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Phonics or whole word for dyslexics?

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I cannot figure out how to help my 3rd grade dd. She is using 1st grade reading and phonics (R&S), Why Johnny Can't Read and AAS1 for spelling. Today, she spelled camp C-A-P. I always have a good attitude with her, but I'm worried that she is not progressing.


Do I need to change my way of teaching? I don't know how to teach any other way. I don't have money to put into a new program.

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I cannot figure out how to help my 3rd grade dd. She is using 1st grade reading and phonics (R&S), Why Johnny Can't Read and AAS1 for spelling. Today, she spelled camp C-A-P. I always have a good attitude with her, but I'm worried that she is not progressing.


Do I need to change my way of teaching? I don't know how to teach any other way. I don't have money to put into a new program.


If mistakes like leaving off one sound in a blend is common, she may struggle with hearing the sounds within words. Teaching reading via "whole words" doesn't correct that problem. There are evaluations that speech therapists (and others) can do to determine and document if she has phonemic awareness problems. There are programs out there to remediate the situation that require some training for the teacher/tutor/therapist/or parent. If you search "phonemic awareness" you might find some teaching tips that could help.


A popular program for dyslexics, Barton Reading and Spelling, devotes the first level of the program entirely to phonemic awareness and the next few levels continue to cover it. LiPS is another program that I've used that covers it in greater detail. Occassionally libraries or charitable organizations will have those programs available for people to borrow.


Here's a link to the free student screening for Barton http://bartonreading.com/students_long.html#screen That is how I discovered my son didn't even have enough phonemic awareness to start a strong program for dyslexia that covers phonemic awareness. I've spent a fair amount of money on purchasing special education programs, so I'm not the best at telling you how to do it without spending money.

Edited by merry gardens
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She needs help with phonemic awareness. Barton's level 1 addresses PA. Also, Earobics is a decent program although Barton is better. You are going to have trouble finding free resources in the dyslexia realm. Once you understand the Orton-Gillingham approach you could create your own materials. Maybe you can search your library for good resources on phonemic awareness or O-G programs. That would be a good start.

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My son had problems with that, too. We did a large number of phonemic awareness things -- it was difficult for him and took a lot of time and a lot of repetition and a lot of modeling.


AAS Level 1 is one of the things I used (though we didn't go far in it at all, lol) and the letter tiles and her whole process of pulling down the letter tiles was VERY good for my son.


But it took quite a bit of time and modeling with that (and other things).


Have you read Overcoming Dyslexia? The main point is just that phonemic awareness is hard and it is a foundational skill that kids need. It is a good book, though.


There might be some pre-school phonemic awareness programs at the library. My personal experience though is, if my son can't do the activities easily, he needs the dyslexia kind of help, not the kind of help for kids who need a little exposure and practice. But I think some kids can start with that and then not need to go up to the dyslexia level of materials.


Abecedarian does have a free blending and segmenting program, on their website. You can look through it and see how they have kids blend.... it is really pretty similar to how it is done in AAS 1 with the pulling-down of tiles. It is just something free you can look at.


I don't think there are any programs that are going to be magical though - - I think there is going to be a lot of practice and a lot of modeling. If you can ask a question easy enough that it can be answered, that is good. If you can ask him to copy you, that is good. If he can answer a question correctly at all but not generalize at all ----- for my son that was good, but I know for kids who can memorize answers without really understanding, that is not good, and the recommendation then is to use nonsense words instead of real words. It just takes time.


I agree with others that Barton Level 1 is very good, too.


(Btw -- in general my son made a lot of mistakes like the one you mention, and I think it is perfect to use the tiles, and have her drag down the letters. Help her and see if she can realize she wrote "cap" and if you give her the m, can she add it in? If she can hear an m, that is even better. I also was helped by the error correction videos from Abecedarian -- very helpful to me.

) Edited by Lecka
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Phonics is the way to go.


Your DD just needs more practice and time. I read somewhere a "normal kid" may learn something after having it repeated 20 times, but a dyslexic kid may need it repeated 100 times or more before it sinks in.


My DS12, needs TONS of repetition.


Keep plugging away! :)

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I believe some kids can learn to read and spell very well without phonics. My son is doing just that. If you have tried and tried phonics, and she's just not getting it, I wouldn't keep doing the same thing and expecting different results. If it's not working, I'd try something different.


I'd start trying more visual approaches to reading and spelling. This utilizes the strengths of many kids, instead of their weaknesses (phonics). Some of the things we've explored that have a more visual approach are:


- pictogram cards (as explained in these videos)



- Dianne Craft (blend of phonics and pictures)


- Jeffrey Freed's book "Right Brained Children in a Left Brained World"

describes many visual learning strategies


- Davis Dyslexia methods


Both my son and my father completed the Davis Dyslexia program with wonderful results. You said you didn't have money for another program, but if you can, I'd check out the book The Gift of Dyslexia that the program is based on. Most libraries have it. You can get plastilina clay at an art store and start doing some of the exercises in the book - to see if they might be a good fit. I'd also suggest calling your nearest Davis faciliator - even if you don't do the program my experience has been that they are happy to talk with you about how you can work with your child at home.


For spelling, we use those pictogram cards. I have my son tell me the picture to make on the card and make up his own sentences about it. He spells the word forwards and backwards and makes a picture in his mind of the sentence. I've made audio recordings that go something like this: "The next word is TABLE. Every night we eat dinner around our kitchen table. Our table is made of oak wood. T-A-B-L-E, E-L-B-A-T. See the letters in your mind, and see the table." Now my son's auditory processing is very good, so this method works for us. For him listening to these recordings helps him retrieve the pictures he's made in his mind of the words.


When we do break words into pieces, we do morphemes (the smallest part of the word that has meaning) instead of phonemes. So we might do walk-ing, water-melon, etc. We don't break down into each individual sound.


I just don't think heavy duty phonics has to be for everyone. My DD does great with it, but my son does much better with these visual methods. I think there should be room for both, and that both should be equally valued. It also feels really good to teach with his strengths. He feels much more positive and successful about his learning.

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Since he has gotten the hang of phonemic awareness, phonics is no longer a weakness for my son. He continues to need more repetition and practice, but his phonics are as good as other kids his age. He just doesn't pick up new patterns easily (aka without practice).


I think it is valuable and worth doing for reading.


Now spelling.... All the things mentioned by pp I think are Very worthwhile for spelling. But reading is supposed to be easier than spelling -- you don't have to know which phonetically correct spelling is the right one, to read. I think they are valuable for dolch list type words that are not phonetic, too. But with so, so many words being phonetic, I do think it is worth really trying.


But if it is just not happening then I would not want to make it the end all be all. But I think phonics is going to be more desirable overall bc that is how the system is designed -- overall words are phonetic and can be sounded out. I do think it is worth the effort if it is possible!

Edited by Lecka
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