For homework to be truly worthwhile for special needs students, it is most important that the assigned work addresses their individual needs. If this does not occur, then frustration as well as some degree of self-deprecation will.
I must say that I take exception to the commonly heard statement that dyslexic individuals learn differently. I see this statement as being misleading as it tends to falsely indicate that we (yes, I am dyslexic, too) possess hidden mechanisms in our brains that compensate for the neurological damage that accompanies this condition.
The difference we dyslexics experience is that we need to work harder than our non-affected peers. However, it must be noted that this condition does not affect our intellectual ability. In fact, we are very capable of attaining the same academic success as our non-dyslexic peers do. Incidentally, this includes the attainment of under-grad as well as post-grad university degrees.
To learn more about dyslexia, refer to www.abcofreading.com.
The prime focus of the Program is on the vowels. The rationale here is that since they lack consistency of sound, they are the most difficult part of a word/syllable to decode. The other major points of concentration are on comprehension and syllabication.
It is important to keep the focus of a remedial approach narrow, especially in its early stages, as too much information tends to overwhelm and frustrate struggling students.
The Program’s simple nature allows students to experience success relatively quickly. This is significant because it develops the student’s confidence as it is the powerful forces of progress and faith in one’s ability that fosters further growth.
Re the Program’s Recommendations: In order to best address your students’/child’s needs, don’t hesitate to adjust them.
Remedial Reading – Syllabication
Syllabication is the process of dividing a word into its parts. This process makes it easier to read challenging multi-syllable words.
A syllable is a word or part of a word that has a vowel that can be heard. For instance:
- pet has one vowel and therefore is a one syllable word;
- boat has two vowels but as only the ‘o’ is sounded, it is a one syllable word;
- contain has three vowels but as only the ‘o’ and ‘a’ are sounded, it is a two syllable word – con/tain.
Syllabication tends to be the bane of weak readers be they 8 or 80.
As there are many exceptions to the syllabication patterns, the objective is to teach the concept that words that can be divided into parts rather than stressing particular patterns.
For exercises that allow students to grasp the concept of syllabication, you can refer to the Darwin the Dragon Reading Program or prepare your own.
Syllabication should be introduced when the student starts to encounter multisyllable words.
Side Note: As the Program also accommodates adults, it has two sets of teaching instructions as well as two titles – the one mentioned above and the Vowel First Method.
- Parental tutoring should only be carried out if the sessions rarely result in unduly stress and frustration for either the child or parent. The reasoning here is that negative emotions not only inhibit learning but, more significantly, they can also affect the child/parent relationship.
Therefore, if parental tutoring isn’t going well an alternative approach should be considered. For instance, parents could:
- hire a tutor – see blog entry 10 for tips on choosing a tutor;
- look into having a trained school volunteer assist their child;
- use the services of a reputable learning centre;
- consider linking up with parents whose child also has a learning problem and tutor each other’s children.
Incidentally, a child’s limited progress doesn’t rest on his shoulders but on the shoulders of the teaching system. A system where far too many teachers graduate from university without sufficient knowledge on how to assist students with persistent learning problems and where the some teachers aren’t keeping up with their professional development..
The next posting will address tips on choosing a tutor.