Read and Spell Blog

10 Fluency strategies for struggling readers
Read and Spell blog
10 Fluency strategies for struggling readers

10 Fluency strategies for struggling readers

Literacy skills are one of the most important areas of ability children develop in their first few years at school. They begin by sounding out words and learning to recognize common vocabulary from books and classroom materials. With sight reading and spelling practice comes greater fluency.

Reading speeds up and comprehension of more complex texts becomes possible as vocabulary knowledge grows exponentially. However, not all students find learning to read such an easy process. Struggling readers can quickly fall behind their peers and may develop low self-esteem and a lack of confidence as a result.

Because reading ability impacts performance across all areas of the curriculum, including writing skills, it’s important to provide adequate strategy training as early as possible. Ideally remediation is tailored to the individual student’s needs, particularly when a learning difficulty is involved.

Dyspraxia vs. apraxia of speech
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Dyspraxia vs. apraxia of speech

Dyspraxia vs. apraxia of speech

Dyspraxia is a fine and/or gross motor skills difficulty that may also impact on learning. Symptoms range in severity and can make it difficult for a child to dress him or herself, hold a pen or pencil and perform other daily activities. Estimates in the UK suggest that 1 child in every 10 struggles with some form of dyspraxia.

While apraxia is a related neurological condition, it represents a complete loss of motor skills impairing a person in a particular capacity. There are many kinds of apraxia but in the case of apraxia of speech, the muscles of the mouth including the tongue, jaw, cheeks, palate and lips cannot be coordinated to produce intelligible spoken language.

strategies for dysgraphia
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9 Strategies for dysgraphia

9 Strategies for dysgraphia

Dysgraphia is a specific learning difficulty that impacts on writing skills. While no two individuals will experience the same set of symptoms, it is a brain-based disorder that can cause difficulty with forming letters, spacing words and even organizing text into complete sentences. Students with dysgraphia may struggle with taking notes in class, completing homework and long-term assignments, and performing well on traditional assessment measures.

For these individuals writing is often both difficult and painful, causing everything from cramping in the muscles of the hand to excessive sweating and high anxiety. Over time, this can lead to poor performance and falling behind in lessons due to an inability to take notes. It may also result in avoidance of school and extra-curricular activities that involve producing written work.

Fortunately, there are strategies and classroom accommodations for dysgraphia that can help, including allowing the use of audio-recorders and learning touch-typing so computers are used as an alternative to handwriting.

Encouraging children with learning difficulties to succeed at school
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Encouraging children with learning difficulties

Encouraging children with learning difficulties

Specific learning difficulties like dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia can make it difficult and sometimes impossible for a child to achieve the same results as his or her peers in a traditional classroom setting. Some children face a constant struggle with reading and writing and many are at risk for developing low self-esteem, particularly when their condition goes undiagnosed and/or untreated.

The thing to remember is that there are alternative learning approaches, strategies, and tools that can help students with learning difficulties achieve their full potential at school. Moreover, a positive attitude and plenty of encouragement from parents and teachers can do wonders when it comes to inspiring these children to stay motivated and persevere.

Are there ADHD specific reading problems?
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ADHD reading problems

ADHD reading problems

While not all children with ADHD Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and ADD Attention Deficit Disorder experience difficulties when it comes to reading, some studies estimate around half may struggle with literacy skills.

That’s because attention issues make it harder for children with ADHD to concentrate on a text. They may have trouble following a narrative, connecting a text to their prior knowledge of a topic and/or guessing at the meaning of unknown words met in context. If auditory processing is also an issue, sounding out words may be a challenge.

When ADHD and dyslexia present together, which occurs in about 1/3 of ADHD cases, both reading fluency and comprehension are impacted. The child may take longer to get through a page and stumble when reading aloud. There can also be difficulties sitting still for long periods, in order to read the assigned pages.

How to find a good tutor
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How to find a good tutor

How to find a good tutor

When kids lack confidence in the classroom, are struggling to keep up with their peers, need help preparing for exams or are dealing with a learning difficulty, parents may arrange for them to see a private tutor outside of school.

Tutors provide the extra scaffolding that less able students may require and can also encourage gifted children by introducing them to more advanced topics not covered in a school curriculum. By working one-on-one, tutors are able to go over content at a pace that is right for every child.

They can also assist with school assignments and help enforce good study habits, including setting smart targets which are specific, measurable, achievable, and relevant in a given time period.

Self-confidence vs self-esteem
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Self-confidence vs self-esteem

Self-confidence vs self-esteem

The terms self-confidence and self-esteem are often conflated. Confidence is a measure of faith in one’s own abilities; esteem is about our sense of self. It involves both thoughts and emotions and influences how we perceive others and interact with the world.

When children have healthy self-esteem, they tend to be confident.

Similarly, if a child has a negative self-view, which is often the case for learners with undiagnosed learning difficulties, it can cause them to lack confidence in classroom activities, particularly in tasks that involve reading and writing.

What are learning difficulties?
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What are learning difficulties?

What are learning difficulties?

Learning difficulties, known as learning disabilities in North America, are conditions that impact on an individual’s ability to gain knowledge and skills at the same rate as his or her peers. They may be due to a mental handicap or a cognitive disorder.

Having a learning difficulty does not make someone less intelligent, it just means they learn in a different way that can render traditional classroom activities problematic. That’s why people with learning difficulties often require specific strategy training and customized lessons in order to overcome challenges and make progress in an academic environment.

The importance of motivation for kids
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The importance of motivation for kids

The importance of motivation for kids

Motivation to learn correlates with success at school. That's why many parents and teachers are concerned with helping students become more motivated in the classroom. This may mean using recognition and rewards to encourage behaviour that’s conducive to learning.

However, extrinsic motivators alone don’t always do the trick. Teachers who make lessons interesting to kids and help learners get excited about school can foster a lifelong love of learning and encourage students to overcome obstacles and find success.

Dyspraxia vs. ADHD
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Dyspraxia vs. ADHD

Dyspraxia vs. ADHD

Both ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and dyspraxia can affect children and prevent them from reaching their full potential. While ADHD is a learning difficulty that often impacts on attention, behaviour or both, dyspraxia has to do with fine motor skills, language and planning abilities and is not always classed as a learning difficulty.

Nonetheless, it can show up at the same time as ADHD and have similar consequences for kids who are affected, including frustration with everyday classroom tasks. This leads to poor performance and eventually low self-esteem.

But by being aware of a child’s particular symptoms and implementing specific teaching and learning strategies, parents and educators can help dyspraxic children and kids with ADHD overcome these challenges and be more successful at school.

Slow processing speed
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Slow processing speed

Slow processing speed

Processing speed is a way of describing how the brain receives, understands and responds to information. Not everyone thinks at the same pace. And while speed has nothing to do with how smart a child is, kids who struggle with slow processing speed may struggle to follow lessons and complete tasks at school.

Slow processing speed is also related to literacy development and math skills. It can cause a child to fall behind their peers, become frustrated, and form negative associations with learning. Often these experiences make kids think they aren’t good at school, causing low self-esteem and a lack of self-confidence.

But this downward spiral can be avoided if the symptoms are recognized early on. When students are provided with targeted strategy training and teachers adjust tasks appropriately, it gives kids with slow processing speed the best chance of reaching their full potential.