Using Screen Time To Help Your Struggling Reader

Using Screen Time To Help Your Struggling Reader

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Studies have shown that children are interacting with the online world at young ages. Between social media and online gaming, we are all bombarded with increased technology. This is often viewed as a negative. However, there are ways to use technology to our advantage. From our state of the art online tutoring program to educational games, conscientious media use can be used as a tool to help our children learn.

dyslexic word artIt is a fact of the modern world, media and screens are everywhere. From iPads to cell phones to computers to video game systems, we are bombarded with digital media. We can get news and information faster than ever before. This is true for us as adults and for our children.

There is no denying it, children are accessing more media, more often, and more quickly than ever before. In fact, a new report shows that children as young as infants have access to personal media devices. The average American child spends about two hours in front of a personal screen. This is in addition to about 48 minutes spent watching TV.

While there are numerous studies about the negatives effects of screen time, this blog is not going to delve into those. The reality is that screens are a part of life. In fact, as I sit here writing this blog my son is reading a story on his iPad and my daughter is watching a video of other kids playing with toys (side note, what is it with those videos and why didn’t I think of them?).

What I am going to focus on is how we as parents can use the screen to our advantage as tools to help develop and foster learning. Not everything on the internet is education (as evidenced by the toy unboxing videos) and some of it can be dangerous. It is our job to make sure that our children interact with high-quality media that will enhance their learning as often as is possible. And of course, we have to make sure to keep them safe.

mosaic flowers1With that said, let’s look at some ways that technology use at home can help enhance critical thinking and literacy development. Keep in mind while you are reading that I am not a doctor and anything I recommend is based on my personal opinions, not expert advice.

  1. Online tutoring The program we have developed at RW&C uses technology and media to help students with reading difficulties. We use video conferencing software to provide one on one, real-time tutoring. We also offer a multitude of practice activities hosted on our website to help you practice at home.

This is a great use of technology for parents who live in remote areas or don’t have time to commute to a reading tutor. Our program is effective and helps save time. You don’t have to spend hours stuck in traffic or juggle your daughter’s dance class with your other child’s tutoring sessions. We work around your schedule. This is one way that technology can help enhance your child’s learning.

  1. Educational apps. There are a ton of apps that can help reinforce various skills and help your child practice. In fact, we even use a game based web program as part of our online tutoring practice. This can be a great way to get kids engaged and interacting with learning content as part of their screen time.

If you aren’t sure where to start when it comes to education apps, check out this helpful list of literacy apps put together by the International Dyslexia Associate. Just remember, an app is a great way to reinforce skills, but if your child struggles with reading, you will need to make sure that these skills have been explicitly taught.

When you sign up for our online tutoring program, our reading clinicians assess your child and design their online learning games to specifically reinforce concepts that they have been working on. This can help take some of the guesswork out of it for you and make sure that the time your child spends on screen is valuable learning time.

  1. Audiobooks. Audiobooks are a great tool for both struggling and proficient readers. It allows children to access content that is above their reading level. This helps improve their vocabulary and their listening comprehension.

mosaic-books-to-ideasIf your child struggles with reading, this is something you need to take advantage of. Since many struggling readers cannot read at grade level, they are not able to access grade-level content. This leads to gaps in vocabulary knowledge. Audio books are one way to help bridge these gaps and ensure that your child has access to grade level (or above vocabulary).

There are many audiobook apps for both Apple and Android devices. Your local library may even offer access to free audio content.

  1. Online dictionary and thesaurus references. These can help children spell words, define unknown words, come up with synonyms to enhance their writing and more. They are valuable literary resources for students.

While this is far from an exhaustive list of all the ways that technology can help enhance literary learning and reading intervention, it hopefully gives you some ideas on how to make your child’s screen time more educational.

However, keep in mind, that if your child struggles with reading and is not making adequate progress, an app or an audiobook is not going to be the magic cure. They need Structured Literacy Intervention which has been research proven to help remediate reading difficulties. One way to access that is with our online tutoring program. Contact us today if you need more information.

And now, it’s time for me to go tell my children that they need to put down their iPads and play outside. Wish me luck…

Becky Welsch

RW&C, LLC

www.rwc4reading.com






Becky Welsch has a Master’s degree in K-8 Education. She is certified to teach in the state of Arizona and has special endorsements in the areas of English Language Learners and Reading.

Becky has worked with struggling readers in the primary as well as secondary grades. Her experience also includes intensive reading intervention both in person as well as with online teletherapy. 
Becky has experience with early literacy skills like phonics and phonemic awareness development. She has used several structured literacy programs including Language! and Spalding phonics. She is also trained to administer DIBELS tests and has worked with the DIBELS Next reading remediation program.

 

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When Older Children Struggle With Reading

When Older Children Struggle With Reading

During my time as a classroom teacher, I taught a variety of different grade levels in a seven-year span. While this had its challenges, it also allowed me to experience first hand the ways that literacy instruction differed in primary and upper grades.

My initial teaching experinces were in the primary classroom. I have a strong background in early literacy development and I taught first and second grade for four years.

 

In the primary classroom, identifying reading difficulties is fairly straightforward. Maybe not why a child struggles or specific disabilities like dyslexia, but at least identifying that a child is struggling is simple for a classroom teacher. In kindergarten through about mid-third grade, students read aloud, all the time. Almost every literary activity is oral. They read to partners, read to stuffed animals, read to a teacher, segment sounds out loud. When students are learning to read, it is a noisy process.

 

When a student struggles, you can hear it. You hear that they mix up their b’s and d’s, or that they make the short i sound in the word hen. You ask them questions about what they are reading, and they answer out loud. You follow up to determine what specific comprehension skills they struggle with.

 

At home, students read out loud to their parents. If your child struggles with their reading, you know. You can identify if they are missing words or don’t understand the text. In short, the process of learning to read is a loud one. A beautiful, exciting, and noisy undertaking.

 

After my four years in the primary classroom, I moved up to 5th grade and then eventually to 7th and 8th grade reading. As I moved out of the primary classroom, I noticed a distinctive shift, reading became a silent, internal process. Students were very rarely asked to read out loud, and as a result, identifying reading difficulties became much more difficult.

 

Think about it, if you have a child in 4th grade or higher, when is the last time you had them read out loud to you? As students internalize the reading process, it becomes silent. While this is a natural progression, it can do a major disservice to older readers who struggle.

 

As I have moved on in my career to become an online reading clinician, I have noticed that many parents of older children don’t know why they struggle with reading or what their specific struggles are. Usually, I hear that they struggle with comprehension. However, when I have the student read a text out loud to me, I find that in reality, their reading level is low. They can comprehend texts at their instructional level, but their instructional level is below grade level.

 

When asked to read grade level text silently in class, they cannot answer comprehension questions correctly. In many cases, this may not be due to a comprehension issue necessarily but is due to the fact that they cannot accurately and fluently read the text. Without asking the student to read aloud, this can often go undetected for months or even years.

 

In order to serve the student and increase their reading skills, the correct diagnosis of the issue is essential. This is why the reading clinicians at RW&C give each student a variety of assessments to determine the underlying reading issue. Our online tutoring program is then adjusted to fit the needs of each student in order to ensure reading success.

 

Older students are given phonics assessments to determine if the issue is related to letter sounds. They are also given fluency and comprehension assessments as well as writing and phonemic awareness activities. Simply because a child is older does not mean that they have mastered all the basic skills necessary to become fluent and competent readers.

 

I have often heard that when it comes to reading, it is not the age, it’s the stage. This could not be more true. It does not matter how old a child is or even what their grade level in school is. If they have not mastered the basics of reading, they need direct instruction.

 

Coming from a classroom background, I know that often upper-grade teachers are not trained in early literacy and often do not have the resources that students need to master early reading skills. If your older child struggles with reading, they may not get the help they need in school.

 

With our one-on-one online tutoring program, we can help your child whatever their reading issue. Our clinicians are trained in all aspects of literacy instruction and can tailor their sessions to meet the needs of your child. Don’t wait and hope that they will catch up, get them the help they need today.

 

Contact us to get started and learn more about our online tutoring program.

Becky Welsch
RW&C, LLC
www.rwc4reading.com






Becky Welsch has a Master’s degree in K-8 Education. She is certified to teach in the state of Arizona and has special endorsements in the areas of English Language Learners and Reading.

