Helping 8 year old at home

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brady5
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Helping 8 year old at home

Post by brady5 » Mon Aug 09, 2010 4:47 pm

Hi everybody, Im new here and just looking for support and advice for my son who is 8 and has been struggling to read and write. I am not a teacher and don't have much experience in synthetic phonics or other methods.

History
When my son was younger, his speach was not always very clear and he couldnt seem to get his mouth around some words. Christmas, for example, was "ismus." Although his speach is pretty clear now, he still has trouble breaking up sounds of whole words. Today he asked how to spell octopus. I asked him to breakup the sounds oc-to-pus, to which he replied oc-do-bus, although he can say octopus as a whole word quite clearly.

In foundation 2 he was taught Jolly Phonics but had a lot of trouble when it came to blending the sounds together. I dont know if Jolly Phonics was carried on in year 1, but my son had lots of support in small groups. At the beginning of Y2 he began Reading Recovery. He made some progress with this but not as much as expected. Although RR wasn't a great success, it did flag up some of the issues that was making it so hard for my son to learn to read. He had an assesssment following RR which identified that my son has Scotoptic Sensitivity Syndrome. He now has tinted lenses which are helping him a lot. Once the RR programe ended, my son stopped progressing.

At the beginning of Y3, he was still working from an IEP and had lots of small group work with a teacher. The school decided to have him assessed and my son met the Education Psychologist in May this year. Following his assessment the Ed Phyc reported that my son "is experiencing specific learning difficulties of a dyslexic nature. These are in both the auditory and spacial domain. he has a weak short term memory and therefore struggles to retain a sequence of digits or letters with more than four elements in them." I understand the auditory problems as highlighted above and I understand the poor short term memory but I dont really understand the spacial domain.

Last July I decided that I wanted to do something more to help my son at home but didnt know where to turn. I wasn't interested in finding a lable for him, I just wanted to help my son learn to read independantly. I wasn't confident to teach him myself but I didn't think a tutor once a week was the best option either. After searching the internet, I came accross Easyread, a web based site which offered daily lessons and used a synthetic phonics approach. It came with a money back guarentee and offered lots of fun prizes to keep my son engaged. We have been working through this and are almost at the end of the course. He has done well on Easyread, but I do feel that he is not confident enough to read independantly from books and still needs support, especially in writing and spelling.

I am now looking at ways to carry on working with my son at home when Easyread finishes. I want to move on to helping him more with spelling and writing and also continue improving his reading. I looked at Phonics International, but without going right back to the basics again, I wouldn't know where to start and in all honesty, the amount of resourses put me off a bit. I also looked at the BRI/ARI books mentioned on this forum. I think the ARI books would be perfect to carry on his reading progress but I dont think they would help much with spelling. Ive also glanced at Dancing Bears.

Can anybody guide me on what I should do next, what are the best resourses which, are good value for money. Also can anybody help me understand how my son's problems highlighted in his assessment affect his ability to learn. I dont believe he cant learn to read and write, I just think its going to take a lot of time and effort, but understanding his weakness's will help me be more patient and understanding.

Thank you.

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maizie
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Re: Helping 8 year old at home

Post by maizie » Mon Aug 09, 2010 10:28 pm

brady5 wrote:Following his assessment the Ed Phyc reported that my son "is experiencing specific learning difficulties of a dyslexic nature. These are in both the auditory and spacial domain. he has a weak short term memory and therefore struggles to retain a sequence of digits or letters with more than four elements in them." I understand the auditory problems as highlighted above and I understand the poor short term memory but I dont really understand the spacial domain.
I would understand problems in the spatial domain to mean that a child had poor awareness of the relationship 'in space' of one object to another. For instance, if asked to jump over a line s/he might start the jump much too early and land on the line, or start too late and be on the line before the jump starts. Or, if they had to catch a ball they would be unable to judge where it was most likely to finish its trajectory and hold out their hands in the wrong place. On paper, if they were given a circle and asked to place a cross in the centre they would place it to one side or another of the centre. Quite what this has to do with reading I am not sure, though I can see it could affect writing.
brady5 wrote:In foundation 2 he was taught Jolly Phonics but had a lot of trouble when it came to blending the sounds together.
Is he able to blend sounds now? Was there any emphasis on blending in the Easy Read programme?
brady5 wrote:Today he asked how to spell octopus. I asked him to breakup the sounds oc-to-pus, to which he replied oc-do-bus, although he can say octopus as a whole word quite clearly.
That is not too surprising as /t/ and /d/ are very close, one is 'voiced' and the other isn't; /p/ and /b/ are very close too. Is he generally able to distinguish between sounds, though? You clearly recognise that he needs to be able to identify separate sounds for spelling - is his hearing OK? I wonder if that is why the assessment said that he had difficulties in the auditory domain? Did the Easy Read programme do any work on hearing the individual 'sounds' in words? It is a trained skill which doesn't come naturally. If your son has hearing problems he may need to be thinking about the 'feel' of each sound and how he produces it (lip position, tongue position & airflow) in order to discriminate them.

