Because children with dyslexia are not at the same level of literacy as their peers, we must approach some literacy aspects differently. I’ve often heard and read teachers comments about how to increase reading skills. Generally, the comment is, “Read more.” While reading more will develop additional literacy skills for the average reader, most dyslexic students cannot decode the words they are being tasked to read. If they are reading, generally they are guessing at unknown words. Reading more, incorrectly, is not going to create a more apt reader.
Contextual reading is only going to frustrate the reader, and the intended goals are NEVER reached. In fact, most students tasked to read more (wrongly) simply give up. Teachers, you know these students. They are in your classroom.
So, during this year’s Read Across America event, let’s try a few things. Pay attention to those students who just flashed before your mind. See how they react to the action items you put into place in your classroom this year.
#1: Ear Reading
Actually, if your Kindergarten or 1st grade students are reading Dr. Seuss books, you already know that most are really not decoding every word in his books. While Dr. Seuss based his stories on rhyme and repetition, many of the words in these books are not decodable by young readers. But, they are fun to listen to!
One of the best ways for the student with dyslexia to gain literacy skills, while they are receiving appropriate interventions is to “Ear Read”. This method of “reading” is gaining popularity in the general population and is a perfect match for students with reading challenges. Why? It allows for several areas of growth at a student’s grade level.
Prosody – When students hear written language read with appropriate intonation and expression, they learn the cadence of our language.
Learning about the world – Learning about the world continues to develop at an appropriate age/grade level, while the student’s decoding skills are being brought up to a more appropriate grade level.
Classroom Teacher/School Librarian Action Item:
Purchase (or get parents to donate) audio Dr. Seuss books (provide Amazon link). DO NOT ask the dyslexic student to peer read. There is nothing more embarrassing than asking these students to show their weaknesses to peers (ask any adult dyslexic and they will share their classroom memories of these kinds of activities). Allow small groups of students (even good readers) to Ear Read in the classroom/library during reading time to make this an acceptable practice for all students.
Our Action Item:
We are asking our reading proficient students with dyslexia and some staff members to read aloud several Dr. Seuss books, and are creating an Ear Reading Library, available only to families at Successful Learning Educational Services. To check out our SLES Ear Reading Page, please click HERE.