How To Help Students With Reading Problems

Reading is a difficult process. The brain must be doing several things at once in order to make sense out of the written word. Many things can go wrong when a student is learning to read. Kids who struggle with reading struggle with life. If there is just one skill you can spend time on to help a student succeed in school and life, it would be reading.

The biggest mistake most people make is to try to teach a student to read in the same method they were taught or by using traditional methods. Well, guess what? If these methods worked, then the student would be reading and reading well.

It is important to understand that different methods must be used to help a struggling reader. A combination of brain, visual, visual memory, auditory, and tactile decoding training is necessary. This is especially important when traditional methods have failed.

Brain integration activities are critical. Use brain integration activities to help balance the left and right hemispheres of the brain.

Phonics (the foundational reading skill) is a left brain activity. Right brain dominant students have a terrible time learning to read with traditional phonics based methods. Odds are pretty good you are dealing with a right brain dominant child.

Students with reading problems should do vision and auditory exercises to strengthen these learning systems. If you think about it it should be obvious that both visual skills and auditory skills are necessary. We "hear" the words in our mind as we read. Therefore auditory related skills must be strengthened. Skipping them will result in a student who will always struggle with reading.

So the tactic should be to first build up the primary skills such as:

  • Visual Memory
  • Visual Closure
  • Auditory Closure
  • Auditory Discrimination

Then and only then do you start working on the actual reading skills. You prime the brain and learning systems for optimal learning first. Then you start working on the actual reading skills such as decoding.

 Most poor readers look at the first syllable or two of a word and start sounding it out. However, for some reason, this is as far as they can get, and from there they start guessing. For instance, the word dignity may be read as digital by the student. This is not an accurate method to read and causes a lot of problems, especially with comprehension. I find a lot of people are seeking help with reading comprehension problems. These problems are caused because the student is working so hard to decode that comprehension is simply out of the question. Fix the fundamental problems and reading comprehension will come.

Again, as with all right brain dominant children, using color can be a helpful tactic. Have the student sound out a decoding unit (small section of a word) that is in color. The right side of the brain is attracted to color. This busies the right brain and allows the left brain to work.

You can also use pictures. Pictures are primarily right brain. Combine pictures with the words a student is trying to learn. This integrates both brain hemispheres. Find out more about mixed dominance.

You activate the right side of the brain while working on the left brain activity of learning to read. This prevents looking at the word as a whole and guessing.

Another very successful tactic is to integrate the body. Exercises such as using letter tiles. Have the student pull down tile for each sound. This involves a tactile operation while reading and forces the student to look at sounds as he reads instead of the whole word. Students often have an incorrect mental picture of a word. this process will break that up and correct it.

The next step is to dictate the real words the student learned and have the student write them down on paper or in a gooey substance. This not only helps with spelling, but it will give you a good idea if the student has mastered the decoding unit. You would call out words like far, dark, remark, etc. and have the student write them. If the decoding unit was learned, the student will recall the unit and spell it correctly. If the student learns one decoding unit per day success will be attained very quickly..

There are more than 52 known decoding units. Once a child begins to become familiar with them learning will take place quickly. Kids who have struggled with reading for years typically raise test scores and grades in about six weeks. This read, touch, and write method works when all other methods have failed.

If you have a student who is not doing well in reading, it is because it is not being taught in a way the student can understand. This unique method uses all of the senses to help the student quickly and easily master reading skills. Get your child on the path to reading success.