Has the Easy Read programme introduced the 160ish common spellings for the 44 sounds? If you are not sure, have a look at this chart on the RRF home page which gives an overview of the 44 sounds and the most common ways of representing each of them.
brady5 wrote:He has done well on Easyread, but I do feel that he is not confident enough to read independantly from books
It would be helpful to know in what way he is not confident enough to read independently. Does he, for example, struggle to work out unfamiliar words?

I would thoroughly recommend the ARI books for reading practice and to extend his learning.

For spelling I have seen Apples & Pears (the companion to Dancing Bears) recommended.

If you feel able to answer my queries we may (because I hope a few more people are going to join in here!) be able to give you more specific help and advice.

brady5
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Re: Helping 8 year old at home

Post by brady5 » Tue Aug 10, 2010 8:14 pm

Hi Maizie. Thank you for the explanation on spacial domain, I can understand how that might effect my son in day to day activities.

He is now pretty good at blending sounds together. Sometimes he still finds it hard blending sounds of difficult or unfamiliar words. Especially words with 3 or more syllables, as he doesnt know where the sounds break up. I suppose this is something that will improve with practice. Sometimes he will add sounds which are not there when he is trying to blend. B's and T's are the main culprit. I dont know why he does this.

Easyread always encourage children to blend words and tell them never to guess. They have animated charactors for each of the 44 sounds rather than just the 26 letters in the alphabet. They teach children through daily reading practice and a variety of games. The stories are written with the charactors representing the sounds floating above the words. For instance, the word eight would have the charactors that represent the long A sound and the t sound.

As we are working through stories, I dont have a list of all the common spellings we have encounted, but would hazzard a guess to say we have come across most of the spelling rules you mentioned. We still have about 6-8 weeks left on the course. At the level we are on now, one day he decodes the story through the picture charactors and the next day we read the same text with only the words. We can click on the word to display the charactors if my son has trouble sounding out.

The games do a bit of work on listening and looking for the individual sounds but as it is taught through a computer I dont think it is as effective as working in real life. From what I understand, my son doesn't have a problem hearing (he has had a hearing test) it is a problem processing what he has heard. I think he would benefit a lot from a multi sensory approach like you described, Im not sure how I would go about it though.

When he is asked to read from a book such as a small chapter book, he complains and makes a fuss. When he begins reading he can manage most of the words but after a few minutes he will revert to guessing or begins to struggle. I dont know whether he just panics, or whether the smaller print is harder for him to concentrate on. I think it is probably a bit of both. I have a Kindle and we have a few Roald Dahl books on it. We can make the text quite big so there is only a few words on each page, but he still complains because he knows it is a long story. I know Roald Dahl is not the easiest reading material but he does tend to panic before he has even tried.

If you have any other questions please feel free to ask. Thank you again, any advice is greatly appreciated.

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maizie
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Re: Helping 8 year old at home

Post by maizie » Tue Aug 10, 2010 11:13 pm

brady5 wrote:At the level we are on now, one day he decodes the story through the picture charactors and the next day we read the same text with only the words. We can click on the word to display the charactors if my son has trouble sounding out.
Hmmm. I wonder if he is relying more on those characters for decoding than he is on letter/sound correspondence knowledge? It is my experience, with many children, that children are reluctant to read because they find it hard. And they usually find it hard because they really are not secure with their letter/sound correspondences so are not confident about decoding.

Right, these are what I was looking for, assessment sheets

http://syntheticphonics.com/pdf%20files ... et%201.pdf

The above link links to a sheet with the common correspondences and exemplar words (so that it is easy to work out what the lettrs are representing even if you are not too sure yourself!)

http://syntheticphonics.com/pdf%20files ... sounds.pdf

This is similar but with no exemplar words. To find out if he really does know the correspondences (rather than being reliant on the characters) ask him to give you the sound(s) for each letter or group of letters. If he struggles with this it will tell you which ones he needs to learn (without the characters!).

I'm afraid I am not expert on the physical production of speech, but you can get a fair way on common sense - experiment with each sound and note what you need to do to produce it. If you knew a tame Speech Therapist it would be a great help ;-)

When you are asking him to identify the sounds in a spoken word it is best to try and break the word into individual sounds; your 'octopus' would be o,c,t,o,p,u,s. If he actually says 'b' for 'p' you can either try to help him to pronounce the sound correctly, or you could say that, for him, the sound 'b' can be spelled with a 'p' sometimes!
brady5 wrote:Sometimes he will add sounds which are not there when he is trying to blend. B's and T's are the main culprit. I dont know why he does this.


Children very often do this when they are trying to memorise the sounds rather than reading them off the page. This might seem a bit difficult to understand. I'll try to explain. Some children sound out the word, then look away and try to blend the sounds from memory. This is not reliable as they don't always remember the sounds in the right order, and, they put sounds in which aren't there, or, they miss out sounds which should be there. There is no need for the sounds to be memorised, all the child has to do is read them, repeatedly if necessary, and blend while looking at the letters. You could try 'progressive blending', where the child builds up the word bit at a time e.g. 'happy', decode & blend the first 2 letters, 'ha', when that is secure, add the next sound, 'happ', when that is secure, add the next 'happy'. Less chance to add in or leave out sounds. Always get him to re-read the word once he has worked it out, it helps to get it into long term memory.

brady5
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Re: Helping 8 year old at home

Post by brady5 » Mon Aug 16, 2010 9:02 am

Hi Maizie,

I think you're right about relying on the charactors. The format has changed slightly to stop children doing this, and he is decoding much better. to give you an idea of what he can read, here is an abstract from his last lesson which he read without the help of the charactors.

There was nothing to be done. They had accepted the challenge and it was their fault that they had not worked at improving their design. Soon Sneedo had joined them at the top, smiling in his disgusting way.

I have worked through the sheet with the common correspondences and exemplar words. I first asked him to read the words and then asked him what the sounds were. He knew most of the correspondences. The ones he didn't know were;

igh for night (but he could read night)
gi for giraffe
ch for chef
u for unit (he kept reading the word as until)
are for stare
au for haunt
ear for fear
cy for cycle
gh for tough (but when sounding out igh, he told me that gh makes a ff sound)
cious fri precious
tion for station

We didnt work through the lists of words at the end. He would be ok with the common words that come up in text a lot, but not the others. He would have no idea how to spell any of those words.

I have ordered set one in the ARI books. Hopefully they will give him the right help.

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maizie
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Re: Helping 8 year old at home

Post by maizie » Mon Aug 16, 2010 9:58 am

brady5 wrote:I have worked through the sheet with the common correspondences and exemplar words. I first asked him to read the words and then asked him what the sounds were.
Aahh. The sheet with the exemplar words was for you! Never mind.

He needs to be able to respond to each grapheme (letter or group of letters) with all the sounds that the grapheme represents and to be able to run through those choices when he encounters a written word that looks unfamiliar.

Saying 'until' for 'unit' is a bit complicated because there are two things going on there:

1)If he had the sounds for the letter 'u' established as /y oo/(human) and /u/ (bun) he should have tried them both with the word 'unit'. I presume that 'unit' is in his speaking vocabulary, if it is he would have recognised it when he tried it with the /y oo/ sound.

2) The fact that he got most of the rest of the word wrong tells me that he was guessing it, not reading off the graphemes from left to right. I find that children do this quite a lot when they don't have the habit of sounding out and blending all through the word firmly established. Given what you have said about his early reading experiences I would suspect that the school was not rigorous about insisting that all words were sounded out and blended this way so he's developed a guessing habit. It is not too late to do anything about this, you just have to be tough with him for a while! One of your best weapons is covering up the word he is guessing and disclosing it grapheme by grapheme, so forcing him to decode it properly.

I was very impressed with the example of the passage he read. There's not much wrong if he can manage that, just needs some filling in of his gaps in phonic knowledge and lots of practice in decoding all through the word. ARI will be very helpful.

brady5
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Re: Helping 8 year old at home

Post by brady5 » Mon Aug 16, 2010 11:51 am

brady5 wrote:
I have worked through the sheet with the common correspondences and exemplar words. I first asked him to read the words and then asked him what the sounds were.


Aahh. The sheet with the exemplar words was for you! Never mind.

He needs to be able to respond to each grapheme (letter or group of letters) with all the sounds that the grapheme represents and to be able to run through those choices when he encounters a written word that looks unfamiliar.
Maizie, I think I would be rubbish myself at responding to the grapheme without the exemplar words :oops:

He was definatly guessing when reading unit. Normally I would say to him "the u make a, y oo sound like in unicorn," and them get him to read the word again looking at the letters closer and making him sound out the words.

He had a lot of bad habits 12 months ago and was guessing most words. When he did Reading Recovery, he was encouraged to look for clues in the pictures and text. He is much better now but can sometimes revert back to guessing.

He needs to be able to respond to each grapheme (letter or group of letters) with all the sounds that the grapheme represents and to be able to run through those choices when he encounters a written word that looks unfamiliar
.

I think this is exactly where he is up to. Working through the different sounds that each grapheme represents, is where I seem to be helping him. He will try to work out an unfamiliar word and will encounter a grapheme which has more than one sound. If he picks the sound that is wrong, he doesnt always have the skill to choose another sound. I will point out the correct sound and ask him to try again. This is normally all the help he needs, unless it is a complicated word with multple graphemes with multiple sounds.

Thank you for all your advice. I will keep you informed as to how he manages with ARI. I am still deciding which programme to use for spelling. Piper books have a spelling programme also, so if my son likes the books, I might use ARI Spell alongside.

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Re: Helping 8 year old at home

Post by maizie » Mon Aug 16, 2010 12:12 pm

brady5 wrote:Maizie, I think I would be rubbish myself at responding to the grapheme without the exemplar words :oops:
That's why the crib sheet with the words on was for you, not him :lol:

You sound as though you are doing all the right things.

I'm not too convinced by the Easyread programme (I think it looks unnecessarily complex), but it has provided a structure for you and has obviously worked to a large extent.

Do keep us posted on how he progresses.

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