LEARNING & LITERACY
GET YOUR CHILD READING NOW: WHY SCHOOLS MAY NOT HAVE THE ANSWER
Research is continually showing that LANGUAGE is the root cause of learning disabilities. In fact, language delays may be the cause of up to 90% of diagnosed learning problems! Reading, writing, and spelling are the most complex tasks children have to do. To read well, kids must be able to sound out the words (decode), read smoothly and quickly (fluency), and understand what they read (comprehension). This requires many skills – organization of the sound system, grammar awareness, vocabulary, sentence structure awareness attention, memory – talk about multi-tasking! It’s no wonder that up to 20% of children have difficulty learning to read. By Grade three, most students have learned to read, and are now reading to learn. Those students that are behind, those still trying to learn how to read, are in real trouble. They are missing out on content, on knowledge. And the GAP between them and their peers GETS WIDER. Most children learn literacy skills from exposure and practise. For our 20%, they need something different. Our school systems teach to the masses, for the 80% that pick up reading quickly and easily. And unfortunately, the other 20% that are struggling get that same instruction, just repeated again, and at a slower pace. Schools don’t look at all of the skills mentioned above, and don’t provide support in those areas where kids may need extra help or different instruction. Academically and socially, they are at risk for significant difficulty. But the worst part? The worst thing that happens to these kids? They take on SHAME. This one area of their life that isn’t going well impacts all other areas. Their self-esteem and self-confidence takes a beating. They internalize this shame. It doesn’t just impact their relationships with peers, either. Often parents don’t understand what is happening or why, and may think that their child is not applying themselves. They may label them as lazy. It can cause real disconnect in families. That is why I am so passionate about literacy, and about creating individualized interventions that fit each child’s needs. It’s time to teach something DIFFERENT, rather than teaching the same strategies more and slower. I have worked in over 30 public schools and completed two Master’s degrees – the whole time SEARCHING for the answer. What’s missing? How do we get students reading? I know how children learn, I know how to engage and motivate them, and I know how to take that sting of shame away. Let’s start a conversation about how your child learns. Learn more about my experience here Ask Us about adult literacy
GET READING NOW: WHY YOUR CHILD IS FAILING
Ella was one of my favourite students to work with. She worked hard, and we had a lot of fun together. We learned to approach mistakes as learning opportunities, and turned them into inside jokes that we could laugh about. I met her at age 8. She had a halting, choppy voice and slow pace while reading. As well, she demonstrated some letter reversals and difficulty with spelling. Ella would miss letters in her words, such as spelling “sport” as “spot”, or “string” as “sring”. We worked through the way that she said the words aloud, and she became aware of how she could feel different sounds in her mouth. As she grew more aware of each sound, it was easier for her to capture the corresponding letter in her spelling. She also began to take the time to sound out unfamiliar words and to really feel what her mouth was doing. She began to read more quickly, and more confidently. I remember one day we got stuck spelling the word “tries”. We drew some silly pictures of people trying to do things that people just can’t do. As Ella talked about the pictures, I had her listen to her own words. Ella realized that she was saying, “I try, you try, but she tries”. We talked about what happens in our language when we add parts to the ends of words. We explored the spellings of “tries” and “tried” and contrasted that with “trying”. We examined the rule of how to change a spelling when adding a part to a word that ends in “y”. As Ella learned to hear her own speech and language, I provided strategies to help her apply that skill. By Gr. 4, Ella was reading at grade level.
HOW TO TEACH A CHILD TO READ – PROPERLY
Speech-Language Experts leverage built-in structures with a speech-first approach. We teach from the underlying theory that children first need knowledge about the way words SOUND. Kids know how to say words, and they know which sounds they can hear in words. We teach them to identify sounds FIRST, and then to match those sounds to letters AFTER. This works magically, because we already have a space reserved in the brain for this learning to take place! Logical! Brilliant! Genius! It’s revolutionary, cutting-edge, and yet it is leveraging the human system that emerged thousands of years ago. Remember, we have a BUILT-IN SPEECH CENTRE for sounds, but the brain doesn’t HAVE a letter or literacy centre!
A Speech-Language expert MUST be in charge of your child’s reading program!
I am passionate about childhood literacy – kids learning reading, writing, and spelling. I completed a second Master’s in Educational Leadership in hopes of enacting change from a management position. I ultimately quit my job to launch this business – so I could CHANGE the current state of literacy in Canada. I’m definitely in touch with passion and fulfillment, but also sadness and frustration.
