Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Teaching a Dyslexic Child to Read & Spell

Marianne Sunderland is mom to eight children, seven of whom have dyslexia. After a number of years driving to dyslexic tutoring appointments for her children, who have varying degrees of dyslexia (some with ADHD or ADD), she decided it would be easier for her to get trained and certified as an Orton-Gillingham Reading Tutor, so she could teach her already homeschooled children at home (she has twenty years of homeschooling under her belt).

Marianne's Homeschooling With Dyslexia blog, introduced to me by Tesha, has been such a wealth of information. If you even suspect your child may be affected by dyslexia, I recommend that you peruse her sight.

The Orton-Gillingham method is not a curriculum, but a collection of proven teaching practices that work best with the dyslexic student. No matter what curriculum you choose, it needs to include these attributes to best serve the dyslexic child (or any struggling reader):

~ Personalized (Adjusting everything to the child you are teaching, based upon the child's strengths, weaknesses, and preferred learning style. Ideally, dyslexics shouldn't be taught in groups, but individually.)

~ Multi-sensory (Using sight, feel, movement, and listening, all at the same time)

~ Direct and Explicit (Don't assume the child will infer anything--teach every aspect of the process)

~ Systematic (Use the same order and method to teach every new concept)

~ Sequential and Cumulative (Only present words in their reading that have patterns or sounds that have been taught. Start with the simplest, and move to the complex, only after mastery.)

~ Synthetic and Analytical (Synthetic means to teach sounds, and then teach how they can be put together to form words. Analytical means to present a word, and teach how to break it apart into its individual sounds. Go both directions for the learning to really stick.)

These attributes are the basis of the Orton-Gillingham approach.

Curriculum that include these attributes include:

For Older Children - Reading Horizons

Marianne Sunderland has written a five-part series on teaching the dyslexic child to read. Here are her posts, all outstanding.

Building Fluency in Dyslexic Readers

The founder of All About Learning Press, Marie Rippel, also a certified Orton-Gillingham instructor, wrote this post on her blog: Using Dictation to Improve Spelling. She also wrote: How Can I Help My Child With Spelling Dictation? Both articles are excellent, as is the blog Marie Rippel maintains on her website.

My daughter Mary, who just turned eight, was slow to learn to read in the past, after initially mastering all her sounds and learning to decode three-letter words and short-vowel words with blends, all without incident. Everything beyond these beginning skills proved very difficult for her.

Reading in the All About Reading Level 2 reader (on a cold January morning. :)

All About Reading game with /ar/ words

All About Reading practice cards with /ar/ words

All About Reading magnet letter board, used in most of the All About Reading and All About Spelling lessons. New sounds and syllable types and words are introduced and practiced this way.
However, this month I've seen fluent reading and her confidence has soared! She can pick up her All About Reading reader and read all the past stories with remarkable fluency, compared to her first day with the program in late September, 2014. I'm one grateful mother and now, one informed teacher, thanks to Marianne Sunderland and Marie Rippel.

Like Marianne does for her children, I modified the All About Reading program to include more practice. Mary was required to read all the stories we'd been through over and over, on different days, different sittings. I can't say she was happy with me, but she did it, and as long as it wasn't a new story, she could do it without my help. I believe this extra repetition was key in building the fluency she's lacked the last few years.

Both Mary and Peter have many signs of dyslexia, but Peter learned to read far easier, with only sight words becoming a stumbling block. He read fluently at about the same time as Mary--eight years old. Peter also has dysgraphia (difficulty with handwriting, spelling, and organizing thoughts on paper), which is common in dyslexics, but Mary prints and writes without difficulty.

Mary also has extreme difficulty learning her numbers to 100, and Peter did too, to a lesser extent. Mary's difficulty with numbers could be part of her dyslexia, or it could be dyscalculia--I'm just not sure yet. I do know Peter struggles with dyscalculia (math disability similar to dyslexia, but it can be present without dyslexia).

I will continue to write on the topic of learning disabilities, sharing with you what I'm learning along this journey. Do you have any concerns about your young readers?


Tesha Papik said...

Thats funny to see because we are dong the same stuff! My kids do not really like the magnet boards and there always seems to be a piece missing:/ We are seeing improvement with Jadon this year, he is getting help from our charter school because he did test with a disability. I am so relived to have some help with him! Sahyla is doing AMAZING I can not believe how fast she is learning to read maybe it is just because it was such a struggle with Jadon. However she can not remember her numbers 1-10 AT ALL...I find it strange she learned the alphabet and all the sounds so quickly but can not remember 10 numbers. I am curious how you taught numbers to your kids that have struggled?

