This is a great game for pre-readers who have mastered the alphabet and are ready to start reading easy words. It's fantastic not only because kids love it, but also because it gives kids a chance to learn reading through writing.
It also allows you to see whether or not they understand what they’re reading without the tediousness of reading aloud.
- Standard paper, cut into fourths. Make lines on the bottom of third of the paper for writing the word. It should like the paper kindergartners use to practice their writing. The top half should be blank, to leave space for your child to draw pictures.
How to Play
1. Choose a word. Sound out the word carefully. As you sound out each letter, write it down on the lined paper. Place the paper so that your child can watch you write the word.
2. Have your child copy the word on their paper. Then they can draw a picture of the word on the top half of the paper. You can make it exciting for your child by letting her use special markers.
Technically your child is not reading, but writing. They only recognize the word because it was dictated to them. However, this gives your child an excellent way to learn how words are segmented, how letters are written, and helps them the written word with its’ meaning.
If you play this game regularly, your child will quickly get the hang of things, and will begin sounding out words on her own.
There’s a war going on in a lot of schools, and it ain’t pretty. By war I mean the tired argument about the best way to teach kids, especially LD kids, to read.
And while it may be nice to believe that schools have your child’s best interests at heart, experience has shown again and again that schools are institutions that cater to the group, and not necessarily to the individual child.
Maybe you’re lucky, and your child is in one of the few schools that is insistent on making sure every single one of their children learns to read, no matter what it takes. Unfortunately, however, there are too many schools out there who are unwilling to do what needs to be done in order to make sure your LD child learns to read.
If you hear staff at your child’s school spout one of the following lies, take note, and teach your child to read yourself (I’ll share with you in a later post the best way to do that). Here’s the list:
Lie #1: They’re not ready yet.
This is school-ease for: we don’t know how to teach your child to read.
If your child is over the age of 5, they need to be taught to read. Waiting longer than that means it will just take that much longer for your child to catch up with the rest of the class. While the school waits for your child to be ready, they’ll just fall further and further behind, until it becomes almost impossible for your child to catch up.
Research has shown that kids who don’t learn to read well by third grade are four times more likely to drop out of school than their peers.
You don’t have time to wait for your child to learn to read well.
Lie #2: We’re using an explicit, systematic phonics program – it’s the best way to teach your child to read.
Actually, while research agrees that teaching children phonics is an important component of teaching reading, there is no research that shows which kind of program is best, despite what publishers of popular phonics programs may claim.
Nor is there conclusive research that proves what the best sequence is to teach phonics, nor how often it needs to be taught in order to make sure kids learn now to decode efficiently.
The truth is that different kids learn differently. Of my 8 children, one taught himself to read at the age of 3, another seemed to pick it up intuitively with very little teaching, and one knew only 6 letters while the rest of his class read fluently.
How well a particular learning disabled child learns to read will depend greatly on their learning profile. If they have trouble remembering what they hear, for example, then using phonics exclusively will be devastating for them.
On the other hand, if they have trouble remembering what they see, then sight words will have you both crying at the end of the day.
Lie #3: Kids can acquire good reading skills by reading meaningful literature.
This is only partially true. While children can acquire some reading skills by reading quality literature, they can’t learn to read just by reading. While whole language methods sound great, they are not enough to teach any child to read, much less a child with learning disabilities.
People have been arguing about the best way to teach children to read for more than 50 years. For the moment it’s phonics – until some variation of whole language rears its head again, after test scores from years of phonics-dosed children shows more dismal reading scores.
Statistics show that the best method of teaching children to read involves a mix of everything: good literature, phonics, and whole language.
What difference does it make what schools say?
The fact is that no one method is best for teaching children - especially LD children to read. We do know, however, that the best methods use multisensory, systematic instruction to teach children to read. But one child may do best with Orton-Gillingham, while another might only catch onto reading when taught the Montessori way.
Instead, some schools insist on using methods that don't work, simply because that's the way the wind was blowing that year. That's unacceptable, especially since we know how critical good reading is for school (and life) success.
Yes, maybe some people have managed without being able to read well, but that's not a best-case scenario. It may not be exciting, but the facts speak for themselves: no single intervention will work for all children.
If you want your child to learn to read – and ultimately it is your responsibility – you might just have to search and try out different methods until you find one that works for your child.
Winter break is coming up, and I’m betting a lot of parents out there are plan on working on reading comprehension activities with your child.
Improving your child’s reading comprehension doesn’t have to be a month long odyssey in Worksheet Hell.
Let me guess: you’ve got your fancy-shmancy workbook, assorted writing supplies (and you know there’s going to be a lot of writing; you may have lied to your kid but WE know better than that, don’t we?), and you’re raring to go.
