When LEARNING gets in the way of READING
Is your child learning to read, or are the learning to be lazy guessers? After having a son with dyslexia slip through the cracks, I realized that I needed to do more at home as a parent to build a better foundation for my child's reading.
My 5 year-old wanted to make this vlog with me, or you can scroll down and read my written blog! We partnered with Reading Eggs and it has been the BEST for his love of learning! Watch below to hear about it in Brian's own words!
I’ll keep this short, because you probably have a million things to do - as a mom of four, the first thing I’ve learned is that you never quite figure it out, and each child is born with their own spirit and giftings.
But they all have to learn how to read. When my oldest started school, I immediately felt like something wasn’t clicking. But I was dismissed by everyone, told he was just “learning at his own pace”. Fast forward to the summer before 3rd grade, and I presented his biological father and stepmother my reasoning for wanting to get him tested for dyslexia - they agreed, we paid for it on our own instead of going through the district, and he was diagnosed with dyslexia, dysgraphia, and inattentive ADHD (note that there’s a difference from hyperactive ADHD!)
In those first years at school, I was the only one who saw something not clicking - he tested “at grade level” and seemed like he was reading. But what I noticed was that it seemed fake, like really good guesses. When I was little, I learned to read by learning how letters blended together to make different sounds - in all fairness, I naturally loved reading. By second grade I was reading at 11th grade level, and I was tasked to teach kindergarteners how to read. So I was confused that I felt like something was so off with my son's reading, but his teachers said it was okay. But I’m so glad I trusted my mother’s intuition and fought to be an advocate for my son!
Fast forward to now - it's still a battle to get school districts to recognize dyslexia as a learning disability that requires more help. Fortunately, he had THE BEST third grade teacher ever (Ms. Meyn we love you!) - Aiden wouldn’t have started doing better if it wasn’t for her! And his 4th grade teacher this year seems amazing as well - teachers are doing everything they can, but only have so many resources. In the eyes of the district, everything is focused on if they “test at grade level” - but testing at grade level doesn’t demonstrate if an orthographic, fundamental level of reading is truly understood. Even now, if you give my son “nonsense words”, he can’t read them - it’s like his brain can’t process how to blend the sounds of the letters together. But he passes the computer testing, because he’s smart enough to recognize enough words.
But recognizing words won’t cut it in middle school, high school, college - and what’s more, is even if he's getting by, in his heart he knows he can’t do it. I see his self confidence tank and his love for learning is nearly non-existent. Then my friend sent me this article and it all made sense - the way kids are learning to read now is fundamentally wrong. Sight words teach kids to guess rather than laying down the proper foundation for how reading really works. Some kids are naturals, and it ends up being fine - but this method is leaving kids like mine at a huge disadvantage. If you have time, I encourage you to read that article!
Now jumping to my second son - he just started Kindergarten and I didn’t want the same for him. I can’t change the curriculum for how schools teach (and please know I don’t blame teachers!!), but I can change the supplemental help I give at home.
I don’t normally let my kids play on devices (literally no tablets, phone games, nothing) - because I wanted to save it for something truly educational when their brains are developed enough to handle using bright, shiny, immediately gratifying devices. After a lot of research, we started using Reading Eggs for our Kindergartener - we let him start using it at the beginning of September. This app breaks down sounds and truly teaching children the proper foundation of reading rather than just sight words and guess work - AND ITS FUN!
He’s naturally a perfectionist, so when he started, he was easily discouraged when he didn’t know something perfectly. But the game weaves fun games with moments to encourage the child with stepping stones of growth. Just a month later, my son has progressed so much! Even without the app in front of him, he is reading and writing. Without asking for any help, he wrote a card to his teacher:
“Dear Ms Aguilar,
I like skool
I love you
I like riting
He’s reading books about the Solar System and correctly sounding out words like “constellation” and “galaxy”. Even words like Europa (one of Jupiter’s moons) that he’s never heard before, he’s sounding them out in a way the demonstrates the proper orthographic understanding of reading.
For us, we use the app for just 15-20 minutes three times a week. For him, its enough - for other kids, it could be too much or not enough!
I'd love to hear what YOU are doing to help your child learn how to read - every child is different, and what works for one won't work for another! As a parent, our best resource is our intuition and our access to more information. The more you know, the more you can support your child!