daily practice Archives - Lexercise

Spaced Out Practice, Not Spaced-Out Kids!

Spaced Out LearningYou’ve probably heard this advice about studying for an exam:

Don’t cram. Study a little every day. And get enough sleep!  

But reading and spelling skills are not like math, science or history facts—or are they? What does memory research have to say about how we can best help children improve reading, spelling and writing skills?

Spaced out practice, the opposite of cramming,  supports memory, so it applies to any skill, including playing a musical instrument or mastering a sport.  This is why piano teachers give their students practice to do everyday and why soccer practice is not scheduled for just once a week.

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In his guest post, Spacing in Teaching Practice, Jonathan Firth, a psychologist and teacher, reviews the history and research that dates from the 1800s, when early psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus first tested how people remember information. His research on how well people  remember nonsense syllables showed a “spacing effect”.

Today, after thousands of studies on human memory, we know much more about how practice helps us transfer information into long term memory and how to design practice that is as effective as possible. We know that sleep is important for memory transfer and that the way we use our digital devices and media can disrupt the type of sleep that supports memory. (Read this article to find out more about how sleep supports memory.)

Decoding and spelling can put high demands on memory, especially for students who have not yet mastered these skills to an automatic, effortless level.  It’s no wonder that parents tell us that their struggling student is exhausted after school!  Developing readers and spellers must juggle a lot of complex information, like:

  • letters names and what sounds they can represent (For example, the letter -a- can represent a number of sounds, as in bat, bar, bail, bay, about…)
  • how to write each letter correctly (for example, -d- versus -b-)
  • how neighboring sounds and letters relate to spelling and pronunciation (For example, -ck- is used only following a vowel)
  • how syllable patterns relate to pronouncing and spelling words (For example, the 2nd vowel sound in rabbit is spelled -i- but sounds like “uh”)
  • how to spell when adding a suffix (for example, bat→ batting)
  • how to read and spell common, old words that have unexpected patterns (for example,  said)
  • when to spell with capital letters and when not to
  • when and how to use punctuation      

And, of course, all this (and much more!) must be done fluently and automatically so there is memory capacity left over to process the meaning of words, sentences and paragraphs!

Practice is absolutely essential to developing expertise, but 2 hours of concentrated practice may be exhausting and not work as well as 15 -30 minutes a day of well-designed, “spaced out” practice.  In other words, to keep from spacing out the child, space out the practice!

Lexercise Structured Literacy Teletherapy is designed with a little practice everyday. Here is a Lexercise blog series with information about how well-designed practice supports memory and learning.

You can learn more about Lexercise Structured Literacy Teletherapy and even schedule a free 15-minute consultation with a Lexercise dyslexia therapist here.

Word Games for Children

Word Games for DyslexicsWord games are a fun and useful way to get your child to practice their skills outside of school. Practice is an essential part of the Orton-Gillingham method, so in order to get the most out of your child’s sessions, everyday practice is necessary. After a long day at school, more academic work can become frustrating, but educational games are both fun and valuable. The following games are focused for kids eight and older.

PARTNER GAMES

Words with friends

This game resembles Scrabble but your opponent does not have to be in the room with you. Your child will be tasked with making words out of the letters they are given and the letters on the board. Words with friends practices spelling, which is pivotal to a dyslexic’s development.

8720604364_2ebdc6df85_oDraw Something

Draw Something is like electronic Pictionary. Your remote partner draws out a word in a set amount of time for you to guess– and vice versa. Visualization is important for dyslexics to practice so that they can associate an image with a word. This game will help your child with spelling and vocabulary. This game can also be played with pen and paper at home.

INDIVIDUAL GAMES

Knoword

This game will most likely be challenging for your dyslexic child, but a challenge can be good! The object of Knoword is to complete as many words as possible by guessing a word based on its definition and first letter. This game requires quick thinking skills and will exercise their vocabulary, spelling, analytical, observational and typing skills.

Boggle Bash

In this game, your child will try and create as many words as they can with their given letter tiles before their time is up. This is great spelling and word processing practice.

Lexercise incorporates daily practice games in our online therapy program. We aim to make practicing vocabulary, imagery, spelling, and morphology fun! To learn more about our Lexercise program, speak to a therapist here.