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A Question About Remediating Older Children Who Cannot Read Well


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So, every once in a while I read a thread about children who have a tough time reading, and someone mentioned that kids who learned the Dolch reading word list would have a tougher time reading once they hit 4th grade (and saw more advanced literature) than those children who learned phonics.  My kids learned to read in public school and when they were that age, I was one of those people who didn't think anyone but professional teachers could teach young children (I actually believed this!) and so I left that to the school.  We read to them a lot at home, but I didn't attempt to teach reading; I didn't think I could teach it effectively.  I don't know how much phonics instruction they had along with the Dolch sight words, but I do remember making sure they memorized those darned words because the teacher told me it was important that they commit that word list to memory. 

 

Fast forward a few years, we are now homeschooling, and my DD is a rising 7th grader and DS is a rising 4th grader.  By all accounts I have ever seen, they both read at a level advanced for their grade.  But I just sit here and wonder if they are as advanced as they seem, and if their public school reading instruction will catch up with them and if at some point they will be unable to handle the Great Books because of their early childhood reading education.  I should probably stop worrying, but I wonder about this.  And for those children who do find themselves behind when they come to homeschool, how on Earth do you remediate reading  and phonics instruction at that old an age?

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Approximately 20% of students will require explicit, phonics based reading instruction due to dyslexia.  Another 30% of students will read no matter what sort of reading program you throw at them.  

 

About 98% of DOLCH words can be read using phonics.  If your children are reading and spelling without difficulty, they are fine, so don't worry about it.  :D

 

My DS is a gifted dyslexic and received tutoring 2-3 days per week for 5 years with a Wilson Reading specialist.  Many homeschoolers use Barton Reading and Spelling for remediation.  There are many options to assist homeschooling moms teach their kids to read. 

 

ETA:  I used to feel the same way as you about teachers in general....Like, they knew best.  And then I brought DS home for a semester, and his standardized test scores flew.  Then, we hit math together.  I read a handful of books and realized the teachers at my son's private school were clueless about differentiated instruction and how the brain works.

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When you say they are reading above their expected level, how are they at reading out loud?

 

In other words, are they decoding well?  Do they have fluency, as well as comprehension?

 

Agree with everything that Heather said, by the way.  

 

If you do have concrete reasons to be concerned, maybe posting those concerns on the Learning Challenges board might net you some good solid options on where to turn.

 

And FWIW, my kids were a rising 6th grader and a rising 3rd grader when we pulled them out to homeschool and started remediation.  I, too, thought for a long time that only teachers could teach.  (Lots of family are teachers).  I was wrong.  My mother, a ps reading specialist, admits that at least for many kids teaching reading at home with a motivated mom who is willing to explore and find what fits their kid best is WAY more effective, especially for those that need phonics based instruction but are only exposed to sight word instruction through the ps.  

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My kids read and comprehend very well, but my DD has/had trouble with spelling.  We did remediate that this year, though, and I honestly think it was a careless-lazy issue, because her spelling has improved tremendously just by forcing editing of her papers and demanding that she pay more attention to detail. 

Approximately 20% of students will require explicit, phonics based reading instruction due to dyslexia.  Another 30% of students will read no matter what sort of reading program you throw at them.  

 

About 98% of DOLCH words can be read using phonics.  If your children are reading and spelling without difficulty, they are fine, so don't worry about it.  :D

 

My DS is a gifted dyslexic and received tutoring 2-3 days per week for 5 years with a Wilson Reading specialist.  Many homeschoolers use Barton Reading and Spelling for remediation.  There are many options to assist homeschooling moms teach their kids to read. 

 

ETA:  I used to feel the same way as you about teachers in general....Like, they knew best.  And then I brought DS home for a semester, and his standardized test scores flew.  Then, we hit math together.  I read a handful of books and realized the teachers at my son's private school were clueless about differentiated instruction and how the brain works.

 

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They read fluently and comprehend well when they read aloud, but neither child likes to read aloud; they prefer to read silently.  I think this is because I make them read more slowly and enunciate well so that I can hear whether or not they are pronouncing words properly.  I'm probably annoying.  :)  When DD reads, though, she reads extraordinarily fast and sometimes just skips works and/or mispronounces them.  When I have her go back and read the word she mispronounced more slowly, she can pronounce it though.

