Saturday, 15 August 2009

The First week

The first week must introduce the children to letter names. The children, all of them, learn the alphabet song quite easily. A good place to start is the ABC song done to the Twinkle... twinkle little star tune. See

Once the alphabet is clear and easily recalled, it is time to move on to the next step- letter names. Now the child needs to identify the letters by the sounds. It is preferable to do three to five letters in one session and build in small increments. Thus, the child would now say the letter sounds

  • A as in cAt
  • B as in Bat
  • C as in Cat etc
It does help to have picture cues for the child to start with. Gradually the picture cues will not be needed and can be done away with.

When the letter sounds are clear and the letters can be read as letter names ( sounds), the next step can be introduced.

This will need to be repeated and revised everyday for at least a month for difficult children and as little as a week for children with a strong sense of language.

Early clues to dyslexia may include a delay in speech. Later, baby talk that persists beyond a reasonable age may indicate some problem in language processing, too. These children also have a difficulty in sound letter association so that recognition and understanding of rhyming words may not be easy. The sensitivity to and recognition of rhyme indicates that the child is developing an awareness that words have component sounds and these sounds can be broken down.

Thus, present words like cat and bat, and ask your child whether they sound similar. Explain that a similar ending sound means rhyming. When the child seems to understand this move on to more familiar words- walk and talk. Also present some words with common beginner phonemes rather than endings and ask whether these rhyme. So you could present bit and boon with the bit and pit and ask the child which is the matching pair.

You could start working on building your own lists. Roughly these lists should fall into three categories:
  • Rhyming words
  • Alliterative words
  • Phonetically Unrelated words
Thus a rhyming word pair list would have examples like
  • Car, Bar
  • Mat, Hat
  • Bet Let
  • Get Pet
  • Let Met
  • Hit Pit
  • Kit Lit
  • Pot Lot
  • Cot Not
  • Hut But
  • Cut Gut
Once the rhyme is clear as a word ending sound, move on to introduce letter combinations:
TH- the, this, that, them, these, those, with, Beth, Math, path
take care that you focus on word beginnings and endings specifically. Help the child identify patterns and sequencing. Take him through baby steps. Help her identify the phoneme being introduced. It is now time to introduce words with these phonemes in the middle... Bethlehem, Wither, weather, bother, brother, mother, father. spend a week on one phoneme. Go slow. Allow the child time to understand the sequence of sounds. Do not insist on correct written spelling for the time being. There will be the time for that, too. Let reading become more natural and effortless before insisting on correct written form from children.

SH- Shop, Shoe, Shampoo, wash, wish, bash, washer, bashful
Try to introduce these concepts with familiar words. This makes it easy for the kids to follow the words and the phonemes. Always introduce the sequence in this order- beginning, end and the middle. Repeat. reinforce.

CH- chop, Chicken, which, watch, CHurCH, watchful

Finally, we must understand that a dyslexic KNOWS what he or she wants to say, it is pulling out of the correct word from the memory bank that is defective. So constant MULTI SENSORY INPUT is the only way around the difficulty. Repetition is never too much for these children. They can often IDENTIFY the correct word from a set of words. So show a child a written word, write it in front of him, use magnetic letters that the child can feel, encourage the child to write his own letters and say the sounds.

For the first month of a reading programme with an early reader, this is as much as a child may be able to digest. All this will need to be repeated in varying degrees throughout the programme to keep the circuits fresh and open.

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