Why Recognizing Dyslexia In Children At School Can Be Difficult

When Anna and Chris Thorsen of Nashville sat down for the first parent-teacher conference of their daughter Clara’s second-grade year, they weren’t surprised to hear that Clara was having trouble telling time. Her teacher also said that Clara seemed to learn something one day, then forget it the next; her writing was poor and slanted upward, no matter how hard she tried.
“My husband starts to smile and reaches over and pets my arm, because in that moment, we both know Clara has dyslexia. There’s no question,” said Anna Thorsen.
Thorsen knows something about dyslexia herself, having struggled through school, and having been diagnosed with it at age 27. “It was almost like her teacher was ticking through a dyslexia checklist and didn’t know it.”
In many children with dyslexia, a neurobiological condition in which the brain fails to read words or letters, a lack of swift and intensive intervention can result in reading failure as well as psychological difficulties for the child. When the Thorsens came home from the conference, they decided to get Clara tested immediately and then decide the next steps.

Challenges at School
Getting testing and intervention for dyslexia at their public school proved to be more complicated than it first appeared. The Thorsens experienced more hurdles than they had expected, including the most basic: recognizing that dyslexia exists. Thorsen recalled the Nashville school district telling them that the state of Tennessee didn’t recognize dyslexia as a learning disorder.
But the Thorsens, who are both attorneys, knew differently. The Tennessee statehouse had passed the “Dyslexia is Real” bill some months before, in April 2014. The law made provisions for dyslexia as a recognized reading disability, as well as for teacher training on dyslexia, both for teachers already teaching and in education schools in Tennessee. Yet while provisions had been decided at the state level, for one reason or another, they hadn’t made their way down to the district, which was still operating under old guidelines.
When the Thorsens showed the school and the district laws from both the federal government and the state of Tennessee recognizing dyslexia as a learning disability, their school listened and agreed to help Clara get what she needed. But the family received pushback from the district, which balked at giving Clara, whose tests showed she was highly dyslexic with a high IQ, an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) without going through the proper channel — in this case, 26 weeks of specialized reading instruction happening inside the classroom called Response To Intervention (RTI). If Clara failed to improve after 26 weeks, she would then qualify for an IEP.
With a positive diagnosis in hand, the Thorsens believed that 26 weeks of RTI would only delay a more dyslexia-specific intervention. They enlisted the help of the Office of Special Education Programs at the federal Department of Education to pressure the state of Tennessee to recognize dyslexia as a reading disability, even though the “Dyslexia is Real” law was already firmly in place. After a monthlong struggle to secure services, the district finally relented, giving Clara an IEP that focused on both her dyslexia and her giftedness.
The district said it is only following guidelines set up by the state of Tennessee. “We test for specific learning disabilities in accordance with state guidelines,” said Debbie McAdams, executive director for exceptional education at Metro Nashville Public Schools. “Dyslexia falls under the term ‘Specific Learning Disability’. The universal screening used in MNPS screens for basic reading deficits, including phonemic awareness, phonics, word reading and fluency, which are all deficits associated with dyslexia.” She said that students receive intervention for reading difficulties whether or not they have an IEP.
Dyslexia Recognition Elsewhere
The Thorsens are happy to report that Clara is currently receiving the targeted intervention she needs. But their story is far from singular: Families interviewed across the country reveal that both public and private schools aren’t fully aware of the signs of dyslexia, even though it affects 5-20 percent of schoolchildren. And, once diagnosed, schools are often unsure — or even afraid — of how to intervene. Currently, only 30 states recognize dyslexia as a learning disability.
But, according to Nancy Mather, professor of Disabilities and Psychoeducational Studies at the University of Arizona, screening and intervention, not to mention teacher education, mandated by law is much more uneven across states.
Dyslexia Map
Courtesy of Nancy Mather and Martha Youman (Courtesy of Nancy Mather and Martha Youman)
A disconnect between laws passed at the state or federal level and district enforcement is common, Mather said, and awareness needs to be raised about dyslexia as a learning disability. In an article soon to be published in Perspectives, the journal of the International Dyslexia Association, Mather and colleague Martha Youman highlight the inconsistencies of how dyslexia is defined in different states across the U.S.:
“A number of states have spearheaded the recognition of dyslexia as a unique disorder with prevalence rates varying from 5% to 20% among researchers and national and international organizations. This effort to recognize dyslexia is crucial because, unfortunately, the terminology used to describe reading disorders varies across states and settings. Individuals with dyslexia who are diagnosed in school settings fall under the category of “Specific Learning Disability (SLD),” a category within the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004). Individuals with dyslexia diagnosed in clinical settings fall under the category of Specific Learning Disorder with Impairment in Reading as described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5 (DSM-5) (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Both diagnoses include “dyslexia” as a descriptive term within their definitions, but within school settings, the actual term “dyslexia” is rarely used in psychological and diagnostic reports. Thus, most parents of children who receive special education services at school under the category of SLD in reading have not been informed that their child has dyslexia. Similarly, if a clinical diagnosis of Specific Learning Disorder with Impairment in Reading is made in a clinical setting with DSM-5, parents and teachers may not necessarily understand that this label encompasses dyslexia. With the hopes of separating dyslexia from a large umbrella of learning disorders, the states of Alabama, Illinois, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas, have passed legislation for the recognition of a dyslexia day, week, or month. On such dates, schools and mental health practitioners are encouraged to educate others about the common characteristics of dyslexia, as well as the appropriate accommodations and interventions.”
“Dyslexia is the most common type of learning disability,” Mather said. “Seventy-five to 80 percent of kids with Specified Learning Disabilities (SLD) have some form of dyslexia. But states have all kinds of terminology, and labels differ from state to state, which is why in Tennessee, they said, we don’t have dyslexia. It creates confusion. The parents are told their child has an SLD, but don’t realize their child has dyslexia.”
Even among the state dyslexia laws that do exist, many don’t have much meat on the bone. Passing a law creating “Dyslexia Awareness Month,” Mather said, is nice but isn’t going to do much to help the kids who are sitting in classrooms right now, struggling to read.
“When there’s awareness, you’re more likely to get the right kind of diagnosis and the right kind of teacher,” she said, but much more needs to be done. “Teachers need more training in specific methodologies, teachers need a strong background in language structure. They need very specific training to teach students with dyslexia.”
Advocating for Intervention
Families interviewed for this story reported feelings of panic surrounding the whole issue, from trying to diagnose a failure to read, plus the maze of tests, services and interventions involved, often coming with hefty price tags. Brooklyn parent Zanthe Taylor paid $4,000 for a battery of tests for her daughter, Calliope, when her private school requested independent testing. There were free options for both testing and tutoring, Taylor found out later, but she wasn’t made aware of them. And even the free options came with hurdles: wait lists were impossibly long, and free tutors had to come from a state-approved list.
The Thorsens attempted to get Clara tested at a highly regarded dyslexia clinic in suburban Nashville for $35, but were put on a seven-to-eight-month wait list. Impatient to begin intervention, they opted for a local, private center that provided a comprehensive test in the same week for $800. Both Taylor and the Thorsens also pay for private tutors on top of help received at school.
Experts like Mather and Maryanne Wolf of Tufts University say the core of the panic and confusion from states on down to classrooms can largely be avoided with proper understanding of what dyslexia is and what it isn’t. When schools and educators are properly trained on how to identify the different manifestations of dyslexia and to intervene appropriately, panic dissipates.
They confirmed that what families experienced was real, and part of a bigger picture: Many children aren’t receiving the diagnosis and intervention they desperately need to do well in school, and many families don’t have the means for expensive testing and tutoring.
“The kids don’t get any better, that’s what happens,” Mather said. “That’s the reality — it’s the fortunate few who get some kind of help.”
Mather worked with educational software development company MindPlay to develop a three-hour video course designed specifically for teachers to better understand dyslexia. 
“I think it’s important for teachers to have a basic understanding of dyslexia,” Mather said. “It makes them more empathetic, alerts them that this is a real problem. They may not realize how much it affects students’ self-esteem when everyone can read, and they can’t.”

