Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dusty asks...

I am a homeschooler, but have a deep respect for those with the capacity and love of teaching other's children. And am SUPER appreciative of everyone of you that shares your experiences and methods. My daughter is 5 and we believe she may be dyslexic. Her father is dyslexic and while we are not currently in a position to have her tested, she struggles a lot with reading simple words, often reading "pat" instead of "tap" (and even reading "21" instead of "12") and the like. Does anyone have experience teaching phonics to dyslexics and know of a good approach? I have been assembling a number of manipulatives and trying to compile some games, but everything seems to only frustrate her. We do well with all other subjects, math being her favorite. I just don't know if approaching phonics with her, assuming she may have the same struggles her father did, would help her. Her father was made to memorize everything as a site word. And he continues to struggle with unusual words. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!


  1. I don't know your daughter, but I want to say, "Don't panic." I want to reassure you that it is not uncommon for young children to reverse letters and numbers. I know that you are concerned that your daughter might have dyslexia because of your husband's history, but what you are seeing might be normal development. Keep in mind that we are not born automatically knowing to read left-to-right. We need to train our eyes and brain to do it.
    There are some little things you can do to help her. If you make word/letter/number cards, draw a smiley face with an arrow pointing towards the right in the upper left corner as a visual reminder to start reading from the left. Put one dot underneath each word in a sentence. Have your daughter track underneath the words by touching the dots as you read the sentence. When you are working with words, you can use the Elkonian boxes. As she is sounding out a word, have her put a counter (bean, coin, chip) in the first box for the first sound... Maybe highlight the first box so she knows to start with that box. If she is reversing letters b and d, many teachers have their students "make the bed" with their hands. You can say "b is bat, ball" and "c turns into d." One of my students remembered that he could see lowercase b inside of the capital B. He said the lowercase b was capital B's belly. I've heard of putting different-colored transparent overlays on top of the reading material helps some students.
    Some students make reversals when writing because they don't start the letters correctly. When she is learning to form letters, it helps if you have her say the different strokes as she is making the letter. Students who start both b and d with a pull-down stroke get confused. It helps if b is "pull-down straight, circle forward" and d starts "circle back, push up, pull-down straight." Remember that it takes time and practice.
    Young children learn best through play. You can have her trace the letter in sand, shaving cream, pudding in a plastic bag, fingerpaint...She can make the letter with play-doh, wikki stix (Benderoos)... You can trace the letter on her hand or on her back with your finger.
    All children are different. What works with one child, may not work with another child. The more senses/modalities you involve, the better. Many young children love to sing and need to move around. When we are learning letters/sounds, we have a song we sing with the letter name, hand sign, cue word and action for each letter. Dr. Jean has some wonderful songs. We learn to distinguish which letters are tall, short and drop-down letters. When we say the alphabet, we "exercise" each letter-reaching for the sky for tall letters, hands on waist for short letters and touch the ground for drop-down letters. Sometimes it helps to draw a box around the word to show its shape; however, some words like "an" and "in" have the same shape.
    The teen numbers are very tricky for young learners. They don't make sense and sound right. So it is not uncommon for a child to confuse "12" and "21."
    Be patient and encouraging. If she is getting frustrated, take a little break. Neither of you will benefit by trying to push her when she is frustrated.
    I hope this helps you a little bit. Continue to keep an eye on her, but many school districts do not consider it a problem unless she is 7-8 years old, consistently reversing and it impacts her learning.

  2. What an awesome comment, Fran! Thanks for sharing all of that! :) I totally agree with you that some of these things are not uncommon for most kids that age. I know we don't typically screen for dyslexia at my school until 2nd grade.

    I also wanted to share this blog- Confessions of a Homeschooler
    It's awesome! I've found tons of printables and ideas that I plan on using in my classroom.

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