Fluent Reading & Dyslexia
Once a child can easily read a word, then decoding becomes unnecessary. The word (as a whole) is eventually stored away in his or her memory, reading speed increases and the student becomes a fluent reader. This is the ultimate goal, and a dyslexic child can become a fluent reader.
How a Dyslexic Child Can Become a Fluent Reader
First, your child must learn to decode words with a reading program that is based on the Orton-Gillingham approach. Once they have enough skills to decode words, then they should read books that interest them. This should be done out loud with a proficient reader (such as a parent). According to the National Reading Panel, reading fluidity comes from reading out loud in a consistent manner with feedback. If your child gets stuck on a word, give him or her a chance to decode it, using the sounds and rules taught, offer help when needed (avoid frustration as much as possible). It's very helpful to cover parts of the word with your finger and have him read the sounds learned (along with the rules), this can be any part of the word in any order. For example, if the word is "concentrate", you may want to cover everything but the 'ate', then the 'con', then the 'cen'. If your child knows all the sounds and rules, this multisyllable word may look intimidating, but once broken down, is fairly easy to decode.
Must Be Able to Pronounce Words
You can't fluently read what you can't pronounce. If you've ever read medical abstracts (unless you're a doctor or in the medical field) then you most likely came upon words you didn't recognize. Most people skip over these large, strange sounding words. This is what it's like for a dyslexic child with words they can't pronounce. They would rather skip the word and move on, which can change or lose the meaning of a sentence. To overcome this, make a list of words that your child has trouble pronouncing and go over them daily, until they're mastered. It's a good idea to keep a pad and pen with you when you are reading together, this way you can jot down the words the child has trouble with.
What is an appropriate reading level?
Schools often use the Fountas-Pinnell system to assign a reading level to a student. The chart below shows the levels defined for Fountas-Pinnell, and beneath that chart are links to books for each of those levels (catorgorized by grade).
Click here for the free Adobe Acrobat Reader.
If you don't have the Fountas-Pinnell level for your child, and want to determine your child's reading level, we recommend DORA (Diagnostic Online Reading Assessment) which can be done at home.
Choosing the Right Book for Your Dyslexic Child
Online bookstores, brick and mortar stores and libraries can be overwhelming if you don't know what you're looking for.
Before making your selection, ask around for suggestions and visit sites like Amazon.com to read reviews. Just be aware that your dyslexic child is
probably reading below grade level (one, two or even more years), so choose accordingly.
A method of choosing a book that we do not recommend, is the "five finger method", which is quite popular. The method specifies that If the child has trouble reading five or more words on a page (or doesn't know their meanings) then the book is too difficult. This method is not suitable for dyslexic students, since they will often end up reading books that won't interest them. Instead, we recommend that your child select a book of interest, and then read that book with a proficient reader (a parent, tutor, older sibling, etc.). This should be done side-by-side, where the proficient reader points to each word at it is read, and double-taps on the words incorrectly read. Help should be offered when your child has trouble (see below for more tips), and if reading becomes too difficult, read the larger paragraphs while the child follows along. Let him or her read the smaller paragraphs. The goal is to show that reading is fun and interesting.
We also recommend easy decodable chapter books that are created for dyslexic students who have not yet gained fluency. These type of books offer subject matter that is of interest to an older child but with a reading level for a younger child. Learn more about these books.
10 Tips for Reading Improvement
- When reading
together, use your finger as a guide; when your child
mispronounces a word, tap your finger on the word so (s)he knows to
back and try again. If the child has trouble, cover it
up with your finger, only revealing the parts (one part at a
time), get your child to sound out the syllables.
Note that often dyslexic students read in a robotic, monotone voice. Eventually, as they become fluent, this should end. In the meantime, encourage them to put inflection into their voice and try to get them to read outloud the same way that they speak.
- When you no longer need to guide your child (using your finger), it is convenient to have two of the same books, so you won't need to share when reading together.
- When reading to your child, make it interesting and set a good example; use inflections in your voice, laugh when you think something is funny, get excited about the story. Ask your child questions, such as what they think will happen next, or if they think the main character made the right decision.
- After reading a book rent the movie (if there is one) and watch it together. Ask your child if he or she imagined the story like it was in the movie. Ask what was different and which version they liked better.
- Preview the chapter beforehand, writing down any words you think will be unfamiliar to your child (such as "peer", "reluctant", "vast", etc.) and talk about these words before reading (better yet, look them up in a dictionary together). Point out these words when you come to them in the book.
- Once your child has become confident in decoding, try to get him or her to read independently as much as possible.
- Bring your child to the library or bookstore; make them participate in selecting a book to read. Also, pick up a magazine that they would find interesting. