What we do
Dyslexic Strengths specialises in working with kids who live with dyslexia (trouble with reading and spelling) and dyscalculia (trouble with maths and numbers). We use an approach called Structured Literacy, which is widely recognised as the best approach to teaching kids living with dyslexia.
Why kids living with dyslexia find reading difficult
Everybody is different, however, in simple terms, people living with dyslexia have difficulty with identifying and working with the sounds in spoken words. These difficulties are in three areas:
- The awareness of the sounds of language
- They can hear the whole word but sometimes they hear it incorrectly, they might think the word ‘bench’ is ‘vench’ or ‘shark’ is ‘sharp’. They also have trouble identifying the individual sounds that make up a word and so mapping sounds onto letters (reading and spelling) are more difficult.
- The speed of processing language
- They have a slower recall of the sounds associated with letters (even when they know them) so this makes it difficult to read smoothly and sometimes makes it difficult to find the right word when they are speaking.
- The amount of verbal information they can work with at once
- They have difficulty holding a large amount of verbal information in their head which results in difficulty sounding out words and sentences, blending sounds together, remembering verbal instructions and mentally manipulating numbers. They generally have no problems working with visual information or general sounds, just speech sounds.
This results in a difficulty with mapping the sounds of language onto the letters within words quickly and accurately. Otherwise known as reading and spelling.
We have the additional challenge of working with English
English one of the most complicated and challenging language codes in the world and reading is one of the most difficult and amazing things our brains can do.
For example, did you know that there are 44 sounds in the English language but only 26 letters to represent those sounds? In some languages- that are much easier to learn, every letter has only one sound. Most people learn at school that the vowels are a, e, i, o, u and sometimes y. But did you know there are about 19 different vowel sounds in English? That sometimes vowels are spelt with two letters? Did you know that the letter ‘a’ can represent five different sounds?
No wonder our kids get confused!
So, how do you teach a kid something that’s really difficult and complicated, and doesn’t come naturally to them?
- Get to know the individual – every kid has different strengths
- Give them a clear picture of what you are doing and why.
- Discover and support awareness of their own learning processes.
- Break reading and spelling down into small logical parts that build on each other and are easy to understand.
- Practise those parts until they are automatic.
- Learn to put all those parts back together.
- Logically introduce more complicated words and rules, as well as information about where those words come from and what they mean.
- Lots of high-quality practise throughout.
There are a lot of factors that influence how long this process might take. On average, it takes about 80 hours of direct instruction, plus short daily practise at home or school to work through the program.
Our program covers all the necessary elements to support kids living with dyslexia to learn to read, spell and write. The science of reading has concluded that structured literacy instruction is the most effective reading instruction for kids living with dyslexia, as described by Dyslexia International.
Nothing is left to chance or taken for granted. Our kids are taught everything clearly because they may have gaps in their knowledge or understanding that have gone unnoticed for years. For example, I recently worked with a 10-year-old who didn’t reliably know the alphabet or understand before and after, a knowledge that’s easy to take for granted in Year 5. Think of the implications of missing such a simple concept as before and after. How can a kid learn to spell if, when you tell them to use ‘k’ before the ‘e, i or y’ and they don’t reliably know what before means? It’s also unlikely that a Year 5 teacher would go back and cover basics like this in class.
In our program, we cover every skill a kid needs, in full detail and give them lots of practise at using those skills.
Every activity we do with kids is fun and challenging. Recently one of my students asked if she could have three homework sheets (instead of one) because she liked them so much!
Most lessons will have a similar structure. We start by working on the alphabet using wooden letters. We work on visual memory, sound memory, recognising letters by feel, identifying vowels and consonants, understanding before and after, the letter names and a host of other activities. We need to make sure our kids become automatic in their ability to recognise letter shapes, reversals, sequence letters and identify vowels and consonants.
Next, we review and practise all the concepts covered so far by using reading, spelling and concept cards. Every time they learn a new letter, a letter sound, a spelling rule or a grammar concept, we make a card together and add it to their stack. Our kids participate in making the cards by choosing and drawing clue words for the new letters and sounds they learn. This supports their memory because they choose something they know they will remember. These cards are practised by the kids for about 10 minutes every day so that they become automatic.
Next, we do a revision of the previous teaching points or anything the kid might be struggling with. This is an essential part of the teaching process because kids often need to be taught things more than once, they forget and need each skill reinforced along the way. Sometimes, if a kid is having a hard time remembering or understanding, we will skip introducing a new skill. We will focus on ensuring they have sufficiently mastered what we have already covered before we move on.
After this comes the new teaching point for this session. This is always introduced in a way that makes the kid think and participate in the process. We always use a variety of modes to introduce the new teaching point. For example, when we introduce a new letter, we often get the kid to try to work out the letter-sound by using picture cards. We ask them to say the names out loud and listen for similar sound patterns. They learn to write the letter in capital, print and cursive. We practise what sound it makes. They learn what its name is. They read and write example words that use that letter. Finally, the kid makes a new letter card, with all this information on the card. The card is added to their stack and practised every day.
We always end every lesson with a game, which the kids love. The games are all designed to give the kids lots of practise of the skills they have learned so far, and they love it when they beat the tutor!
The way the teaching sequence is structured means that no stone is left unturned regarding the language code. The kids learn everything they need to know, in a logical sequence and get plenty of practise to make the concepts automatic.
Kids living with dyslexia find it difficult to break words down into their individual sounds and to manipulate those sounds in their heads. So we teach them by using all their senses. In every lesson, we do activities that involve sounds, movement, visuals and reading and writing, so that the kids have multiple ways to remember things. This has nothing to do with “learning styles”, such as “I’m a visual learner” or “I’m an auditory learner” – this is a myth that has been disproven over and over again. It is true, however, that when kids engage all their modes of learning in each lesson, they learn things faster and better.
We have a tutoring room in Blackwood, south of Adelaide, that is set-up to be an ideal, quiet environment for kids to have their sessions.
One on one tutoring is $90 per session (60min)
Session fees are payable upfront on a term by term basis. We offer make-up sessions for any sessions that are missed.
Contact us today with any questions you might have about dyslexia or specific learning differences. You can also book a free and confidential initial meeting, where we can discuss your particular needs