Recipe for Reading Success in 5 Steps.
1 patient adult
1 reading checklist
1 reading plan
You will need to know the three processes which your child needs to be able to do to become a fluent reader ( these are looked at in more detail below).
Next, take your reading checklist ( available from my Facebook group) and discover which of the processes your child is having difficulty with.
Once you have acknowledged where the problems are, you can start to work out the best way to help your child.
Use the reading plan template (available from my Facebook group) to help put together what activities you need to do and the time you will spend on this activity.
Make sure you allow for plenty of repetition so that your child can start storing the information they need to read fluently in their long term memory. Never forget that working memory hinders their ability to take in the learning.
The Three Processes which make a Child a Reader.
They must be able to identify letters by their shape and the sounds the individual letters make.
They must be able to map sounds onto combinations of letters, for example train, and be able to differentiate speech sounds so that they know when one word ends and another starts
They must understand what they have read.
Identifying Letter Shapes
Most children can recognise the 26 letters of the alphabet after some practice.
Some children confuse certain letters, particularly b and d and others which look similar such as p and q. There are lots of good resources out there to help such as the ones below:
Mapping Sounds onto Letters
This is a key difficulty for dyslexic students. Here, you need to know what sounds are represented by combinations of letters. There are 44 different sounds in the English language, which are made up by using the 26 letters of the alphabet. It would be a lot easier if we had 44 letters but unfortunately we don’t!
The first thing to check is that your child knows the sounds that individual letters of the alphabet make.Every time I check this with a new student (ranging between 6 and 16 years old), there are always a few of the letters that they don’t know.
There are many programmes available which will teach a child how the letters are put together for the different sounds ( Jolly Phonics, Nessy to name a few). It is well worth investing time and effort into these programmes to help your child read better.
The other side of this problem is that dyslexic children may not ‘hear’ when a word starts and finishes. This means that they won’t be able to tell you when a word starts (or identify its start sound) or tell when a word ends (or tell you the end sound). They may also not be able to manipulate sounds in words because they are not hearing the speech sounds ( for example tell you what word you have if you take away the ‘r’ sound in ‘stream’). To rectify this, you will need to follow a phonological programme such as the ‘Sound Linkage’ programme.
The final part to being a reader is being able to understand what you have read. To comfortably understand a piece of text, you need to know about 98% of the words on the page, which means that about 1 or 2 words per paragraph will be unknown. You also need to understand the links between sentences , for example:
‘The weather is sunny today. I will wear shorts and a t-shirt’
In this example, you are linking the first sentence about it being sunny to the second sentence which is telling you what I’ll be wearing. Another example is:
‘ Ben was stung by a wasp. His Dad ran to the medicine cabinet.’
In this example, we understand that Dad is running off to get some cream to stop the sting from hurting Ben – even though the sentence doesn’t say this.
A dyslexic child will not always make the connections between sentences or be able to infer information which is not there. To help them do this, they will need to follow a good comprehension programme which helps them to make mental pictures when they read. You may also need to help them develop their vocabulary so that they will recognise a lot of words they read. The best way to do this is by reading, which, don’t forget, can be reading that you do together.
When your child has mastered these three areas then they will be a better and fluent reader. In my mind, the difference for dyslexic children is that they need to be taught these skills explicitly, need a lot more repetition and can’t just ‘pick them up’ as others seem to do.
Would you like more support and advice from me? Click here to join my Facebook group today.
If you would like to learn more about dyslexia and how it affects reading you can click here to enroll in my online courses about this.
If you would like to discuss your concerns about your child with a consultancy meeting then please contact me for further details.
L Willingham ‘Raising Kids who Read’ , Wiley and Sons..