Our children SHOULD be reading, yet MANY are not. Parents SHOULD be worried; many are not. Parents can get mislead or complacent – they think the problem is HANDLED because their child gets pulled aside for extra help in school or attends an after-school program.
It’s not handled – most programs are ineffective. Many children do not EVER experience the magic and pure joy that comes from immersing one’s self and getting lost in a favourite childhood story. I have experience working in over 33 public schools, and a common theme between them is miserable, frustrated kids – kids who hate reading, hate spelling, and HATE writing!
KIDS WHO CAN’T READ ARE FRUSTRATED – AND THERE IS WORSE TO COME
“If kids could, kids would”
Our children work HARD, but reading and writing just do not come easily to some. They find it hard, they get frustrated, and they start to demonstrate behaviours to AVOID THE PAIN of the near-impossible work.
CHILDREN WHO HAVE TROUBLE READING TAKE ON A “STORY”
Our children come up with some sort of a message; a story to explain their struggle. And they LIVE that story. The message becomes “I’m stupid”. “I’m different”. “I don’t belong”. “I’m no good”. And this is the tipping point – the moment that is going to RUIN THEIR LIFE: The moment they take on SHAME.
SHAME IS THE WORST THING THAT CAN HAPPEN TO A CHILD
Shame is a deep, dark spiral. It burrows down deep, sabotaging the very root of a child’s confidence and self-esteem. It is a burden; an anchor weighing heavily on a child’s heart. Children with shame often become socially withdrawn, isolated, frustrated, angry, reactive, explosive, or depressed. They stop BELIEVING. They stop DREAMING. They stop TRYING. They stop CARING. “I can’t do it” becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy – it is a vicious cycle leading to a long spiral downward.
THE SHAME FROM TROUBLE WITH READING LEADS TO UNEMPLOYMENT, INCARCERATION – AND WORSE
THE HORRIFYING IMPACT AND OUTCOMES OF SHAME
Fast Forward – what happens to the child living with shame, living in the story of “I’m no good”? School drop out. Negative peer influences. Addiction. Low-income jobs – forever. Habitual unemployment. Incarceration. And – it pains me to write – suicide. UGH. BLEAK! I bet you are in touch with my sadness. Perhaps you are also sensing my frustration …
MANY CHILDREN LEARN TO READ FROM EXPOSURE AND PRACTISE, BUT UP TO 20% NEED SOMETHING MORE – AND DIFFERENT!
A BROKEN SYSTEM
There is so much we know about literacy, how children develop, and how children learn. The state of literacy should NOT be as dismal as it is. Here is what we KNOW:
SPEECH AND LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT DRIVES LITERACY DEVELOPMENT – THEY ARE INSEPARABLE.
SPEECH AND LANGUAGE DELAYS PREDICT PROBLEMS WITH READING, WRITING AND SPELLING. – We can identify these children before pre-school and begin to help them EARLY! – The latest research is showing that the difficulties underlying dyslexia are rooted in language.
SPEECH-LANGUAGE EXPERTS PROVIDE A UNIQUE APPROACH THAT IS CUSTOM-TAILORED TO INDIVIDUAL LEARNING NEEDS.
A READING PROGRAM MUST BE CUSTOM-TAILORED – The plan must fit an individual’s learning profile to be effective – In almost all programs, every student gets the same thing! – NOT ONE single reading system, product, boxed kit, foundation, or organization is working effectively for ALL kids that have trouble learning to read.
TEACHING SPEECH FIRST IS NATURAL, BIOLOGICAL, BUILT-IN, AND BEGINS IN THE FIRST YEAR OF LIFE!
A SPEECH-FIRST SYSTEM WORKS! We have speech and language centres built-in to the brain. We are biologically hard wired to learn how to speak and use language – from our first year of life – A speech first approach leverages our biological wiring. We teach the SOUNDS of English first, and then match those sounds to LETTERS. – This is natural, and logical!
TEACHING LETTERS FIRST RELIES ON RECOGNIZING THE WAY LETTERS AND WORDS LOOK. THIS IS A FOREIGN ACTIVITY FOR THE BRAIN.
