Teaching Reading: Students with Reading Problems: Dyslexia

Science and educational research tell us what to do if your child has a reading problem (dyslexia). Schools and individual teachers simply deny the science, and refuse to do what is know to be the best thing for students. Understanding the science is the best tool you have to help your child get the help they need.

If your child has difficulty reading, their entire educational life will be difficult. So will their work-life. Because of this you need to understand how reading is learned, how it should be taught, and call on your school to follow the science. The science, and how schools approach teaching reading, as you will see, are not in agreement much of the time. This blogpost is here to help. If you know other parents of children having difficulty with reading, I suggest starting a parent group, sort of a “reading about reading” group, meeting and discussing these articles, and approaching your school and school district together.  You might, as a group, find a reading instructor properly trained in this area and arrange for group reading lessons. That would be cost effective, and a great way to build a positive environment for your children to learn. 

Reading isn’t something natural to the brain, like speaking
Reading needs to be taught, formally. And science has shown that, in the early grades students need to read not by learning to recognise just words on a page but relating sounds to what they see. Again, while reading may be very easy for some students, learning to read is NOT a natural process. Science shows this and proponents of the “Whole Language” approach to reading have taken over the schools, and more significantly, most of our teacher colleges, and seem to deny the science at every turn.

Many teachers of young children simply don’t know how to teach reading based on brain science. They have limited experience in teaching phonics, and received very little training in these techniques, often amounting to a few hours, in teaching these necessary skills. Lacking these skills they rely upon what is called “Whole Language” teaching children to recognize whole words, or teaching them to guess at a word based upon its context, rather than teaching the skill of sounding out the word. Often they use a method called “Balanced Literacy,” meaning they teach some phonetic skills and then engage in some whole language reading. When observed we find that most of these teachers spend the vast majority of their time using Whole Language techniques, and seldom focus on the basics of phonetic skills. Seldom have they taken any significant coursework in teaching reading based upon science.

If your child has difficult with reading you need to become familiar with these teaching methods, with the terms, and the science. Below I will provide you with some easy to understand research, some videos and other materials that will leave you well informed on how research shows we should be teaching reading.  Lets start:

Here is a report called, “Hard Words: Why are kids aren’t being taught to read.”
“Scientific research has shown how children learn to read and how they should be taught. But many educators don't know the science and, in some cases, actively resist it. As a result, millions of kids are being set up to fail.” 
APM (American Public Media Reports)
Click here: https://www.apmreports.org/story/2018/09/10/hard-words-why-american-kids-arent-being-taught-to-read.

APM (American Public Media Reports) In my opinion, the BEST Video and reading material for parents about teaching reading

A better, and more comprehensive, version of this story is found below. It also contains some great videos explaining how we should be teaching reading, and why our kids just aren’t taught reading skills in a way that is based upon the science: At a Loss for Words: How a flawed idea is teaching millions of kids to be poor readers. This is, by far, my favourite link to share on this topic because it explains the issues so clearly.

Click here: https://www.apmreports.org/story/2019/08/22/whats-wrong-how-schools-teach-reading On this page there is also a podcast to listen to.

NPR (National Public Radio)
Another introductory reading and podcast is found on NPR (National Public Radio) is “Why millions of kids can’t read better and what better teaching can do about it.

Click here: https://www.npr.org/2019/01/02/677722959/why-millions-of-kids-cant-read-and-what-better-teaching-can-do-about-it

From The New York Times
Here is a New York Times opinion piece on this topic. For talking points this might be a good reference. It focuses on the question of why we still allow teachers to get through teacher education programs without knowing how to teach children to read.

Click here: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/26/opinion/sunday/phonics-teaching-reading-wrong-way.html

Here is another article aimed at parents: “What do I do if my school doesn’t teach reading in a scientific manner?” 

This is a GREAT article. It tells you what to look for in the class, what posters to look for, what skills should be taught, what to look for on the walls, and most important, suggests a method to address the problem at home: LTRS

Click here: https://www.apmreports.org/story/2018/10/08/what-to-do-if-your-childs-school-isnt-teaching-reading-right

How to tell if your school is using SCIENCE to teach reading
Here is another article on how to tell if your school fails to teach reading based upon science, and has been taken over by whole language practitioners:

Click here: https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED498005.pdf

Here is a a short Quiz about teaching reading (Maine Dept of Education). Teachers and administrators should know these things. Take a look, and take the test yourself after reading the above materials.
Click here: http://readingmatterstomaine.org/quiz/

There are also some samples of the training materials used in Maine:

Click here: http://readingmatterstomaine.org/reading-and-the-brain/

Other Issues
I am often asked about the laws in BC and how they protect students, or how they guarantee that students receive a decent education. Here is an important case to consider this case:

Click here: https://ldac-acta.ca/downloads/pdf/media_release/Judge_Dillon.pdf

What does this case say about when special or support services should start?

“Early intervention produces better outcomes. Interventions after grade three have to increase exponentially in comparison with earlier interventions because of the growing knowledge gap. Remediation after grade three is more costly and less effective, with the possibility that lost ground may never be recovered. …the effectiveness of early intervention was agreed by all experts who testified.”

Should I have my child assessed? The school says we should wait until grade 4?

Without early assessment, no intervention will take place. Read the paragraph above again. No child in the United States would be told to wait until grade 3-4 to be assessed. It would be a violation of the law. Period. It should be here also. 

What services should I look for to help my child with a reading disability?

There are two programs that I have found parents are almost always satisfied with. Both of these programs have extensive training programs for their “certified” providers. Several school districts, such as the Bellingham School District in Washington State have trained the majority of their support teachers in these programs and use them extensively throughout their districts. 

The Orton-Gillingham Method

Click here: https://www.ortonacademy.org 
(there are many Orton-Gillingham practitioners in BC.
Click here: https://www.ortonacademy.org/for-parents/find-a-teacher-tutor/

The Lindamood-Bell Method

Click here: https://lindamoodbell.com/learning-centres-canada

The LTRS Method
LTRS: A comprehensive Training Program for Teachers

Click here: https://www.voyagersopris.com/professional-development/letrs/training-support

Parents have also found Rocket Reading useful:

click here: https://www.readingrockets.org

How a Child Becomes a Reader
Here is a useful guide to reading fro parents:
Click here: https://lincs.ed.gov/publications/pdf/reading_pre.pdf

Make sure your tutor is fully certified, has a degree in education and experience in the schools.  Recently on-line I saw one program that says it was certified by the BBB. BBB stands for the Better Business Beureau. The BBB has nothing what-so-ever to do with education, it’s a business organisation. This immediately tells me this organisation is not telling the truth to parents. You need to do your homework. There are also a number of “On-line” tutoring programs. I don’t understand how these multi-sensory approaches work on-line. Ask other parents.

For more help, or for an independent psychoeducational assessment, please contact our offices. Our webpage is www.relatedminds.com  You will find our phone contact and an email contact form on our webpage.

KEY WORDS: Reading Disability, Dyslexia, Learning Disorders, Testing, Assessment, Psychoeducational Assessment, Reading