I don’t think there is anything more frustrating, both for parent and child, then struggling with reading. It effects every subject there is, and in my opinion is the most important skill for children to learn in the early grades. That being said, I also feel that our Kindergarten and 1st graders are expected to know too much for their little minds, and so the need for that skill is exponentially increased.
Years ago the expectation was for them to know their alphabet in Kindergarten, and now they are expected to know 50+ sight words by the time they leave Kindergarten! As a mother of a child with vision problems including tracking and Visual Memory, this is a big deal! Sight words just don’t work for her, she needs to be able to work through the word with phonics. She knows some of them now, at almost the end of 1st grade, and its not for lack of trying, we can work through a word 5 times, come back a minute later and its like a new word to her. I used to honestly think she just wasn’t trying, and I would get so frustrated, but as I have learned more about her visual disability (yes, disability, I have only just come to realize how greatly this effects her) I have come to realize how hard it really is for her.
Visual impairment is obviously not the only thing that causes our kids to struggle with reading, other issues such as dyslexia and ADD, ADHD etc, come up as well. So what do we do when these problems arise? Mostly READ, read to them, and continue to read to them into the upper grade levels. Developing a love of reading, or a love of books is a great start. That is the one thing that we have going for us at this point in time, is That both of my children love to be read to, as well as listen to books on tape.
Apart from developing a love of reading there are many programs that I have seen suggested for struggling readers, most of these are not programs I have tried myself, but plan to implement some of them throughout our school year next year.
- Hooked on Phonics, so far we have used this program with success, I like that it incorporates a video lesson, so they are seeing and hearing the lesson. As well as practice, and finally reading, K.T. was very proud of herself when she completed her first book!
- Explode the Code
- Fast For Word (this is not in our budget)
- Alpha Phonics
- Logic of English
- Reading Eggs
Other things to consider while teaching reading are lighting (using full spectrum bulbs/natural lighting). Learning styles, are they auditory, or kinesthetic learners? Add in additional resources if they are, such as writing in sand, or bouncing a ball, while saying the letters out loud. Print size, colored overlays (try several and find which color works best), slant boards, or sound cancelling headphones (to reduce distractions) are other items that may help.
First and foremost, find out what is causing the struggle for your child, visit a Developmental Ophthalmologist, to rule out visual processing disorders, even if your child has 20/20 vision, they may have tracking or visual processing issues. Whatever it may be, it is better to know first, you may spend lots of time and money on programs for dyslexia, and find out that it is actually a visual processing disorder.
I will keep you updated as I find new programs, and as I try these programs, please if you have tried any of these let me know! Please comment below with thoughts and suggestions.