Jul 102013

If your child struggling terribly to learn which letters represent individual sounds, I have some free resources for you, but first you need to understand how these resources will help you.

Overcoming Dyslexia Requires Phonemic Awareness Training

Children with TRUE dyslexia struggle with phonemic awareness. 

If your child has been diagnosed with dyslexia by a neuropsychologist, psychologist, or other educational professional, then your child lacks phonemic awareness (PA).  PA can be taught, but it takes daily diligence to help your child overcome his struggles.

Picking a program that will actually work for your dyslexic child is challenging, but you can choose wisely by understanding the different types of programs.

Teaching Reading to children with dyslexia through phonemic awareness programs at home or in school is critical for overcoming true dyslexia. You may be confused by the different ways people recommend overcoming dyslexia, but how you approach your child’s difficulty should be based upon your child’s particular areas of deficit. No single program is going to be “best” for every child.

Reading programs can teach in several different ways. 

Which Program is Best for Teaching A Child With Dyslexia?

Learning by whole word recognition is the least likely to be successful for children with true dyslexia.  There are not many whole word recognition remediation programs, but one that I consider “whole word” is Reading Recovery, which many schools use, but which is often ineffective for children with true or severe dyslexia.

“The goal of “Reading Recovery” is to help children acquire efficient patterns of learning to enable them to work at the average level of their classmates and to continue to progress satisfactorily in their own school’s instructional program.”

Reading Recovery was the first program used to try to intervene my son’s reading difficulties, but it was totally ineffective.  Reading Recovery  was Jenny’s child’s first program, but the program was totally ineffective for her son too.

Simply put, for children who are diagnosed with true phonemic awareness deficits (dyslexia), Reading Recovery does not seem to work effectively.

The “best”, most universal form, of remediation is through “the rules” governing our language and by teaching phonemic awareness explicitly.

Phonemic Awareness

Beginning with phonemic awareness, the recognition that each word is made up of separate sounds called “phonemes”, this type of instruction tries to teach the child language as it relates to printed text from the most basic element up through complex, multisyllable words.  Specific, sequential, multisensory instruction that spells out every detail for reading decoding and encoding (which is spelling) is covered by every comprehensive Orton-Gillingham reading program.

Which program you should begin with will be determined by your child’s individual needs. You’ll need to determine, or know, if your child has phonemic awareness issues. You can get an idea of which approach you may need to take by asking your child how many “sounds” he hears in certain words.. for example “short” has 3 sounds.. /sh/, /or/, /t/ — that is a tough one though. A simple one would be “see”… it has two sounds.. /s/ and /ee/ or maybe “dog” having 3 sounds.. /d/, /o/, /g/. The key is whether your child can determine the specific spoken sounds in each word in order to sound out words when reading or to know which letters to write when spelling.

You can use pre-made phonemic awareness programs created for teaching children with dyslexia, or you can study the Orton-Gillingham methodology and teach your child yourself.  We used a combination of home created resources and purchased programs.

Free Phonemic Awareness Resources

If you need some free phonemic awareness tools for working with your child, I have just created some new ones to go with my new book, The Dyslexia Help Handbook for Parents: Your Guide to Overcoming Dyslexia Including Tools You Can Use for Learning EmpowermentDyslexia Help Handbook for Parents book dyslexic dyslexie books, which is available on Amazon.

The first resource is a table of phonemes that you can use as a checklist when teaching your child each individual phoneme.  Simply print the PDF file at learningabledkids.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/sec-phoneme-table.pdf and use it as your teaching guide.

I also have some Phonogram Tiles that you can print on cardstock, laminate with adhesive laminate, cut out and use for letter and spelling practice with your child.  You can find the Phonogram Tiles PDF at learningabledkids.com/downloadablepdfs/completesetphonemetiles.pdf.

Lastly, I have made some sight word practice cards.  You can print this PDF on perforated business card sheets with 10 cards per sheet, which you can buy on Amazon or at a local office supply store. That’s the easiest way to make the flashcards.  If you want to print the words on cardstock, you can use a paper cutter to cut the words into flashcards, but it is more difficult to make the cards a precise and uniform size. The sight word cards can be found at: learningabledkids.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/sight-word-cards-secd.pdf

Because auditory issues can be significant, If your child has little phonemic awareness, I’d lean towards **Earobics or **Fast ForWord Literacy to begin with. Be aware though, if your child has difficulty with auditory issues, he may find these programs very difficult (mine did) and may not like the program initially. You might have to set up some sort of reward system for completion of an activity or certain amount of time. (For example, If you work on the program for 20 minutes, I’ll read a book to you). Fast ForWord Literacy is also very difficult to come by on the open market and generally provided through trained providers.  Thus, it can be expensive to get your hands on a copy of the program for independent home use.  You may prefer to go to a paid provider anyway because they are trained to work with your child and the program in order to provide the best outcomes.

After the phonemic awareness issues are addressed, whether by using a program like Earobics, or through individualized therapy, you should be freer to choose from among various remediation programs. You may also want to read about the Orton-Gillingham methodology and Orton-Gillingham reading programs before you delve into program selection further.

Depending upon your particular circumstances, you may want to use private services, pursue services for your child at school, or help your child at home.   If you plan to do it yourself, check out recommended Reading Programs for Home Use. These programs are fairly inexpensive, based upon Orton-Gillingham methods, but depend upon your own dedication to providing the program. In some cases, you have to create or buy your own supporting materials. These programs are all viable and usable by anyone who can read, comprehend, and follow directions.

If you will pursue services from another provider, you can familiarize yourself with various programs at on our “Proven Packaged Reading Programs” page. These programs are more expensive, CAN be done at home, are complete, comprehensive, and have been proven to work.

phonemic awareness

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