timed test to see if students have mastered a specific skill. If students fail the test, teachers determine the area of weakness and reteach to address weaknesses. After reteaching, students are tested again.


Once students have been taught a skill, they’re allowed to practice to reinforce learning. Students practice with the teacher initially and then independently later on. This practice time cements skills in a child’s mind.

Benefits And Drawbacks Of the Maloney Method

The Maloney Method appeals to many homeschooling parents concerned with academic progress. It provides clear roadmaps, and parents know immediately if a child is progressing or falling behind. The Maloney Method offers a scripted curriculum so parents know exactly what to do. The program is often very effective for struggling learners or children with special needs.

On the other hand, many parents and children will find this program too regimented for their tastes. Some argue that its task-focused approach takes the joy and creativity out of learning. Others find some of the stories and content in the curriculum objectionable or inappropriate for young children. The Maloney Method is a secular program, so parents may need to supplement these lessons with character-building or Bible-based teachings if they desire.


If you’re interested in the Maloney Method, you’re first step is to read his book Teach Your Children Well. You’ll want to get the Teach Your Children to Read Well series, which is available for grades K through 6. This series comes with an instructor’s manual, which includes scripted lessons telling you exactly what to say, as well as a student workbook with handwriting practice, crosswords, mazes, and word scrambles. The workbook also contains charts to record your child’s daily student measurements, as well as a points chart, which analyzes overall data.

Each grade level also includes a student reader, which includes short fiction and non-fiction stories to encourage reading fluency. If you’ve used the DISTAR method, which includes the popular book, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, you’ll instantly understand and feel comfortable with this method, which resembles the DISTAR program in many ways.

Online, visit Michael Maloney’s site for more information about both his homeschooling program and his training center. The site offers products and lists the impressive results of over forty years of academic training. Home School World also offers an extensive article on Michael Maloney.

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