source: http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2015/10/08/why-recognizing-dyslexia-in-children-at-school-can-be-difficult/


How Schools Can Help Nurture Students’ Mental Health

By the time he entered second grade, Eric had already witnessed graphic violence and watched as his family fell apart. He’d been moved to a new state and a new home, but he wasn’t thriving, especially in school. Eric’s reading level was measured in single digits — that is, below the 10th percentile for children his age.
“He was so preoccupied by the trauma he’d experienced that it was impairing his learning,” says Steve Lepinski, who followed Eric’s progress.
Lepinski runs the Washburn Center for Children, a mental health provider in Minnesota that handled Eric’s case. After receiving intensive therapy, Eric (not his real name) saw his reading level jump to the 90th percentile for his age group. Now “he’s just doing normal third-grade things,” Lepinski adds.
Trauma can be one cause of mental health issues among kids, but there are other sources. Emotional problems are linked to poverty, according to an American Academy of Pediatrics study, and 20 percent of children live in poverty. The same study notes that children whose parents serve in the military are more likely to experience emotional trouble, especially when parents deploy and return.

Fortunately, there are better diagnostics and a greater sensitivity by parents and pediatricians to kids’ well-being; what might have been ignored and untreated decades ago is more apt to be spotted and tended to today. But the attention to these diagnoses also uncovers the reality that the youth population feels vulnerable and dislocated.

The hurly-burly of modern life plays a part. Dr. Debra Koss, a child psychiatrist in Sparta, N.J., who has been treating kids for more than 20 years, believes that both teenagers and families face more external pressure and stress today than they did years ago.
Part of that’s from the explosion in technology, especially in the proliferation in phone, computer and TV screens, which eat up an estimated five to seven hours of the average child’s day. That time spent inert in front of a screen is time not spent socializing, or playing sports, or getting out into the world, all of which contribute to healthy emotional development, Koss says.
Also, ruthless social media sites like Yik Yak, where kids post anonymous comments about their peers, can be devastating to children’s well-being. “They have a terrible impact on self-esteem and social relationships,” Koss says.
Developments in neuroscience should be helping to shape cultural expectations for kids, but so far the research has failed to activate much change. Adolescents are wired for short-term pleasures, feeling emotions more intensely and tending to act on impulse. But they’re quizzed about careers and college majors when they’ve just made it to high school, long before their brains have matured sufficiently to make thoughtful long-term decisions.
“We’re expecting a level of decision-making and abstract thinking that’s not in keeping with where brain development is,” Koss says.
Warped cultural pressure on kids to perform beyond their capabilities is stressful and demoralizing, forcing kids to grow up too fast. The fact that this generation has been subjected to more standardized testing than any other can adds to the anxiety.  “These external goals and messages” — from parents, schools, college applications and social media — “create unreasonable expectations,” she says. All of this contributes to adolescent depression, anxiety and other mental health concerns.
What’s the proper role for schools in attending to children’s mental health? Some educators and mental health experts have pushed schools to get more involved in preventing emotional and behavior problems and spotting those kids who need help, so that they can be steered toward professionals who can help them. Mental health problems often reveal themselves early in life, and the sooner they’re treated, the thinking goes, the better the outcomes.
Teachers’ everyday contact with children puts them in a position to pick out those who might be struggling and who could benefit from professional help. And because, as Koss says, “academic failure is a real consequence of mental illness,” teachers and school officials may have no choice but to confront these problems.
The following initiatives have been adopted in various states and schools to help identify, and even treat, those children in need.
One of the most ambitious approaches for treating children has been adopted in Minnesota, where mental health professionals provide treatment for such problems within the schools. The Minnesota system, which began in 2007 as a small pilot program and has since spread to 645 schools in 71 counties, removes the barriers that often keep children from getting the help they need: transportation to and from appointments, insurance coverage and lengthy waits for appointments.
This approach represents a radical departure from the typical way schools have handled troubled children, wherein school officials notify parents of a potential problem and then depend on parents to take action. Today, Minnesota has the largest school-based mental health program in the country.