 

I don't think we have a problem, but I was just wondering if a problem will occur later on when they are asked to ramp up their reading, and if so, people do for that.

When you say they are reading above their expected level, how are they at reading out loud?

 

In other words, are they decoding well?  Do they have fluency, as well as comprehension?

 

Agree with everything that Heather said, by the way.  

 

If you do have concrete reasons to be concerned, maybe posting those concerns on the Learning Challenges board might net you some good solid options on where to turn.

 

And FWIW, my kids were a rising 6th grader and a rising 3rd grader when we pulled them out to homeschool and started remediation.  I, too, thought for a long time that only teachers could teach.  (Lots of family are teachers).  I was wrong.  My mother, a ps reading specialist, admits that at least for many kids teaching reading at home with a motivated mom who is willing to explore and find what fits their kid best is WAY more effective, especially for those that need phonics based instruction but are only exposed to sight word instruction through the ps.  

 

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This is what we will be doing next year.  I am planning on incorporating more read-alouds with both kids so that I can better see and hear how they read and handle more challenging works.

Ask your dc to read aloud for a short time each day. When they cannot pronounce a word, you can stop for a moment and discuss the word and how it is spelled. Pick a reasonably challenging book and take turns reading.

 

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My dd9 was an early reader and continued to advance in reading very quickly.  When she was 5yo, I noticed that she would struggle with a new word, but she would never struggle with it again after I told her what it was.  I realized that she was very good at memorizing words.  Because I was concerned that this strategy would come back to bite her later on, I started using Spell to Write and Read.  It took 2 years of this intensive program before I saw her successfully sound out brand new words on her own.  In the meantime, her reading level was still years ahead.  So I am very glad that I caught this early on and did not rely on her reading level as an indication of her competence.  

 

Some kids can actually internalize the phonics on their own.  (I know I did.  I did not learn to read and spell with phonics, but I do both well.)  I do think that it is important to find out if your students can sound out a word they haven't seen before.  If they have trouble, then I would consider some remediation.  Many people have used Spell to Write and Read and similar programs for their older children.  It is easy to place them where they are, and there is nothing babyish about it.  

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I have a struggling reader. No one would believe me when I said she had reading problems, because she could actually read a passage at grade level.  She is a very good word guesser, using context. But at almost nine, she still can't remember the sounds the vowels make when I slow her down and make her read letter by letter. She can't sound things out. So if a child like this does not have their reading remediated, they really struggle later on when they must read higher level materials that use words they can't guess or haven't memorized by sight.

 

I'd suggest having your kids read some nonsense words to you.  If they can decode them, they are probably fine. No worries. They have the skills to read unfamiliar words. If they have trouble, this will help you pinpoint the problem.  My guess is that they are doing well. 

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I have a struggling reader. No one would believe me when I said she had reading problems, because she could actually read a passage at grade level.  She is a very good word guesser, using context. But at almost nine, she still can't remember the sounds the vowels make when I slow her down and make her read letter by letter. She can't sound things out. So if a child like this does not have their reading remediated, they really struggle later on when they must read higher level materials that use words they can't guess or haven't memorized by sight.

 

I'd suggest having your kids read some nonsense words to you.  If they can decode them, they are probably fine. No worries. They have the skills to read unfamiliar words. If they have trouble, this will help you pinpoint the problem.  My guess is that they are doing well. 

 

You have described my 8-almost-9yo daughter exactly. She can 'read' a book at almost grade level, but when I'm teaching her, she often asks me things like 'Is it O-A or A-O that makes the oh sound?' or 'Does A-R make er?'  I have also had the same issue with her school not believing how behind she is. She is excellent at vocabulary, guessing, contextualizing and general comprehension, so they think she is low average rather than seriously delayed. :banghead:  That's one reason we are hoping to bring her home again.

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This is what I did this AM.  I pulled a book out above grade level and pointed to words they could not read and didn't know and asked them to figure it out.  DD was unable to articulate how she did it, but I could tell she was looking at the sounds.  DS told me flat out it tried to sound it out.  So I guess they are both OK.  Interesting that he could articulate what he was doing though; he went to a small, traditional private school during K-1 and DD was in public K-5.

