Persevering in the Face of Reading Challenges – Part 2
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I’m not a reading expert. I’m not even a seasoned homeschooler. Many experienced moms will tell you that sometimes you just need to give your child more time and let them discover reading on their own. However, if for whatever reason you find yourself in a season where formal reading lessons are the right choice for your child, I would like to share the resources that we have found to be helpful on this reading journey.
Then, what we do is try to check these 5 boxes on a daily or at least weekly basis:
The 5 boxes to check:
- Read Alouds
- Partner Reading
- Phonemic Awareness
- Sight Words
- Read Alouds:
Everyday we make sure to check this box. It’s the easiest one to check and arguably the most important. I read to my kids during meal times and before bed. We also listen to audiobooks in the car. Check out the Read Aloud Revival for book lists.
- Partner Reading:
This was one of the best things we did in our homeschool. I pulled out some Dr. Seuss books, underlined some of the words that I knew my son could read, and read it aloud during snack time. When I came to an underlined word my son would read it. The next time we read that book I underlined a few more words, until eventually he was reading the whole book. Sure part of it was memorization, but that’s fine because he’s building fluency and most importantly confidence. Partner Reading allowed us to read books that were filled with words beyond his reading level. Here is a list of our favorite books for partner reading:
I Like To Read series (affiliate): See Me Dig, See Me Run, and Little Ducks Go were some of our favorites.
Dr Seuss books (affiliate): Ten Apples Up On Top was our favorite.
Jan Thomas books (affiliate)
Fly Guy series (affiliate)
Captain Underpants and Dog Man by Dav Pilkey
- Phonemic Awareness:
Phonemic awareness is the ability to identify and manipulate the individual sounds in spoken words. For us the key here is to play games that do not require looking at written words or letters at all. It gives us a break from actual reading, while still working on reading skills. Phonemic awareness games might involve pictures of objects and figuring out which ones rhyme, or which ones start with the same sound, etc. Here is a resource that we used from Lakeshore Learning, but you could easily check this box without any resources at all. Don’t underestimate it’s value though, I was surprised at how difficult it was for my son to do simple rhyming activities or to identify the sound in the middle or end of a word.
- Sight Words:
Sounding out words is very difficult for my son, so in some ways he really prefers sight words. Our favorite resources for sight words are:
I See I Spell I Learn picture flash cards: We love these cards and they have made a huge difference. We usually put these on the stairs and my son reads them as he goes up the stairs. Eventually we switch to plain index cards without the pictures.
Sight Words Handwriting Book Bundle: We put these in plastic page protectors and do them with dry erase markers.
Oh man, I saved this one for last for a reason. This is the hardest box to check, at least it is for us. If this area of reading is causing tears and frustration you might want to wait on it, or consider outsourcing it in some way by hiring a tutor or using an online program. We are currently doing a combination of all three. Once a week my son sees a tutor, the other days I work with him, and we supplement with videos and games that I will list below. There are a lot of options out there for phonics based reading curriculums, but be sure to look for one that is Orton-Gillingham based, and/or recommended for dyslexic readers. Basically you need a curriculum that teaches each and every phonics rule explicitly and in a multisensory way. Here’s what has worked for us:
Handwriting Without Tears: Not phonics, but a great way to learn letters that is multisensory.
Zoo Phonics: We did not use their whole system, just the alphabet flashcards to learn the most common sound that each letter makes. Again, very multisensory.
All About Reading: Curriculum, readers, magnetic letter tiles, and app.
Primary Phonics Storybooks: The workbooks look good as well, but we have only used the storybooks. My son doesn’t love these books, but they are nice for reading practice.
High Noon Books: Check out the “Phonic Books Series”, the stories and illustrations are much more interesting than typical easy readers and will appeal to older children.
Nessy Learning Programs, YouTube channel, and Apps. We are currently using Nessy Reading and Spelling and it is our favorite curriculum so far.
Touch Type Read and Spell : We are currently using this to supplement our Nessy curriculum. It is a typing program specifically geared toward dyslexic students that also helps with reading and spelling. TTRS also has a blog with some helpful articles.
Teach Your Monster To Read: Game/App
Color coded letter tiles: We received plain tiles as hand-me-downs from a friend, and I just colored them with crayons and used a sharpie to make tiles with more than one letter. But these look good as well.
Some last thoughts:
If you like checking boxes like I do, I hope this is helpful to you, but if you or your child find this list to be overwhelming, just stick with read alouds and sprinkle in the occasional partner read or phonemic awareness game. While some children leap straight to the top of this reading mountain, for others it’s a slow climb. And still many may sit and contemplate at the bottom of the mountain for a while before inventing a novel way up that none of us ever thought of before! Either way I hope your journey is filled with joy and the occasional break to enjoy the view and appreciate the amazing little person by your side.
Did you miss Part 1 of Persevering in the Face of Reading Challenges?