Sight Word Practice Tips for Parents

sight-words

Lots of the top 100 most frequently used words in English have at least one irregular spelling element.  These words are not only common words today but they are often words that have been around a long, long time. Words that are not perfectly phonetic (spelled the way they sound) are sometimes called “irregular” or “sight words”.  Even so, most irregular words also have some regular spelling patterns. While the irregular element(s) must be learned “by heart”,  the rest of the word can be sounded out as usual.

Ask your child to draw a heart around the letter(s) that make up the irregular spelling element.  said-sight-word

For example, in the word <said>, the <s> and the <d> can be sounded out but the <ai> vowel can not be. So, draw a heart around the <ai> and discuss that spelling element with your student. In the word <said> the “irregular” element is the vowel, and it sounds like a short <e>, but it is spelled <ai> !

To remember irregular spelling patterns it can help to create a mental image of the word. Use your mind’s whiteboard! Then connect that mental image to the word’s pronunciation and the printed word on the page.

Knowing a little about the word’s history can help, too. Many words that are phonetically irregular today are words that have been in English for centuries and that have changed over time.

history-998337_1280For example, the way we pronounce the vowel in the word <said> today is related to the way it was spelled before the year 900!  Back then this word was spelled with an <e>:  <seyen> or <seggen>. (I’m just saying…. the spelling of this word has changed over the centuries but the pronunciation of the vowel has not.)

Dictionary.com is a good source of information about word history. It has a section on the origin in every word entry. Here is the Dictionary.com entry for <said>.

If you notice your child is having difficulty reading or remembering sight words it may you can screen them for dyslexia in 10-15 minutes for free here. 

FAQ Friday: Is the term ‘individual’ important in my Child’s IEP?

one-on-one learningThe short answer: YES!

In 1984, Benjamin S. Bloom published a report in Educational Researcher (Vol. 13, No. 6) that examined the benefits of one-on-one education. “The 2 Sigma Problem: The Search for Methods of Group Instruction as Effective as One-to-One Tutoring” concluded that students taught one-on-one WAY out-perform the vast majority of students taught in groups.

In close to 30 years since Bloom’s report, the evidence keeps stacking up in favor of one-on-one education, especially with children who struggle to read, write and spell — children with dyslexia, dysgraphia and other language-processing disorders. But one-on-one education is not a magic bullet. There ARE no magic bullets. Naturally, the content of teaching matters a lot and good group instruction might very well be more effective than poor one-on-one instruction.

In fact, many parents don’t realize that a public school child who has an Individual Education Plan (IEP) is very unlikely to get any “individual education.” IEPs are almost always carried out in groups and often, because they have to address the needs of a diverse group, the teaching methods are often very similar to the methods used in general education.

What makes one-on-one instruction so much more effective than group education for building basic language-literacy skills?

There are a number of possibilities, but one of the most likely is that one-on-one instruction gives the child a lot more of the essential practice known as response challenges. (A response challenge is when the child is asked to respond in a way that demonstrates his or her knowledge and/or skill.) Response challenges are usually accompanied by immediate feedback, which is known to be important for building a skill. (In contrast, “homework” is practice, but usually without immediate feedback and sometimes without any feedback.) It stands to reason that there might be more opportunities for response challenges in one-on-one interchanges than in group settings.

Professor John Hattie has studied performance indicators to evaluate teaching methods — using evidence to build and defend a model of teaching and learning. (Teachers toolbox reprints a chart of Hattie’s effect sizes here.) While Hattie asserts that, when you look at a large population of children, “almost everything works” to some degree, certainly some teaching methods are more effective for some children.

As Brandt Redd comments in a July 2012 blog post that considers Hattie’s list of effects, “The top five influences all involve adapting the experience according to individual student needs.” That brings us right back to the close observation and feedback that’s possible only in one-on-one education.

Adapting learning to the individual student’s needs is basically what Lexercise is all about! Lexercise’s online services for struggling readers, writers and spellers are a motivating blend of high-touch and high-tech.

If your child has difficulty reading, writing or spelling, Lexercise can help. Take a look at our Online Dyslexia Testing and Treatment page or request a free consult at this link.