Becky has worked with struggling readers in the primary as well as secondary grades. Her experience also includes intensive reading intervention both in person as well as with online teletherapy.
Becky has experience with early literacy skills like phonics and phonemic awareness development. She has used several structured literacy programs including Language! and Spalding phonics. She is also trained to administer DIBELS tests and has worked with the DIBELS Next reading remediation program.
Phonics: Understanding The Relationship Between Sounds And Letters

Phonics: Understanding The Relationship Between Sounds And Letters

mosaic-catepillarIn a previous post about phonemic awareness, I discussed the importance of emergent reader’s understanding of phonemes or sounds in words. As children develop strong phonemic awareness skills, they need to begin to associate the sounds in words to letters or graphemes. The relationship between sounds and letters is called phonics.

 

Phonics is an essential building block in the reading process. Without learning to associate the phoneme with the grapheme, reading cannot occur. For fluent readers, phonics seems almost common sense, however, there is no natural connection between sounds and letters. Phonics cannot be learned through osmosis but instead must be explicitly taught.

 

748fa-alphabet-1219546__340252c2bcc0_pixabayPhonics is particularly important for emergent readers. Beginning around the age of 5, children should have daily explicit phonics instruction. Like many reading skills, some children may need only minimum exposure to a letter to connect the associated sound. Other children may need repeated and constant exposure to a letter to become automatic in connecting the correct sound. If your child is older and still struggling with letter-sound relationships, they can still benefit from phonics instruction. Every child must know the names and sounds of all the letters in the alphabet to become a good reader.

 

Here are a few ways that you can practice phonics skills with your child at home to help increase their reading proficiency:

  • Word Building: Using letter cards or Scrabble tiles, have your child build words. Encourage your child to first segment the sounds orally and then use the corresponding letter card to build the word and blend it back together. Talk with your child’s teacher or reading tutor to find out appropriate words to work on.
  • Letter Sound Practice: Make flash cards of letters or spelling patterns and quiz your child on them. For a list of appropriate spelling patterns talk with your child’s reading clinician  or teacher.
  • Race to Build a Word: Draw 7 consonants and 2 vowels from a stack of letter cards. Challenge your child to a race to see who can build the most words in 3 minutes. To make this more challenging use digraphs. Digraphs are two adjacent letters in the same syllable that represent a single speech sound. Some examples of consonant digraphs are (sh, ch, th, etc.). Vowel digraphs often called vowel team examples such as ( ee, ea, ay, ai, etc.) will add a higher level of practice . Check with your child’s teacher or reading tutor to see which digraphs are appropriate for your child’s level.
  • Slap A Letter: Create a game board of letters and digraphs that your child is working on using butcher paper or poster board. Give your child a fly swatter. Call out a sound and have your child slap the appropriate spelling pattern with their fly swatter.
  • Writing Practice: Say sounds and have your child write the appropriate grapheme. Say words and have your child segment the sounds and spell the words. Encourage your child to tell you how many sounds are in a word and identify any instances where two letters make one sound (like ck, sh, ay, etc.). Always ask your child to segment before writing and read the word when they are done.

 

mosaic-booksThese activities will help your child develop the phonics skills necessary to become a fluent reader. If you have an older child who struggles with reading, you may consider trying some of these to find out if phonics is an area they struggle.

If your child struggles with this foundational skill, it is imperative that you get them help from a reading specialist with training in structured literacy. Without explicit phonics instruction, it is unlikely that students with reading difficulties will increase their reading proficiency. If your child struggles, the best thing you can do as a parent is get them help as early as possible.

In our online tutoring program, our trained clinicians systematically and thoroughly teach phonics concepts to ensure that children master reading and writing. We also encourage parents to work with their children at home and provide many resources for you to use to help your child. If you are worried about your child’s reading, call us today to discuss your needs and learn how online tutoring with systematic phonics instruction can help your child succeed.

Look for more reading tips and tricks coming soon. If you are concerned about your child’s reading, call us today to set up a screening and find out if our online tutoring program is the right fit for your child.

Becky Welsch

RW&C, LLC

www.rwc4reading.com






Becky Welsch has a Master’s degree in K-8 Education. She is certified to teach in the state of Arizona and has special endorsements in the areas of English Language Learners and Reading.

