Dyslexia describes an individual who has problems reading due to a physiological, cognitive pattern that prohibits the ability to process letters for sounds. People with dyslexia often read letters backwards or struggle to sound out words letter by letter. These reading problems can be especially frustrating because children with dyslexia are often very creative and interested in learning more, but feel held back by their difficulty reading. There are step-by-step ways to overcome dyslexia that takes a reader from phonics all the way to reading comprehension with inferences. We employ direct, explicit phonics as a foundation for our early reading program because studies have shown it to be the most effective for students with reading difficulties.
While this type of dyslexia is quite rare, there are many reading difficulties today that follow the same patterns of dyslexia. Many reading approaches created over the past century have led students down the wrong path for reading. These programs overemphasize the memorization of words and sight words to the detriment of a student’s phonetic awareness. Thus, many students need to regroup and retrain their reading habits to focus on sounds rather than the shapes of words. A strong background and use of phonics actively help students with reading comprehension because they free up energy and attention for higher order reading tasks. In our tutoring program, we make great use of phonics sound cards, controlled reading, and dictation to solidify gains in reading habits. We like to enlist the help of parents and babysitters when possible, so that a student can practice outside of the tutoring sessions. Many parents have loved the experience of sharing the joy of reading with their children and of participating in their reading development.