I have a struggling reader. No one would believe me when I said she had reading problems, because she could actually read a passage at grade level.  She is a very good word guesser, using context. But at almost nine, she still can't remember the sounds the vowels make when I slow her down and make her read letter by letter. She can't sound things out. So if a child like this does not have their reading remediated, they really struggle later on when they must read higher level materials that use words they can't guess or haven't memorized by sight.

 

I'd suggest having your kids read some nonsense words to you.  If they can decode them, they are probably fine. No worries. They have the skills to read unfamiliar words. If they have trouble, this will help you pinpoint the problem.  My guess is that they are doing well. 

 

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I somehow missed this post, but I have seen these links before, I just had forgotten about them.  They are useful, thanks! 

 

ETA:  Believe it or not, when I read through that second link when it was first posted, I took a lot out of that first post of yours (should have 'liked' it then) and decided to model our homeschool on that and a few other suggestions for next year.  So we are doing much more reading and using suggestions from that thread as far as quantity and quality of reading material goes.

Reefgazer, have you read this thread on reading nonfiction: Developing Advanced Reading Skills? or this one on reading fiction: How to work through progressively more challenging works?

 

The answer to you question, is NO, not all students will advance their reading skills without direct instruction.

Ruth in NZ

 

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So, every once in a while I read a thread about children who have a tough time reading, and someone mentioned that kids who learned the Dolch reading word list would have a tougher time reading once they hit 4th grade (and saw more advanced literature) than those children who learned phonics.  My kids learned to read in public school and when they were that age, I was one of those people who didn't think anyone but professional teachers could teach young children (I actually believed this!) and so I left that to the school.  We read to them a lot at home, but I didn't attempt to teach reading; I didn't think I could teach it effectively.  I don't know how much phonics instruction they had along with the Dolch sight words, but I do remember making sure they memorized those darned words because the teacher told me it was important that they commit that word list to memory. 

 

Fast forward a few years, we are now homeschooling, and my DD is a rising 7th grader and DS is a rising 4th grader.  By all accounts I have ever seen, they both read at a level advanced for their grade.  But I just sit here and wonder if they are as advanced as they seem, and if their public school reading instruction will catch up with them and if at some point they will be unable to handle the Great Books because of their early childhood reading education.  I should probably stop worrying, but I wonder about this.  And for those children who do find themselves behind when they come to homeschool, how on Earth do you remediate reading  and phonics instruction at that old an age?

 

If I were in your place, I would do Spalding with them this fall.

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You have described my 8-almost-9yo daughter exactly. She can 'read' a book at almost grade level, but when I'm teaching her, she often asks me things like 'Is it O-A or A-O that makes the oh sound?' or 'Does A-R make er?'  I have also had the same issue with her school not believing how behind she is. She is excellent at vocabulary, guessing, contextualizing and general comprehension, so they think she is low average rather than seriously delayed. :banghead:  That's one reason we are hoping to bring her home again.

 IsabelC, have you read anything online about stealth dyslexia?  I've decided that my daughter has it (though she has not been through a formal evaluation yet). I took her for a free reading screening at a local private school for children with learning difficulties.  You would think they would spot it, right? But they gave her a 15 minute screening, then told me that since she was not in the bottom 25% for her age, she was "doing perfectly fine." He gave me a lot of statistics about how accurate this screening test is. When I pointed out her issues (can't remember letter sounds; can't rhyme; can't memorize math facts; can't spell simple words; had a terribly difficult time learning to read, which was out of proportion with how smart she is), he seemed flummoxed. I think in a school setting, kids like this often fall through the cracks, because they can open a book and read a page of text without many mistakes.  Take those same words, remove the context, and put them on a flashcard, and they can't do it.  DD8 can read a Magic Treehouse Book, but she can't read the word "salt" when written by itself on a page.