Becky has worked with struggling readers in the primary as well as secondary grades. Her experience also includes intensive reading intervention both in person as well as with online teletherapy.
Becky has experience with early literacy skills like phonics and phonemic awareness development. She has used several structured literacy programs including Language! and Spalding phonics. She is also trained to administer DIBELS tests and has worked with the DIBELS Next reading remediation program.
Do I Love Him?

Do I Love Him?

My daughter’s first birthday is only two months away. Which means that it is time to start searching Pinterest for cakes to ruin for her and to look for party themes that I will never actually take the time to plan.

 I am thinking I might attempt this cake. For more on my cake making adventures, see my post called "Nailed It!" I can totally handle something this complex...

I think I should attempt this cake. Based on my son’s Mickey cake, I think I can handle this….

 I am thinking I might attempt this cake. For more on my cake making adventures, see my post called “Nailed It!” I can totally handle something this complex. During my search I got a little side tracked, which is shocking because Pinterest has never side tracked anyone. Ever. And I came across some quote about how if you love someone you can’t be mad at them for more than three days. If you are, you don’t really love them (I can’t find this quote again so there is a strong chance that I made it up in some sleep deprived stupor, but for the purpose of this blog, let’s say it’s real). Reading that got me thinking. I was irritated with my husband for the better part of the month of May. Now, before you start judging me, let me give you a bit of the back story. My husband is a creative type. He is constantly working on projects and building things. It makes him happy. However, it also leaves our counters looking like this:

Actually, this desk might have less shit on it than my counters did.

Actually, this desk might have less shit on it than my counters did.

This was a big project and had a deadline so my kitchen had junk everywhere for a month. So it was safe to say that I had been a little miffed at him for more than three days. But, what did this mean for my relationship? Did I love my husband? What an existential dilemma. I needed answers. And like everyone does when they have a crisis in life, I turned to the internet for answers.

Luckily my friends at allthetests.com had just what I needed. A quiz for people in my situation. An online quiz called “Are you like him or LOVE him (girls only).” Thank goodness it was for girls only. I wouldn’t want something that might think I’m a dude. And with these type of quizzes, it is important that they know your sex because they are extremely accurate and there is not much room for error. I mean, take this first question:

photo 2 (2)                This question is clearly meant for ladies only. None of those emojis look like gentlemen. The yellow smiley is clearly a girl. My favorite part about this question is that it doesn’t even relate to the quiz. I could choose any of those clearly female animations to describe almost any part of my day. At the time I was answering the question my baby was screaming and my two year old was whining because I wouldn’t give him chocolate for breakfast. I chose number 3.

As I progressed through the quiz, it became apparent that I should not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Although the first question may have been irrelevant, the rest were spot on and would clearly show the level of affection I felt for my husband. For example:photo 1 Well, anyone who knows me knows the story of how I relied that I like my husband. But there wasn’t an option for got a little drunk and told him “I like you and I don’t need anymore friends, so make a choice.” I guess it is kind of a combo of one, two, and three (the night is a little foggy, that’s why number three comes into play). Clearly this question is going to get to the heart of my feelings.

After reminiscing, I got to some more hard hitting questions. That is what you can count on all the tests for, questions that make you think, like this one:

photo 5  The all-knowing, grammatically meticulous quiz creator warned me that I must answer truthfully on this specific question (I lied on the rest) so I knew it was serious and would get to the crux of my marital state. Well, and the truth is, my husband I don’t have too much in common, but I do think we make a good couple. Oh no! A conundrum. I needed to answer truthfully but two answers were truthful. I thought back to my years as an educator and test prep training. Were there any choices I could eliminate? Well, I never use all caps so choice C could go. I was left with A and B. All my friends seems like quite the generalization and choices with all or never are rarely correct, so A it is. This test is proving to be more stressful than I first imagined.

So I kept going through the thought provoking questions until I got to this amazing one:

photo 4 Shy is not an adjective that anyone would use to describe my husband and I am not totally crazy pants, so options 2 and 3 are out. We do talk about a lot of stuff, but I can’t say I remember all of it. Luckily this question did not admonish me to reply truthfully so I picked option one.

After painstakingly going through each and every thought provoking and well written question, it was time for the best part. The results. My Pinterest created life dilemma would be solved. I would finally know for sure, do I love my husband?

photo 2 Wait, what? Do I love him? I don’t even understand this result. Maybe I wasn’t honest on question 4….