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In a blog post two weeks ago, I mentioned “Structured Literacy.” This is a term that the International Dyslexia Association is using to describe explicit reading instruction. These instructional approaches include direct instruction in breaking words into sounds. Then sounds are taught and associated with specific letters or letter patterns. The student has to learn to produce the letter when given a sound, and then when shown the letter, provide the corresponding sound.

The National Reading Panel determined that directly teaching these skills in a planned sequence results in improved reading skills in children from grades K through 6. To accomplish this, teachers use decodable texts (with no irregular spellings) to allow the student to practice sounding out unfamiliar words. The “Fact Sheet on Effective Reading Instruction” from the IDA lists other necessary components of Structured Literacy which results in improved ability to read. Click here for the Factsheet.

The Structured Literacy approach involves the teacher directly explaining and demonstrating concepts. Students are actively engaged in listening, speaking, seeing and writing to reinforce the concepts. Students might write letters on rough sandpaper or in chalk on the sidewalk while saying them to practice letter patterns. The instruction follows a logical order, moving from the easiest to most difficult material. At each level, the concepts are reviewed and reinforced by the teacher. Students have multiple opportunities for practice, such as by reading decodable texts out loud to the teacher. Student progress is continuously assessed, and the results are used to plan the next lesson. If you don’t know how reading intervention is being conducted, have a meeting with the teacher for information. Emphasize that you want to carry over the work that is being done at school in the home.

Improved reading skills do not happen overnight. Continue to support your child’s progress by having them read to you at home from a book that is at their reading level. Then, to develop their background knowledge and vocabulary, read out loud to them from a book on a subject of interest to them. 

Blogger Mary Ann Mulcahey, PhD, shares her expertise in assessment and diagnosis of learning disabilities and ADHD, and the social/emotional adjustment to those issues. If you have questions, please contact Dr. Mulcahey at mmulcahey@springer-ld.org.

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