Tips on how to teach your dyslexic child to read.

There are really some useful ideas in this post over at The Brain Gym Dublin for helping all readers, not just those with dyslexia.

Dyslexics have difficulty recalling words.

As soon as your child has learned enough common sight words if they continue reading very easy books every day they will usually be able to recall the words they have learned and gradually build up a reading vocabulary.

If your child reads only now and then, they will forget the words, begin substituting others, become discouraged and make little progress.”  To read the rest of this useful post, visit The Brain Gym Dublin.

Why Don’t Children Read More? (part 3)

I tutor a couple of children who hate reading. I don’t mean they’d rather play football or computer games than read,  I mean they’d rather gargle saltwater than pick up a book. It’s always a challenge to find something that children like this will read.

I thought about getting them to read magazines or comics instead, but there doesn’t seem to be the same range of titles or quality of articles as there used to be.

I’m going to show my age now, but when I was younger there were age-appropriate magazines with a range of types of writing inside. For younger girls there was Girl, and for the older ones, Jackie. They had photo stories, full length written stories, page-long articles about how to apply make-up, problem pages. It wasn’t just the girly girls who were catered for. My friends and I used to read Shoot, which had interviews with all our favourite football players, discussions about tactics, a letters/opinions page…. There was also Look-in with features about TV shows and several comic strip stories.

I recently scoured the children’s magazine section of a large newsagents, looking for something suitable, but with only a couple of exceptions, there is nothing. I know that people get up-in-arms about the phrase ‘dumbing down’, but in my opinion that is what has happened to children’s magazines. The emphasis seems to be more on the free gifts than the content, which seems to consist of lots of photos of celebrities and/or footballers with a two-line caption under each one, and pages of word searches and spot the difference puzzles. I picked up magazine after magazine and found them all to be the same.

The only exceptions were First News and National Geographic for Kids. Both of these have interesting and informative articles of a reasonable length, with the quality of writing I want my pupils to be producing themselves. The two pupils I mentioned at the beginning of this piece have enjoyed both of these publications. If only there were more magazines of this calibre.

How can we ever hope to encourage our children to read more if we don’t provide them with good quality alternatives to books?

What about you? If you have found any good alternatives I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

Why Don’t Children Read More? (part 2)

I have read 13 books so far this year. Many of them have contained at least one mistake, and a few of them have been so riddled with mistakes I couldn’t help wondering whether the publishing company had even heard of the concept of proofreading. I’m not even talking about just typos. Typos are annoying, and they should be picked up before a book goes to print, but even proof-readers are human and I can understand why the odd one slips through here and there. I’m talking about huge, glaring mistakes that spoil my enjoyment of a book because they don’t make sense.

I read a book once where the names of all the characters changed for one chapter in the middle of a book! That was highly confusing, but as an adult I worked out that the writer had changed the character names part way through writing, and forgotten to alter them in one chapter. Imagine what a child would have thought in a similar situation.

I read another book that contained the sentence: “Things are haveing (sic) to have a lot worse get before they better.” Ok, so I worked out what it meant – that’s beside the point. Coming across a sentence like this throws me out of the story and makes it harder to engage with the characters.

When there are errors like these every 2 to 3 pages, I feel like giving up and hurling the book across the floor. I love reading, so if errors in books make me want to give up, I imagine the temptation would be 100 times greater for a child who is already reluctant to read. Is it any wonder then if they don’t bother?

So far I have looked at libraries and the quality of books as reasons why children might not read. Tomorrow I’ll look at the last reason I have thought of. Do you have thoughts on why children don’t read more? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

International Mother Language Day

Today is International Mother Language Day. On this date in 1952, a group of students were shot because they were demonstrating for their language to be recognised as an official language. The day is now used to promote the importance of different languages and cultures – a subject very close to my heart.

It’s not often I wish I had my own class, but on days like today I do.  If I had my own class and my own classroom (and if it wasn’t half term), we’d be going off curriculum for at least part of the day. There would be posters on the walls in a multitude of languages. EAL children would be allowed to write in their home language instead of struggling with English, and they would all have the opportunity, if they wanted it, of teaching the rest of the class a few words in their mother tongue. We’d have poetry and story-telling in different languages, and listen to music from all over the world. There would be dual-language books around the classroom so that everyone could see what their classmates’ mother languages look like in print.

If I had my own class and my own classroom….but I don’t.  I hope though that activities like these are happening all over the world today. If you have done anything to celebrate – let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to.

REsources – Part 2 (Christmas resources)

selection of children's books about ChristmasChristmas is another tricky time of year – most children know the nativity story by the time they start school but I found some fantastic books, suitable for KS1, which tell the story with a twist. The Grumpy Shepherd tells the story of Christmas from the point of view of Joram, a shepherd who is always moaning about something – sheep are boring and his job is too hard – until an angel appears with news of a very special baby.  Jesus’ Christmas Party tells the story from the point of view of an inn-keeper who gets very cross when his sleep is disturbed first by a man and his pregnant wife wanting someone to stay, and then by a bright star shining through his window. He gets crosser and crosser as he is woken by shepherds and kings looking for a baby, but then he meets the baby for himself. Finally A Christmas Story tells the story of a young girl and a baby donkey who follow Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, meeting angels and shepherds and kings along the way.

For older children, I have found this Advent wreath game a great resource. I have used it in the last week of the Autumn term, when the children don’t want to do any work because it’s nearly Christmas, and by the end of the game the children are able to explain clearly what an advent wreath is for, how it is used and what each part represents. Although it’s quite a simple game, Years 5 and 6 really got into it, and enjoyed it so much they asked if I would leave it in their classroom so that they could play it again later.

To book a private tutor in Great Barr or the surrounding areas, visit my website www.sjbteaching.com.

For links to other useful articles and resources, Like my Facebook page.

Related post: REsources – Part 1 (General Resources)