Tips to Help Struggling Readers and Spellers
- Cover pictures. Many young students struggle with the left-to-right eye movement of reading. Allow students to look at the pictures, then cover them with a blank sheet of paper while reading. Covering pictures makes it easier to focus on text.
- Practice blending words together aloud. Many students guess wildly while reading because they've never realized words are made of individual sounds blended together. Put away the books and practice saying words aloud with a space between each sound. (k-a-t) Then ask the child to blend the word back together.
- Explain that writing is a code. Many students guess at words because they haven't realized that letters and groups of letters represent sounds.
- Teach all the sounds. Many letters say more than one sound. For example, the letter S sounds different in the word "sad" than in the word "is." Many students misread simple words because they don't know all the sounds.
- Make it fun. Learning the basics doesn't need to be boring. Engage young children through play. Practice the phonograms with games, large motor activities and art projects.
- Teach all nine "Silent E" rules. Many students know only one reason for a silent final E -- the vowel says its name because of the "E." This explains words like "game" and "ripe," but leaves many kids struggling to read "have" and "give." Learning the nine reasons, including English words do not end in V, prevents students from needing to memorize thousands of exceptions.
- Stop Torture Reading. Put away books for a short time and focus instead on learning the 75 phonograms and 31 spelling rules. Many parents and teachers are afraid to take a break from books, but students who do not know the basic tools to decode words find reading akin to torture and only become increasingly discouraged. Their time is better spent learning a logical explanation for 98% of English words, then approaching reading with a fresh start.
- Find answers. Too often we answer questions about reading with "that is an exception." This frustrates many bright students and discourages them from reading. Rather than dismissing words as exceptions, look for answers and explanations. English is more logical than most Americans think.
- Answers to questions about English reading and spelling can be found in Uncovering the Logic of English and by visiting LogicOfEnglish.com.