Because the mental health providers are present and available, the stigma attached to getting help has lessened for kids. The method also helps therapists better evaluate their patients, because they see them in their natural environment. Teachers and school principals also welcome in-house clinicians, Lepinski says, through their interactions with the clinicians. Turf battles between “outside” mental health providers and “inside” school nurses, social workers or special education teachers is minimized because they all recognize the important role each plays in identifying and treating students.
And helping drive success — or allay parents’ fears — is the fact that the children’s mental health records are kept private from teachers and school administrators, under HIPPA laws.
During the first five years of the program, practitioners found that more than half of the children treated by therapists or mental health professionals in school were seeing someone for the first time, and half of these same children were getting treatment for a serious mental illness. Without the ordinary barriers to getting help, most kids completed their treatment, Lepinski says. Further, the impact of the treatment was reflected in a decline in suspension rates, absences and frequency of emotional problems.
Meanwhile, attendance rates have crept up. And with a full-time mental health professional on staff, the culture of these schools has become more sensitive to the role of mental health in learning. “Now, when a student acts up, the teacher’s first thought isn’t to complain about the kid’s bad behavior, but to think ‘I wonder what’s going on with him?’ ” Lepinski says.
Testing for emotional well-being is one way of identifying troubled kids, and some schools have started using them after a crisis, or even preventively. One of the most widely used screens, the Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale, or C-SSRA, is a brief survey that has been shown to identify accurately individuals at risk of suicide. In Tennessee, schools started asking the state for help in preventing suicide or managing in the aftermath, and the state responded by offering districts the C-SSRA.
More than 5,000 such screens were carried out with kids of all ages after crises since July, says Melissa Sparks, a registered nurse in Tennessee who helps oversee the state screens. Tennessee also uses what’s called a Youth Screen as a way of identifying mental health problems early. Of the 221 teenagers whose parents consented to their children’s screening since July, 75 kids were found to have a mental health or substance abuse problem.
Aerobic exercise is good for mental health; it reduces stress, improves attention and buoys the mood. But as school budgets have grown tighter, schools are dropping gym class and recess for more time in the classroom. This trend undermines student well-being and achievement, says Dr. Lawrence Steinberg, author of “Age of Opportunity: Lessons From the New Science of Adolescence.” Steinberg believes that schools should include an hour of exercise in the daily curriculum, because physical activity improves academic performance and mental health.
Steinberg is not alone: The Institute of Medicine challenges schools to work an hour of exercise into the school day, offering suggestions and games for teachers to boost activity. Its interactive website offers tips on how to arrange the classroom to make space for physical activity, so that kids don’t spend all day at their desks, and offers ideas on how to make recess and gym class more active and engaging for kids.
Teenagers don’t sleep enough, and that deficit affects their mental health as well as their ability to calculate or compose a sentence. The recommended amount of sleep for children and adolescents is 8.5 to 9.5 hours a night, but up to 87 percent of high school kids sleep less. It’s hard for teenagers to fall asleep naturally before 10:30 p.m., and most can’t make it up on the other end when the school day begins; 40 percent of high schools open their doors before 8 a.m.
Some schools are taking the advice of the American Academy of Pediatrics and are delaying the start of the school day to better fit with adolescent sleep cycles. According to Stacy Simera, the outreach director for Start School Later Inc., “the number of schools opening later has grown exponentially,” with positive results.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota who studied the impact of later start times in eight high schools found improvements in grades, attendance and punctuality, as well as a 70 percent reduction in auto accidents.
“It’s doable,” Simera says. “Superintendents and teachers are afraid it’s going to throw a wrench into everything, but hundreds of schools have adjusted,” she says.
Taking time to breathe deeply, slow down the mind and focus on the moment can lengthen attention spans and promote emotional control, and some schools are beginning to fold mindfulness training into the school day. Dr. Amy Saltzman, director of the Association for Mindfulness in Education, says that schools in all 50 states and around the world have started to teach children mindfulness.
The surge in children diagnosed with ADHD, depression and anxiety, as well as the growing body of evidence on the benefits of mindfulness, have prompted educators to bring the exercise to school. “There’s more awareness of the need,” Saltzman says.
One of the simplest ways for teachers to encourage a healthy mindset among their students is to take small steps in the classroom that work against harmful cultural pressures. To encourage breaks from screens, for example, teachers can set up tech-free spaces or times in class. Publicly limiting their own reliance on phones and computers also models the message that happiness isn’t found in “likes” or tweets.
And asking kids what they enjoy doing, then encouraging them to pursue those interests, permits children and teens to start valuing their own preferences, separate and apart from what presumably “looks good” to colleges. “This encourages kids to learn about themselves,” Koss says.
Hundreds of teachers in 43 states around the country are taking part in the Global Happiness Project, a loosely structured endeavor in which students are invited to consider the nature of happiness and to assess its prevalence in their community. In keeping with the program’s purpose, teachers are tailoring the assignment to fit the special circumstances of their classes.
A teacher in Cleveland, for example, advises her students to develop a growth mindset when it comes to learning, so that they’ll look at a bad test grade as a temporary setback and learning opportunity rather than a mark of permanent failure. An instructor in Rochester, Indiana, encourages her students to analyze Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town” in terms of the characters’ and community’s happiness, and then to develop a service project that will try to deliver more happiness to the town.
By integrating ideas about happiness and the good life into the school curriculum, teachers are encouraging children to value their feelings and to take control of their lives.

source : http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2015/05/22/how-schools-can-help-nurture-students-mental-health/


When Kids are Bullied, What Can Parents Do?

It’s no mystery that being bullied hurts. Whatever form the abuse takes—whether it’s being tripped, teased, excluded, mocked, insulted, gossiped about, or ridiculed, in-person or via social media—the target suffers. Beyond the short-term pain, such mistreatment can have lasting mental and physical health effects as well, reports the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Parents also struggle. Though desperate to help their ailing child, parents can’t lurk in hallways and lunchrooms waiting to protect their off-spring from social harm.
Compounding the difficulty is the child’s own resistance to calling in Mom and Dad for aid. “Kids don’t want to be viewed as rescued by their parents,” said James Dillon, a retired school principal and author of Reframing Bullying Prevention to Build Stronger School Communities. They also recognize that a parent’s anger might make things worse.  And when the peer nastiness dwells in the child’s online world, adults are often clueless and shut out of this alternate universe. As one beleaguered middle school principal told me about the social machinations that play out on Facebook, Instagram, and Kik, “it’s like they live under the sea. They are living in a different world than we are, and we don’t know it.”

Given these challenges, what can a parent do to help ease a child’s misery brought about by bullying?
Pre-empt as much as possible. Parents need to be proactive in helping prevent bullying incidents. With social media, that means setting limits on kids’ online use, monitoring it when possible, and being clear about family rules for Facebook, Instagram and the all the rest. What’s most important, says Dr. Debra Koss, a child psychiatrist, is talking to kids about social media, in all its changing forms, and keeping that conversation going. When kids make it home after school, don’t limit the conversation to academics and classmates. “Ask how it’s going on social media, not just ‘how’s school,’” Koss advises. “If parents are proactive, it’s easier to respond when bullying happens,” she added. Pre-emption also means modeling civil behavior and sound relationships, so that kids don’t accept rudeness and aggression as acceptable social conduct.
Encourage them to talk. And listen patiently when they do. Having open exchanges is vital, so that parents can help their children navigate the mysteries of growing up and forming relationships. Young people need guidance, and parents are best suited to offer it, provided they actively encourage conversations. They might also share stories about their own path to adulthood, advises Lauren Pardo, a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist. “Telling them about our mistakes, our failures, our embarrassments, our experiences, why there are positives in making yourself vulnerable,” Pardo says, can also dispel the notion that feeling confused and hurt is wrong or weird. What about during the teenage years, when kids separate and close up? “You can still model healthy relationships and healthy social media use,” Koss said.
Help them build a positive identity. “Many kids often think that they might deserve, or must endure, the bullying,” Dillon said. Parents and other adults need to assert unequivocally that no one deserves to be bullied, and that no one need suffer through it. Help the child identify existing strengths and find new ways to express and develop them, including outside the school environment. When kids have activities beyond school in which to spend time and make friends, they have new opportunities to strengthen their shaken identities. Volunteering, taking martial arts classes, pursuing the arts—any healthy activity outside school can be a refuge for kids who suffer in the classroom. “Building competence and confidence outside of school is part of this positive identity,” Dillon said.
Teach them how to calm themselves and problem-solve. Even young children can learn how to quiet themselves and to take problems apart and come up with rational solutions. Nancy Willard, director of Embrace Civility in the Digital Age, suggests that parents help children go through a series of mental exercises as a way to figure out next steps. For example, once calmed, children can be asked to identify their goal, select strategies to get there, evaluate that strategy for likelihood of success and coherence with the child’s values, and then, after trying it out, reassessing the strategy for effectiveness. This collaborative problem solving, which can be done with a parent or caring teacher, helps children think things through and learn how to self-regulate. Willard provides a free program for schools that teaches kids these and other important skills.
Foster gratitude. Bullied children may not be feeling thankful for the good things in their lives, but their outlooks will brighten if they spend time expressing gratitude. Years of research, much of it carried out by Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania, have shown that consciously focusing on one’s good fortune can lift mood and improve relationships. Parents can encourage children to demonstrate gratitude in many ways, including writing a thank you letter to a deserving adult and keeping a daily gratitude journal. Behaving generously, even by those most in need of it, builds good feelings within the giver.
Seek professional counseling if necessary. “Some adolescents are going to be more vulnerable to bullying and its impact,” Koss said. Parents need to pay close attention to children who already prone to anxiety, depression and other mental health challenges, as bullying may exacerbate those conditions. Kids who won’t open to their parents about a problem at school might be more willing to talk to a counsellor who is skilled at listening.

source : https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2016/04/29/when-kids-are-bullied-what-can-parents-do/

How to Be a Good Kid

In addition to being a good child (to your parents), you can be a good kid in general by following these steps.

StepsImage titled Be a Good Kid Step 1

  1. 1
    Listen to your parents. Comply with whatever they ask you to do, assuming of course it is within reason, and avoid arguing or complaining. Always listen to trusted adults like your parents, teachers, etc.
  2. 2
    Clean your room, do the dishes, take out the trash, and much more. If you do all the things they ask you to do, you don't have to worry about the stuff. You may get the games and the cell phone you always wanted. Try to go the extra mile.
  3. 3
    Respect your parents! Even though you might not get your own way, the more you do for them and more you respect them, the more they will want to do something for you.
    • Respect is not the same thing as conformity. This simply means that you can still disagree with your parents, but respect their decisions anyway.
  4. 4
    Don't do any drugs, and don't drink alcohol.
  5. 5
    Don't go over your limits on anything.
  6. 6
    Don't drink alcohol! It's not good for you, even if your parents or friends drink it don't drink it! Be the smarter one! Be the one who makes better choices in life!
  7. 7
    Don't smoke or chew tobacco.
  8. 8
    Stay in school and work very hard on your studies. Set goals for the future.
  9. 9
    Be polite. Manners are always important.
  10. 10
    Do something worthwhile, such as donating all of your saved up money to UNICEF, a charity that supports children in third world countries.
  11. 11
    Adopt a pet from the shelter. Give it all of your love. Spoil it rotten. These animals need a lot of loving, something that they are lacking in.
  12. 12
    Be kind, generous and forgiving. Smile graciously, respect others and help out. It might be impossible at first, but just start off by helping out your dad paint the fence, or being a shoulder to cry on when little Sally's pet goldfish dies.
  13. 13
    Act like a kid, but don't be immature. Be responsible. Read novels and participate in class, even enter spelling bee competitions. It's not nerdy.
  14. 14
    Smile. This will show your parents that you are enjoying life, and are not looking for any trouble.
  15. 15
    Never throw temper tantrums and fight with parents. It's childish and you should grow up.
  16. 16
    Look innocent and be innocent.
  17. 17
    If you have a problem with your parents or siblings, don't go throw a tantrum right in the middle of dinner or when you feel like it, go up to your room and punch a pillow if you're mad.
  18. 18
    Don’t be nervous of talking in the school. Talk to your friends and be nice to the people you don't like also.
  19. 19
    Don't skip from person to person. Like one person at a time, sometimes we get confused about who we like and its all jumbled in our minds. You don't want to lead anyone on. That might hurt them, and you in the end.
  20. 20
    If you like someone be nice and smile! Respect them and their views, but don't use all your time thinking about them, take some time for your friends too!
  21. 21
    If they don't like you back, respect them. Sometimes if people just don't like other people, then you can always just be friends. If you´re badly upset and jealous of whoever they like, talk it out with a friend who understands.
  22. 22
    Try to keep your grades up and do your best in school.
  23. 23
    Be kind to everyone you know.
  24. 24
    Don't cuss or swear.
  25. 25
    Go to bed on time without discussing.
  26. 26
    Eat all your food without complaining. Try to eat a balanced diet.
  27. 27
    Be thankful for what you have and never complain.
  28. 28
    Help out your parents when you think they need help.
  29. 29
    Never talk back to your parents or anyone.
  30. 30
    Be nice and friendly to your friends and family. If you don't have anything nice to say don't say anything at all.

How to Teach Your Child to Read

Teaching a child to read is a fulfilling and educational process, both for the parent and child. Whether you home school your kids or just want to give your child a head-start, you can begin teaching your child to read at home. With the right tools and tactics, your child will be reading in no time.

Part 1
Starting Early

 Image titled Teach Your Child to Read Step 1

  1. 1
    Read to your child on a regular basis. As with all things, it's difficult to learn anything without exposure to it. In order to get your child interested in reading, you should be reading to them on a regular basis. If you’re able, this should start when they are an infant and continue through their school years. Read books with stories they comprehend; at a young age this may lead you to read 3-4 small books a day.
    • Books that combine other senses besides listening help your small child to comprehend the story as you read it. For example, read many books that have pictures, tactile pages, sounds, or have accompanying scents.
    • Try reading them books that might slightly challenge their comprehension level but that have an interesting or engaging story.[1]
  2. 2
    Ask interactive questions. Even before your child learns to read, they can learn reading comprehension. As you read stories to them aloud, ask them questions about the characters or the plot. For a toddler, these may be questions like “Do you see the dog? What is the dog’s name?”. The questions can escalate in difficulty as the reading level does.
    • Help to teach your child critical thinking skills by asking open-ended questions about stories. You might not hear complex verbal responses until your child is four or five years old, but ask away and be patient.
  3. 3
    Make books easily accessible. It’s no good if you have books around, but located in places that your child can’t easily take them. Keep books low to the ground and in typical play-areas so that your child begins to associate them with play activities.
    • Because your child may be touching and reading the books often, be sure to choose ones that have wipeable pages and that aren’t incredibly sentimental. Pop-up books may not be the best option for young children.
    • A fancy bookshelf may seem like the most attractive option, but until your child is in school focus on the utilitarian purposes of book storage.
    • Set up a reading space next to the bookshelf. Set some beanbags, pillows, and comfy chairs around to sit in while reading. The top of the bookshelf can hold cups and snacks for having while reading.
  4. 4
    Set a good example. Show your child that reading is interesting and worthwhile by reading for yourself. Spend a minimum of ten minutes a day reading when your child is around, so that they see you enjoying the activity on your own. Even if you’re not an avid reader, find something to read - a magazine, the newspaper, or a cookbook all count. Soon they’ll become interested in reading on their own, simply as a result of seeing you doing it too.
    • Include your child in your reading time. If you’re reading something child-friendly, tell them about what you’re reading. Accompany this by pointing to words on the page to help them connect the lines on the page with the sounds that form words.
  5. 5
    Get access to a library. This can be done in two ways: create your own mini-library at home by collecting dozens of books in your child’s reading level, or make weekly trips to the local public library together to check out books. Having a variety of books on hand (especially with an older child) will add interest for reading, and help to incorporate more vocabulary into their knowledge base.
    • That being said, don't turn down a request to re-read a favorite book just because it's already been read a dozen times. [2]
  6. 6
    Start to make word-sound associations. Before you even start getting into the alphabet and sound specifics, help your child recognize that the lines on the page are directly correlated to the words you are speaking. As you read aloud to them, point to each word on the page at the same time you say it. This will help your child grasp the pattern of words/lines on the page relating to the words you speak in terms of length and sound.
  7. 7
    Avoid using flashcards. Some companies have advertised specialized flashcards to help babies, toddlers, and preschool age children to read. In general, flashcards are not the most useful or effective technique for teaching reading skills. Time spent reading stories with your child will be much more beneficial than flashcards. “Reading aloud to young children, particularly in an engaging manner, promotes emergent literacy and language development and supports the relationship between child and parent. In addition it can promote a love for reading which is even more important than improving specific literacy skills.”[3]

Part 2
EditTeaching the Basics

  1. 1
    Teach your child the alphabet. When your child has developed word awareness, begin breaking down words into individual letters. Although the alphabet song is the most classic means of teaching the alphabet, try getting creative. Explain each of the letters with their name, but don’t worry about trying to incorporate the sounds the letters make yet.
    • Teach lowercase letters first. Capital letters account for only five percent of all letters in writing English. Therefore, pay more attention to teaching the lowercase letters. lowercase letters are far more important in developing reading skills.
    • Try making each of the letters out of play-DOH, playing a toss game (where the child tosses a beanbag/ball onto a specific letter on the floor), or fishing for foam letters in the bathtub. These are all interactive games that encourage development on multiple levels.[4]
  2. 2
    Develop phonemic awareness. One of the most important steps in teaching reading is associating a spoken sound with a letter or letter-pair. This process is known as phonemic awareness. There are 44 speech sounds created by the 26 letters in our alphabet, and each sound must be taught paired with its letter(s) counterpart. This includes the long and short sound produced by each individual letter, as well as the specialized sounds some combined letters make (like ‘ch’ and ‘sh’).
    • Focus on a single letter/part/sound at a time. Avoid confusion and build a solid foundation by working at a steady pace through all of the speech sounds.
    • Give real life examples of each speech sound; for example, state that the letter ‘A’ makes the ‘ah’ sound, like at the beginning of the word ‘apple.’ This can be turned into a guessing game, when you speak an easy word (like apple) and have the child guess the letter that it starts with.
    • Use games similar to those used when teaching the alphabet, that combine critical thinking on the part of the child in order to determine sound/letter correlations. See the aforementioned list for ideas, but substitute in sounds.
    • It is easier for children to develop phonemic awareness when words are broken down into their smallest parts. This can be done with the clapping game (clapping out each syllable in a word) or by sounding-out words into their individual letters.[5]
  3. 3
    Teach your child rhymes. Rhyming teaches phonemic awareness and letter recognition, in addition to the most basic English words. Read nursery rhymes to your child, and then eventually make lists of easy-to-read rhymes such as mop, top, flop, pop, and cop. Your child will begin to see the patterns of sounds that are made when certain letters are combined - in this case, the sound ‘o-p’ makes.
  4. 4
    Teach your child to read using explicit phonics. Traditionally, children are taught to recognize a word based on its size, the first and last letters, and the general sound. This method of teaching is known as implicit phonics - working from the largest piece down. However, studies have shown that readable vocabulary dramatically increases (from 900 words to 30,000 words by the third grade) when taught in the opposite fashion: breaking each word into the smallest parts, and building them up into a full word - explicit phonics. Help your child to begin reading by having them sound-out each individual letter without looking at the overall word first.
    • Don’t move onto explicit phonics until your child has developed adequate phonemic awareness. If they cannot associate sounds with letters or letter pairs quickly, they need a bit more practice before moving onto complete words.
  5. 5
    Have your child practice decoding. Classically known as ‘sounding out’ words, decoding is when a child reads a word by making the sounds of each individual letter, rather than trying to read the whole word at once. Reading is broken up into two primary parts: decoding/reading a word, and comprehending its meaning. Don’t expect your child to recognize and comprehend words just yet; have them focus on decoding and sounding out word parts..
    • Don’t use whole stories or books yet; have your child read from word lists or from a basic story (not focusing on the plot). This is another great time to use rhymes for practice.
    • Decoding aloud is typically easier for the child (and you) to learn how to say the word. Have them break it into parts with clapping if necessary.
    • Do not be rigid in how the child pronounces the sounds. Regional accents and weak auditory skills make it hard for children to say most sounds in an academically correct way. Accept a reasonable effort. Recognize that learning sounds is only an intermediate step to learning to read, it is not the goal.[6]
  6. 6
    Do not worry about grammar.. Preschoolers, kindergartners, and first graders are very concrete in the way they think and cannot handle complicated concepts. By age four, most English speaking children already have an excellent grasp of grammar and in due time, they will learn all the formal grammatical rules. At this point, you need to concentrate only on the mechanical skill of reading, that is learning to decode new words and incorporating them in memory to build fluency.
  7. 7
    Build up an archive of sight words. Certain words in the English vocabulary are spoken often, but don’t follow the typical phonics rules. These words are easier to memorize by shape association than by sound, and are therefore known as ‘sight words.’ Some sight words include ‘they,’ ‘she’, ‘an,’ ‘said,’ and ‘the.’ The complete list of sight words, called the Dolch list, can be found online and broken down into sections to work through.
    • Show your child sight words on a piece of paper. Le them copy it and after telling them what the word is, ask them to tell YOU what the words is.

Part 3
EditIncreasing Difficulty

  1. 1
    Begin giving your child complete stories. Odds are, your child will be in school by the time they are able to read and will be given their own reading material by their teachers. Help them to read these whole stories by encouraging explicit phonics use, and recognizing vocabulary. As their word recognition increases, they’ll be able to more fully understand story plots and meanings.
    • Allow your child to look at the pictures - it doesn’t count as cheating if they do. Image and word association is a helpful aspect of building vocabulary.
  2. 2
    Have your child describe the story to you. After every reading session, have your child describe what the story was about to you. Try to get them to be detailed, but don’t expect an elaborate response. An easy and fun way to help encourage this is to use puppets who represent characters in the story, so your child can describe it to you through them.
  3. 3
    Ask questions about the stories. Similar to when you were reading stories to your child, every time your child reads ask them questions about what they’ve just read. At first it will be difficult for them to think critically about meanings of words and the buildup of character development and plot (or the semblance of those things in the most basic of stories), but over time they will develop the necessary skills to answer questions.
    • Make a questions list that your child can read; their ability to read and understand the provided questions is nearly as helpful as answering the questions themselves.
    • Start with direct questions, such as ‘who was the main character in the book?,’ instead of more abstract questions like ‘why was the main character upset?’
  4. 4
    Incorporate writing in with the reading. Reading is a necessary precursor to writing, but as your child develops reading skills have them practice their writing in conjunction. Children learn to read faster and easier if they learn to write at the same time. The motor memory of the letters, listening to their sounds and seeing them in writing will reinforce new learning. So, teach your child to write letters and words.
    • You’ll notice an enhanced reading ability as your child learns to spell by decoding and sounding out words. Work slowly though, and don’t expect perfection.
  5. 5
    Continue reading to your child. Just as you taught your child the joy of reading before they knew how, you should continue to promote reading by reading to/with them on a daily basis. They’ll develop a stronger phonemic awareness when they can see words as you read them, rather than struggling to do both at the same time themselves.
  6. 6
    Have your child read aloud to you. You’ll be given a better idea of your child’s reading ability when they read out loud, and they’ll be forced to slow down their reading to correctly sound out words. Avoid stopping your child to correct them while reading though, as doing so can interrupt their train of thought and make comprehending what they’re reading more difficult.
    • Reading out loud doesn’t have to be limited to stories; whenever you are around words, have your child sound them out to you. Road signs are a great example of something your child sees on a daily basis, and can practice reading out loud to you.[7]

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