The 100 EL is a direct instruction program. This means that the teacher's dialogue is scripted. The sessions are designed to take 20 minutes per day. We found them to take 15 to 30 minutes a day. If it takes any longer, I recommend to stop using the program for a few weeks to let things "jell" then go back to it. I did this periodically with both children and they did not forget any of the previous material when we went back to it.
If your child is a cuddler and loves to be read to while sitting in your lap this is an excellent program. I often thought of our schooling not as home school but as lap school. I have a nephew who was not a cuddler and did not like to sit still and be read to. His mother tried this program on him and it was a constant battle which they soon gave up.
The 100 EL uses only itself (just a book), you and the child. There are no additional workbooks, tapes or other falderal to cost you money and waste time. It is extremely easy to use. Just sit down with your child, open the book and begin reading. There is no lesson planning involved. The sounds of the letters are taught first and the names are taught only at the end. This is consistent with recommended phonics teaching. By lesson 9 the child begins to sound out written words.
An example, the sound of m has already been taught, the sound of e has been taught, I quote,"1. Touch the first ball for me. I'm going to sound out this word. then you'll say it fast. (Point to ball under m). 2.What's the first sound I'm going to say. (Touch for two seconds). (Student should say mmm (release) Point to ball under e) What's the next sound I'm going to say? (Touch for two seconds) (student should say eee). 3. Return to first ball. My turn to sound it out. (Touch under m and e as you say "mmmeee" (return to first ball) Say it fast. (Slide quickly to end of arrow.) me. 4. (Touch first ball) You're going to sound out this word, then say it fast. Sound it out. Get ready (Touch under m and e as child says mmmeee without pausing between sounds. Repeat until firm.) (Return to first ball) Say it fast (Slide to end of arrow.) me". As you can see it uses a stimulus-response method.
It progresses quickly from words to sentences to stories (all contained in the book). By the end the student is usually reading on a solid 2nd grade level. With my first daughter we did the first half in kindergarten, the second half in 1st grade concurrent with another program (The Hewitt easy readers). My second daughter did it all in kindergarten. She is an exceptionally eager reader however and now, at 6 is reading books such as "Charlotte's Web" (her current favorite).
I follow up the 100 EL with The Writing Road To Reading used along with Teaching Reading At Home which is a supplement to TWRTR. It organizes the material so it is easier to use. The 100 EL is a good background for TWRTR in my opinion. I got the idea from Berquist's Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum.