books Archives - Lexercise

Are Dyslexia Fonts Helpful?

are-dyslexia-fonts-helpfulWe don’t know yet. They may be, but they also may not. There are some sites that will let you download them for free but there is no scientific evidence supporting their claims. Dyslexie and OpenDyslexic are two of the services that supply free fonts. But they have not had any research published on their fonts. This is crucial because peer-reviewed articles are highly respected and reliable when it comes to new research. News entities and social media outlets get so excited about new findings but fail to mention that these are not researched and supported accommodations or solutions to dyslexia.

Though Dyslexie’s research has not been published in a journal, there has been some research done that seems to be promising. To be clear, this font is not an intervention or solution to dyslexia, but it may make reading a bit easier.

11949868361000070562abc_blocks_petri_lummema_01-svg-medAccording to understood.org, Here are some of the ways the creators of these fonts say they differ from traditional fonts:

  • Parts of the letters have thicker lines.
  • Letters are slanted a bit, such as a lowercase L that leans to the left.
  • Letters that have sticks and tails, such as b, d and p, vary in length

 

 

Fonts, colored overlays, and vision therapy are all ways NOT to treat dyslexia. A child with dyslexia needs a very specific method of teaching to learn how to read, write and spell in a way that their brain is wired to learn. If you would like more information about our research-backed dyslexia therapy please visit us here.

Five Must-Read Books for Dyslexics and Their Parents

must-read books for dyslexics and parentsEveryone needs a role model who shares similar struggles, even if they are fictional characters. The following five books revolve around a dyslexic character who faces his or her disability head-on. They are designed to be relatable and give young dyslexics the courage to try new things and believe in themselves.

1. The Lightning Thief  by Rick Riordan

the lightning thief book coverThis book is about a dyslexic, ADHD boy who thinks he is simply average but discovers he is a demigod. His triumphs will remind your child that anything is possible even when you have a learning disability. This series follows Percy Jackson through his adventures. The series even has a few box-office movies that may pique your child’s interest.

 

 

 

2. It’s Called Dyslexia by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos

it's called dyslexia book coverThis children’s book packs a sweet and intricate story into 36 pages. This author does similar books on multiple types of disorders. The story features a young student who knows the alphabet but can’t quite put the letters together to form words and sentences. She gets increasingly frustrated until her teacher explains that she has dyslexia and gets her the help she needs.

 

 

3. Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester

tacky the penguin book coverTacky is a penguin that doesn’t always do everything right. His perfect friends pick on him for being different, but it is his outlier personality that ends up saving the day. This is a cute story driving home the message to simply be yourself no matter what.

 

 

 

 

4. Author A True Story by Helen Lester

author a true story book coverThis book is by the same author as Tacky the Penguin, but this time, her story is about her. She struggled to write as a young girl because she had reading disabilities but ended up becoming a successful author. In the book, she even gives tips on how to write when it is frustrating for you to do so.

 

 

 

5. What is Dyslexia by Alan M. Hultquist

what is dyslexia book coverThis book is unique in the sense that it is specifically written for parents to read with their children. It is informative but does not talk down to the children accompanying their parents in reading. It also includes activities for parents and children to do together.


All photos are credited to Amazon.com

Metacognition Creates Independent Learners

 How to Correct Your Child Without Discouraging them (4)

Metacognition is the awareness and understanding of one’s own thought processes– there are three ways of going about this. But unfortunately, public schools usually only teach one.

Ron Ritchhart, a Project Zero senior research associate at the Learning and Brain Conference, said that if students don’t have metacognition strategies, then they are are waiting for someone to direct our thinking. In short, he said that these strategies help students become more independent learners.

His theory is that if educators can make thinking more visible, and help students develop routines around thinking, then their thinking about everything will deepen.

Public schools only teach “Thinking about thinking” which includes slowing down to take note of how and why students are thinking. It also includes seeing thinking as an action they are taking. When teachers say “show your work” or “write down your process,” they are referring to thinking about thinking.

Monitoring thinking is the second way of reaching metacognition. It’s when a student is reading and stops to realize he’s not really understanding the meaning behind the words.

boy-1126140_960_720The third form is called directing thinking. It happens when students can call upon specific thinking strategies to redirect or challenge their own thinking.

He advocates creating what he calls a “Culture of Thinking” which can exist in any place where learning is a part of the experience.

Ritchhart and his colleagues have been working to zero in on a short list of “thinking moves” related to understanding to help reach metacognition.

  • Naming: being able to identify the parts and pieces of a thing
  • Inquiry: questioning should drive the process throughout
  • Looking at different perspectives and viewpoints
  • Reasoning with evidence
  • Making connections to prior knowledge, across subject areas, even into personal lives
  • Uncovering complexity
  • Capture the heart and make firm conclusions
  • Building explanations, interpretations, and theories.

Using these different techniques will help take your child out of the monotony of a grade school classroom. They will be forced to switch off of autopilot and think about how they are receiving and comprehending information.

Helpful Homework Tips

Helpful Tips for Homework Time (2)
Homework time has the potential to be a stress-free daily activity to share with your child. It does not have to be the tedious task to cross of the to-do list that so many families treat it as. This time is especially important if your child has a reading disorder, so we feel you should be prepared and have some tricks up your sleeve for navigating this after-school requirement.

Before

Go over homework that needs to be done to create a game plan before he or she gets started. This way they will have a clear plan in mind to attack their to-dos. Once you’ve reviewed what your child needs to do, go over how he or she will do it. For example, divide the homework into parts with breaks in between to recharge. Help your child brainstorm ideas they may need for homework to get an educational dialogue started.

During   

If your child is old enough to use a computer, teach them how to use spell check so that they feel more independent while doing their work. Make sure you are available for any questions they may have but don’t do their homework for them. Be sure to praise them for what they have completed. Encourage them to make notes about what they do not understand, so that they can remember to ask their teacher the next school day.

Moving Forward

Help your child organize their notes for each class into separate folders– color coding is suggested but not necessary. Check to see if they are writing down homework tasks in their planner, if not explain how important
that is to be successful in school. To minimize stress in the mornings, pack up their backpack the night before so they are not frazzled entering the classroom.

As you know, you won’t always be by their side when doing academic work– so help them be independent learners. If they are stuck on an individual problem, challenge them to think of multiple correct ways they can complete the task. Remind your child that quality means more than quantity, so there is no need to rush.

If your child is showing the symptoms of dyslexia, you can test him or her with our free screener here. 

The Simple View of Reading

Reading Comprehension (5)It seems as though there is a plethora of reading problems one could be affected by, but through extensive research, Wesley Hoover who wrote the academic paper The Simple View of Reading has categorized them into two main groups: Listening Comprehension and Decoding & Spelling.

Listening comprehension includes skills such as vocabulary, following spoken directions,
and understanding the nuances of a story that is read out loud. Decoding and spelling problems deal with word and sub-word processing.

The formulaReading Comprehension (6)

The Simple View of Reading has a formula that suggests reading comprehension is equal to listening comprehension multiplied by decoding (word recognition).

In recent years, the formula has been tweaked slightly to increase its accuracy by including fluency, word reading speed and spelling– which is another measure of word and sub-word processing.

The application

The Simple View is related to two categories of reading disorders:

  • Listening Comprehension Deficits = Specific Language Impairment (SLI)
  • Word Reading Deficits = Dyslexia

This is important to consider because specific language impairment and dyslexia require dramatically different interventions.

  • Specific Language Impairment (SLI) requires an intervention that strengthens listening comprehension.
  • Dyslexia requires a structured literacy intervention such as the Orton-Gillingham method.

We value your time and resources, so we focus on the side of the formula where intervention can make the biggest difference.  This will differ from person to person, so Lexercise personalizes instruction to each student.

Alternatives to Independent Reading

Alternatives to Independent Reading

Reading is essential for all students to grow academically, but is especially important to dyslexics. However, dyslexics’ difficulties often discourage them to pick up a book in the first place. Thankfully, independent reading is not the only way to expose your child to new vocabulary, ideas and continue to strengthen their literacy skills.

Reading aloud/recorded books:

Listening to books allow children to take in new content and vocabulary without getting frustrated by the speed at which they read. This method also allows children to form a positive relationship with literature, instead of only seeing it as a hurdle needed to be overcome or a source of embarrassment they will learn the entertainment and story connected with reading.

Including children in adult conversations:

Because dyslexics have trouble with written language, they often develop exceptional listening skills. By including them in sophisticated conversations, you can improve on those skills even further. Asking their opinion on the topics you might be discussing will also improve their critical thinking skills.

young studiing boy isolated on white backgroungRadio/podcasts:

According to the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity, dyslexics love being experts on content. Listening to radio shows or podcasts will provide them with a wide variety of knowledge in the topics of their choice, which will help their confidence in the classroom.

Drawing/acting out words:

Visualizing new words will help your child associate a meaning with a fresh vocabulary word. Memorizing the spelling of words does not do that, a child can “fake” that they know the word but they can’t “fake” a picture. Connecting a picture next to the definition is helpful because the word will now be in two different parts of the memory bank.

Though these methods will help your child in their academic journey, there is no substitute for reading. Many children need to be taught to read using a different method. For more information on professional reading intervention click here. 

How to help kids develop a life-long passion for reading

pile of booksAs summer is approaching, now is a great time to think of how you can get your child engaged in reading during summer break. Some of the most powerful and influential time you can spend with your child is reading aloud with them, and summer road trips are the perfect times to captivate your child with the magic of reading.

Long car rides to summer vacation spots can be an extremely valuable time for “reading aloud” to your child via books on tape.  (Turning around and reading to children in the back seat can be both challenging and uncomfortable!)

In the weeks leading up to summer, start thinking ahead about getting some human-read books on tape. Your local library will likely have a section dedicated to this genre of books. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your summer vacation reading:

  • In choosing what books you plan to listen to, involve your child. If your child is “invested” in the book, he or she will be more attentive from the beginning.
  • But also consider something that will appeal to the whole family, as I highly encourage this to be an interactive, full-family activity.
  • Try finding a book that has a plot that is discussable and thought-provoking.
  • While listening in the car, take time to stop the recording and discuss it, perhaps after every chapter. This will help keep your child engaged and excited for the next chapter!

But, also remember that summer offers more reading opportunities than simply car rides! Summer means longer evenings, more light, and a chance to use those precious summer evenings to accomplish something magical. Set up some family rules for keeping the TV off and the books open. Using the last hour of the day as family read-aloud time is a great idea. Make this your sacred time to cuddle up and enjoy the wonders of reading.

In your preparation for summer reading, I also suggest reading Jim Trelease’s classic, The Read-Aloud Handbook. It exposes the benefits and importance of reading aloud to children and offers proven techniques and strategies for helping children discover the pleasures of reading. Not to mention, the last part of the Read-Aloud Handbook is an anthology of books that are powerful for reading aloud.

For more on reading aloud, see my recent post on shared inquiry.

Lexercise’s online services for struggling readers, writers, and spellers are a motivating blend of high-touch and high-tech. If you have questions or to learn more contact me at Info@Lexercise.com or 1-919-747-4557.

Reading Aloud with Your Child: Making the Most of Every Word

reading aloud with your childIf you read my posts with any regularity, my passion for reading aloud will come as no surprise to you. Whether or not your child struggles to read, write or spell, whether or not your child has been diagnosed with dyslexia or another language-processing disorder, reading aloud together builds closeness, improves reading skills and comprehension, and can instill a lifelong love of books.

Many parents get into the habit of reading aloud just until their child falls asleep. While this is certainly a special kind of family intimacy, the practice of reading out loud together can be expanded enormously through what the reading experts at the Great Books Foundation call Shared Inquiry.

 

What is Shared Inquiry?

Through discussion and problem solving, Shared Inquiry turns the simple reading of a book into “a teaching and learning environment, and a way for individuals to achieve a more thorough understanding of a text as readers search for answers to fundamental questions…”

From the earliest age, whatever their reading level, instead of being passive listeners, children can start to develop critical thinking skills. The role of the parent is not to give answers, but to ask thoughtful questions and encourage the child to show how he or she reached the answer. Here are a few tips for getting started:

  • Involve your child in book selection. If your child is “invested” in the book, he or she will be more attentive from the beginning.
  • Before you start reading, reduce distractions by turning off televisions, phones, and other electronic devices and choosing a quiet spot with good reading light.
  • Look at and encourage your child to talk about the cover of the book what’s on it and what it might suggest about the story you’re about to read.
  • As you read, pause and ask your child thought-provoking questions about the story, including what might happen next. Ask your child to show evidence for his or her answers.
  • Talk about language and words and encourage your child to ask about difficult words. Does your child have favorite words from this story? Why? What’s special about those words?
  • As you continue reading, talk about your child’s answers to earlier questions. What happened? Was it a surprise?
  • At the conclusion of the book, encourage your child to talk about the ending, about how the story or the characters might continue, and what he or she learned, disliked, or liked best.

The idea of Shared Inquiry is not for your child to parrot back the “right answers,” but to use the text as a jumping-off place to search out meaning, interpret, stir the imagination and improve comprehension.

To learn more about Shared Inquiry, visit the Great Books Foundation website, where you’ll also find their catalog. For additional information on reading aloud with your child, browse among the many resources on the website of Jim Trelease, author of The Read-Aloud Handbook. Happy reading!

Lexercise’s online, research-based services help struggling readers, writers, and spellers — no matter where they live! Please take a look at our Online Dyslexia Testing and Treatment page or contact me directly at Info@Lexercise.com or 1-919-747-4557.

Dyslexia: Turning to the Experts for Resources

Yale Center - accessing strengths

One of the online dyslexia resources at the top of my list is the website of The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity. Founded by Sally and Bennett Shaywitz, the Center’s mission “is to uncover and illuminate the strengths of those with dyslexia, disseminate information, practical advice, and the latest innovations from scientific research, and transform the lives of children and adults with dyslexia.”

They do a wonderful job, and the website is an easy portal to their ideas and achievements. The site offers an audio version of many of the pages.

On this rich website, you’ll find not only the expected “expert” information, research, and advice, but also tips from the “Real Experts” — students who have dyslexia and share their ideas for effective work and study habits. There are success stories from people of all ages, plus profiles of “famous” dyslexics. There are timely articles on summer planning and on summer programs for dyslexic children. There’s a very helpful guide to reading-related skills, beginning with early pre-school, excellent book lists here, links to articles — and much, much more.

Whatever your most trusted resources, if your child struggles with reading, writing, or spelling, the most important first step is a professional evaluation. No matter where you live, your child can be tested and treated individually, face-to-face, online, by the clinical educators at Lexercise. Learn more here, or contact me directly at Info@Lexercise.com or 1-919-747-4557.

Last-Minute Shopping Ideas

painting of a bookshelfSince you may find yourself looking for those last-minute stocking stuffers, I thought I’d share a list of books priced under $10 for kids who are in the process of growing their language skills.

First, a note: Children with dyslexia need language explained in patterns that are logical, explicit, and systematic. While they may have a terrific vocabulary and be able to understand the meaning of a story when it’s read aloud, they may not be able to read the printed words of the same story from a book without help. So books that might be absolutely great for non-dyslexic children might not the best choice for dyslexic kids. Depending on the age of the child, and perhaps with a little guidance from the child’s clinician, the following books have terrific potential for sharpening linguistic sensors and encouraging young readers and writers!

These books are written to be read with children. Much of their power is in their potential to engage kids, ages about 6 through 9, in conversations about words and language.

  1. Miss Alaineus: A Vocabulary Disaster by Debra Frasier
  2. Punctuation Takes a Vacation by Robin Pulver
  3. Crazy Like a Fox: A Simile Story by Loreen Leedy
  4. Look at My Book: How Kids Can Write & Illustrate Terrific Books by Loreen Leedy
  5. Rip the Page!: Adventures in Creative Writing by Karen Benke
  6. Aunt Isabel Tells a Good One by Kate Duke
  7. Max’s Words by Kate Banks
  8. The Boy Who Loved Words by Roni Schotter
  9. Author: A True Story by Helen Lester
  10. Ish by Peter H. Reynolds
  11. The Girl’s Like Spaghetti by Lynne Truss

 


Happy reading and Happy Holidays! I welcome your comments and invite your questions at Info@Lexercise.com or 1-919-747-4557.

The Reach Out and Read Program

If you’ve read any of my earlier posts (this one, for example), you probably know how deeply I believe in the importance of reading aloud with children. So I was particularly delighted to hear an NBC report by Kevin Tibbles on a program newly implemented at Scott Air Force Base called “Reach Out and Read.”

Reach Out and Read (ROR) was developed in 1989 and introduced at Boston City Hospital (now Boston Medical Center). The idea behind the program is that the value of reading could be promoted through a partnership with pediatricians. It’s simple, really: When children (as young as six months!) visit their pediatrician, they receive a free book, and parents are encouraged to read the book aloud with their child. You might call it “a prescription for reading” – just what the doctor ordered!

In 2011, Reach Out and Read has 4,688 programs and 28,000 volunteer doctors, nurse practitioners, and other medical professionals and has distributed 6.4 million books to 3.9 million children!

Reach Out and Read has now partnered with Joining Forces, a White House effort to support and honor America’s service members and their families. This will double the number of sites in ROR’s Military Initiative by 2013. As the NBC report points out, reading aloud promotes closeness, helps children cope, and helps to bridge the gap when a military parent is away from home on active duty.

You can see Kevin Tibbles’s report, “Making a Difference on the Homefront,” on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams (October 2011) here and find out much more about Reach Out and Read, including local initiatives and coalitions, on the ROR website.

If you have questions about your child’s reading, writing, or spelling skills, or if you would like more information on Lexercise, We’re always happy to hear from you at Info@Lexercise.com or 1-919-747-4557.