Action Plan for “Slow” Readers_Step A

Psst!  Today unveiling: top SECRETS for SUCCESSFUL coaching!

Over the next few newsletters, I’ll be sharing the exact ABC pattern I follow when helping my students, especially the urgent cases who desperately need to catch up on reading.  Take these tips while you can; they might not be so freely given again.  I’ll give you the steps bite-sized so that you’ll have time to try out each of these steps as you learn them.

A is for ASSESSA is for Assess. Before you can do anything that is really effective, you need to take a moment to ask some questions:  Why is your child “slow”?  Which area is he struggling with?  Have you ever tried pushing a shopping cart over a wire or something on the floor in NTUC?  It’s hard!  Everytime you push, you bump into the wire and roll back.  That is what’s happening with your child.  He’s trying to push on into reading, but he keeps coming up against something that’s making him roll backwards.  So our first step is to find out what it is that’s blocking his progress.  Here are some common problem areas you can watch for:

  • Alphabet recognition (isn’t familiar with letters of the alphabet)
  • Alphabet sounds (does not know the sound each letter stands for)
  • Poor phonological skills (hasn’t learned to hear the sounds of the English language)
  • Low confidence (dare not try; failed previously)
  • Bad connotation (associates reading with boring, scary or difficult-to-understand experiences)

WE NEED TO KNOW… What we’re trying to establish is exactly where is your child in terms of reading?  We’ll make it simple.  By the end of your assessment, we want to know just two things.  Here they are:

  1. Can your child identify every letter of the alphabet in any order (not just be able to sing the alphabet song or recite his abc‘s in order)?
  2. Can your child identify the letters of the alphabet if you give him the sounds, and can he give the sounds if you show him the letters?

WHEN ASSESSING GETS FRUSTRATING… Assessment can be tricky for those not trained in it; so if you feel frustrated and fed up after your first attempt, relax.  It’s normal—I used to feel that way too!  Most of the time the problem is not that your child refuses to cooperate.  It’s usually that he doesn’t understand what you’re asking for.  A note from personal experience:  when my students change the subject without answering my questions during asssessment, I know immediately that they’ve lost track of what I’m doing with them.  Either they don’t understand what I’m asking or the task I gave too hard for them.  So what do I do?  Change my tactic.  Put it across in a game or a puzzle.  Give them a break, and come back to it in another form.  I hope these tips help you!

Okay, that gives you enough to do before next time.  Do remember that these steps build on one another.  If you don’t assess, you won’t be able to b–… ah, but that’s for next time!  I’ll see you then!

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