I am not sure if you are on Facebook but Marianne has a great page where you can ask question!

Hope things are going better at home and you are feeling refreshed!

Christine said...

Mary still struggles with numbers and sometimes I feel like pulling my hair out during math, but I have to keep a warm,kind,patient face the whole time! I usually need some chocolate afterwards. :)

Peter got them with just more time, not special materials or methods.

Did you see the video Marianne posted about how to teach sight words (part of five day series on teaching reading)? I think the same method would work perfectly with numbers--saying it, tapping it, writing it, and perhaps manipulating it with number tiles or something similar. For Mary it is not so much a conceptual problem with the numbers, as it is remembering which comes first in double-digit numbers, and which way to face the numbers when she prints them (she still has many reversals). Handwriting Without Tears comes with small chalkboards with a smile face at the top left, called the starting corner, and it teaches the numbers 1 to 9 using the chalkboards (and handwriting workbooks which include numbers). There are starting-corner numbers, which include everything but 8 and 9. This helps them remember how to form them. I can't explain it well here, though. Check the Handwriting Without Tears website and get a kindergarten handwriting workbook, and you will see how she teaches the numbers. Also buy the chalkboards and chalk bits. The website will explain what you need. Handwriting Without Tears uses a multi-sensory approach.

Both my girls have a $1 calendar from the dollar store--Sophia the First and Doc McStuffins. I use the calendars every lesson with them to ask questions about the numbers (what do all the teens start with...), and to help them learn how to read a calendar (days, months, dates are hard for dyslexics), and to say and touch the numbers while they count them, and then find them out of order. I figure if they can master 1 - 30 well, the other numbers 1 - 100 will get easier.

I am going to incorporate some more multisensory to help Mary--such as shaving cream, and numbers with texture on them. I have to go looking on the Internet for textured numbers..maybe at a special needs site, or make them.

Sorry...I am still learning myself about difficulty with numbers.

Christine said...

Tesha, I had a little more time to think about your question, and I think it will probably take a slow, systematic approach in which we choose one number at a time and only move on to another when the previous one is mastered, and then continue to review the mastered ones, just like Marie Rippel does with the All About Reading program. We could make up cards with the numbers on them and file them behind "review", "mastered", and "future lessons". And when we practice each number, we can do it in the air, on the arm, on the table with shaving cream or in a pan of dry rice, or on a chalkboard, or paper, etc. Whatever we choose, we should use the same approach and sequence with each number we teach.

Mary confuses 8 and 9, and has trouble with all the teens, and with 11 and 12. She has trouble with the 20's and 50's because twenty doesn't sound like 2, and 50 doesn't sound much like 5. Whereas 60 sounds like six, and 70 sounds like seven. Her Saxon math introduces one number at a time, but there isn't sufficient review and you move pretty fast through the numbers (one new one a day). Hope this helps. As I said I think about it a lot and am still developing a strategy myself, as I learn how to teach special-needs students.

Christine said...

Tesha, I do hope you find these comments. I want to add that I read an article on Marie Rippel's site about The Funnel Concept, discussing memory and why kids don't retain information, or why they only pick up fragments of a lesson. She is doing a series on memory and how it affects learning. We have the opportunity to maximimze our child's memory using certain methods. Here is the link to one of her posts in the series, and it gives the dates she will post the others. It may help us teach our kiddos their numbers so they will stick.


Amber said...

A great post. Thanks for sharing the information.
Sounds like it works well for you all.
Hope you all are doing well.

Tesha Papik said...

Yes I always check back here because I know you answer! Thanks for the great advice as always! I think I was feeling so blessed that she picked up letters so fast that I got away with out having to do all the "extra stuff":) But she need more to learn her numbers. I do have handwriting without tears but did not get the chalkboard. I will have to order that! One last question how long do you spend on Math for Mary a day? Shayla likes reading and will do it a long while with no complaints but as soon as we sit down to math she wants to stop. I am using Math U See which is multi sensory but they encourage parents to only make the child do as many pages as they want and it is SLOW going for us. I love the idea of a personal calendar!! Shayla is always asking me what day it is, I think she would love her own little calendar! Thanks for all the tips you really are a wonderful encouragement to me!