Well, not exactly. Because when you put away the new workbook, you kind of happened upon the old ones that you really meant to finish someday. But this one will be different, right?
Improve your child’s reading comprehension in 5 minutes – or less
There are other ways of improving your child’s reading comprehension, with nary a workbook in site. Ways that your child will find fun, stress-free, and that don’t sacrifice one little rain forest tree.
And best of all, you can play this reading comprehension game in 5 minutes or less.
The goal: Help your child remember more details while they read
Many children with reading comprehension difficulties have trouble sorting out the chaff from the wheat. They don’t know what things they need to remember, and what things are relatively unimportant. So they end up trying to remember everything, which of course doesn’t work.
In this game, you’ll use a fun song to help your child focus on the part they need to remember.
How to play:
Choose a song. If you don’t know the words, you can find them by doing a search for “lyrics for…” online. Choose a song both you and your child enjoy- no point in torturing either of you.
It should also be a song with a refrain, but with more than two or three lines. Some examples: Yellow Submarine, and Don’t Worry Be Happy, are some examples of simpler ones that are fun and easy to use.
Listen to the song a few times with your child. You don’t have to sit and concentrate on it, think-tank style. Just have it playing in the background while you go about your day.
Once your child has heard the song about 2-3 times, you’re ready for the next step: the Challenge. In it, you or your child sing one line of the song, but leave out the last word. For example, in the Don’t Worry Be Happy song, you sing “Here is a little song I - ,” your child needs to fill in, “wrote.”
Continue your way working through the song until you finish it.
You can play this like a game show and give bonus points for top performance. For example, challenge your child to remember the key words at the end, without singing each line. So she would say “wrote-note” for the first couplet of the song. The more she knows, the more points she gets.
You can have them trade in points for a special night out with mom and dad, a toy they’ve been wanting to get (and you planned on getting them anyway – why not let them work for it?), or whatever else you want.
And that’s it. Play this game daily and in just a few days you’ll see a marked improvement in your child’s ability to remember details. And remember, the more your child plays reading comprehension games, the better they’ll get when they hit the books.
Most parents look forward with a bit of trepidation to their children learning to read. It’s a big step, and there is perhaps no other skill more important to your child’s development than reading.
So when your child finds learning to read difficult, it can be as devastating to you as it is to your child.
There are several reasons why your child might have trouble learning their alphabet. Of course all children are different, and you might find that your child’s reading difficulties are caused by more than thing on this list. However, be assured that your child will learn to read eventually.
Weak auditory memory
A strong auditory memory is what allows your child to remember what they hear. If your child’s auditory memory is weak, they’ll have trouble remembering that the m in man is the same sound as the m in map.
Recognizing initial sounds is one of the first steps in most phonics programs, so if your child has this problem, you’ll probably notice even before your child starts kindergarten.
Weak auditory – visual language association
This sounds complicated, but it really means that your child has trouble putting together an auditory piece of info with a visual one. Practically, that means that they can’t seem to associate the sound m with the letter m.
This was a minor problem for one son of mine, and a huge problem with a second. The second son also had a weak auditory memory on top of it, which made things that much harder.
Weak visual discrimination skills
In order for your child to read well, they need to be able to tell one letter from another. A child who has weak visual discrimination skills, finds this difficult to do. They may simply need glasses , which is easy to fix.
Believe it or not, this happens more frequently than parents realize, which is why I always insist kids get an eye exam before I do an evaluation. It’s not always easy to tell when a child needs glasses, especially if they’re young.
Weak visual closure skills
Visual closure is the skill that lets children put the whole picture together from the parts. So for example, let’s say you’re building a toy airplane for your daughter. A child with visual closure issues would have trouble looking at the pieces on the table and recognizing that you’re building an airplane.
Practically, if your child has weak visual closure skills, she might be able to read a word like hat, but when given the individual letters, won’t be able to make the word hat from them.
This problem is harder to see if your child’s teacher relies heavily on sight words. However in most classes, all alphabet learning involves building words, so your child would have trouble as soon as they start putting words together.
Weak auditory closure
This is similar to visual closure, except it involves sounds. So your child would have trouble blending words together(c-a-t). This can also become doubly complicated if your child also has even a mild weakness in auditory memory: by the time they get to the last letter, they might have forgotten what the initial letters were, and so be unable to read the word.
These may seem overwhelming, but don’t worry! I’ll be writing posts later on with specific activities that you can use to help your child overcome these weaknesses.
Hi! I’m a parent of 8 children, 3 of whom have learning disabilities. I have over 20 years experience working with kids and adults of all ages. My specialty is disabilities on the autistic spectrum, and language delays.