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 IsabelC, have you read anything online about stealth dyslexia?  I've decided that my daughter has it (though she has not been through a formal evaluation yet). I took her for a free reading screening at a local private school for children with learning difficulties.  You would think they would spot it, right? But they gave her a 15 minute screening, then told me that since she was not in the bottom 25% for her age, she was "doing perfectly fine." He gave me a lot of statistics about how accurate this screening test is. When I pointed out her issues (can't remember letter sounds; can't rhyme; can't memorize math facts; can't spell simple words; had a terribly difficult time learning to read, which was out of proportion with how smart she is), he seemed flummoxed. I think in a school setting, kids like this often fall through the cracks, because they can open a book and read a page of text without many mistakes.  Take those same words, remove the context, and put them on a flashcard, and they can't do it.  DD8 can read a Magic Treehouse Book, but she can't read the word "salt" when written by itself on a page.

 

The bolded bit makes no sense at all. In any group, there is obviously going to be 1 in 4 kids in the bottom 25%, while 3 in 4 are above that. But if you don't account for the general standard of the class, let alone whether the percentile ranking fits with a particular child's general progress, how is the result going to be meaningful in any way? You might, for example, have a 2E child who would be in the top 5% except that her dyslexia drags her down to only scrape into the top 25%. But then these 'experts' are going to tell the parents of that child that she is above average and can't possibly have a learning difficulty. 

 

Anyway, I will read a bit more about stealth dyslexia, so I know what to say when we finally get an assessment, so thanks for the suggestion :)

 

Meanwhile, my daughter's class is going to perform the Respect Rap for school assembly next week, and I am really struggling to get her to say R.E.S.P.E.C.T. She is very excited about "singing in American" lol so she's trying to learn it. But no matter how many times we go over it, she says R.E.S.P.C.E.T.  

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I'd suggest having your kids read some nonsense words to you.  If they can decode them, they are probably fine. No worries. They have the skills to read unfamiliar words. If they have trouble, this will help you pinpoint the problem.  My guess is that they are doing well. 

 

This.

 

By mispronounce do you mean they will, essentially, "guess" a similar word?  Generally it's a word that begins and ends with the same letters as the printed word but is more commonly used.  This is guessing based on word shape.  It's an interesting thing to see in reading aloud once you're aware of it and indicative that they are reading by memory, not phonetically. 

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The bolded bit makes no sense at all. In any group, there is obviously going to be 1 in 4 kids in the bottom 25%, while 3 in 4 are above that. But if you don't account for the general standard of the class, let alone whether the percentile ranking fits with a particular child's general progress, how is the result going to be meaningful in any way? You might, for example, have a 2E child who would be in the top 5% except that her dyslexia drags her down to only scrape into the top 25%. But then these 'experts' are going to tell the parents of that child that she is above average and can't possibly have a learning difficulty. 

 

 

 

I know! Crazy, right?

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I have remediated hundreds of children who are that age!

 

The way they teach in schools works for 60 to 70% of children in a balanced literacy type of program where they mix phonics and sight words and AR.  The failure rate for pure whole word methods is much higher, only 40% will learn to read fairly well.

 

You can give them the MWIA II and the Quick Screen Reading Grade Level test as a check.  They should be within 15% of the speed for both lists and should not miss more than 1 word on each list.  My daughter doesn't miss a single one, but most people taught with some sight words will miss a word or two.  They should also be able to read the nonsense words on the New Elizabethian test without difficulty.

 

http://www.thephonicspage.org/On%20Reading/readinggradeleve.html

 

Most children taught with good phonics methods are reading 1-2 grades above their grade level.  And, I believe you should keep teaching phonics to your child until they are at 12th grade level, it shouldn't take that much time and it makes everything else easier to teach if they can read any material on their own.  A student who misses 1 - 6 words on the MWIA can work through the things on my how to tutor page in 3 or 4 hours and be close to remediated with a liberal dose of nonsense words.  Also, for older students, I limit outside reading and have them focus on just reading words lists, syllables, and nonsense words.  This helps overcome any lingering problems from sight word teaching.  An older student may need more nonsense words, I like "We All Can Read," the 3rd grade and above version as a stock of nonsense words.  I just use the words, not the nonsense words and stories, for severe guessers.  For someone with only a mild guessing habit, I use the nonsense sentences and stories as well as the words.  Words in all uppercase also hide word shape and are helpful for remediating older students.

 

http://www.thephonicspage.org/On%20Reading/howtotutor.html

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