A LETTER-FIRST SYSTEM DOESN’T WORK, OR WORKS VERY SLOWLY. All other programs use a letter-first approach which teaches the alphabet first. The alphabet is an artificial, man-made symbols system. It is confusing, complex, and flawed! A letter-first system tries to leverage letters – but there is no built-in letter centre in the brain to leverage! The child must learn letter names, ALL the different sounds a particular letter can make, and then try to apply those artificial symbols to spoken sounds and words. We are asking children to REVERSE-ENGINEER these new letters on a page and FIT THEM to words they already know – from speaking! Children have artificial letter symbols pressed upon them and are left to struggle, to figure out how to read by deciphering the dastardly code through memory and guesswork. Talk about frustrating!
BRAIN SCANS PROVE THAT INTENSIVE SPEECH AND LANGUAGE INSTRUCTION CHANGES HOW THE BRAIN WORKS
SPEECH-LANGUAGE EXPERTS PROVIDE AN INTEGRATED APPROACH – Children see, hear, say, and write words during instruction to learn sounds, meaning, and letter patterns all at the same time. Our unique multi-linguistic, multi-sensory approach connects different areas of the brain – simultaneously. A speech-first approach to literacy focuses on recognizing the way words sound, connecting sounds to letters, and connecting both to the meaning of words. This is how the brain LEARNS – different areas of the brain must communicate with each other. Our teaching activates several areas of the brain simultaneously – causing them to wire together into fast, automatic firing patterns. Our approach ANCHORS the words firmly in LONG-TERM MEMORY because so much linguistic information is packaged together in accessible ways, providing several HOOKS for it.
EXIT STAGE LEFT
ALL OTHER PROGRAMS USE A “STAGE” MODEL – In other programs and systems, skills are taught sequentially, in stages. Instruction focuses on one discrete skill at a time, and then that skill is ABANDONED. This is detrimental to learning if a skill isn’t 100% consolidated. It also impacts performance because it is not FUNCTIONAL. Children may learn discrete skills this way, but skills are not learned in a way that has them become integrated and applied within reading and writing tasks! Skills don’t get used simultaneously and constructively! These children may succeed on telling you spelling facts, or excel on practised spelling tests, but in the actual real world performance of applying skills, (such as writing a story), this deficit WILL show up. IT IS TIME TO EXIT STAGE LEFT FROM FLAWED AND ARCHAIC PRACTISES AND APPROACHES!
YOU MUST BE ABLE TO APPLY THESE SPEECH-LANGUAGE SKILLS TO BE ABLE TO READ: IDENTIFY LETTER SYMBOLS, RETRIEVE CORRESPONDING SOUNDS, AND CONNECT MEANING.
LET THE SPEECH – LANGUAGE PATHOLOGIST BE IN CHARGE! WHAT WORKS:
– Having a Speech – Language Pathologist assess students to find out WHAT THEY KNOW and HOW THEY LEARN.
– Having a speech-language EXPERT coaching, training, and teaching children the skills they need, IN THE WAY that they learn.
– A functional, integrated, multi-linguistic training program that starts with speech-first!
ONE MORE TIME – HOW TO TEACH A CHILD TO READ – PROPERLY
Speech-Language Experts leverage built-in structures with a speech-first approach. We teach from the underlying theory that children first need knowledge about the way words SOUND. Kids know how to say words, and they know which sounds they can hear in words. We teach them to identify sounds FIRST, and then to match those sounds to letters AFTER. This works magically, because we already have a space reserved in the brain for this learning to take place! Logical! Brilliant! Genius! It’s revolutionary, cutting-edge, and yet it is leveraging the human system that emerged thousands of years ago. Remember, we have a BUILT-IN SPEECH CENTRE for sounds, but the brain doesn’t HAVE a letter centre!
YOUR CHILD’S FUTURE BEGINS WITH YOUR EDUCATION OK! This rant is nearly finished. My frustration is gone, although I’m feeling a little resigned. Even defeated. We have seen that the system is BROKEN, and we know what is wrong with it. Will you help me get the word out? Will you try something NEW, LOGICAL, and RESEARCH-BASED to help your child? Will you PLEASE let a speech – language expert help your child? And then, PLEASE pay it forward to help the next child and family!
Who do YOU want teaching a multi-linguistic speech-first approach to your child?
Say it with me:
A Speech-Language expert should be in charge of my child’s reading program.
A Speech-Language expert should be in charge of my child’s reading program.
A Speech-Language expert should be in charge of my child’s reading program!
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Check out our blog post for the Top 5 Reasons a Speech – Language Pathologist should be in charge of your child’s learning program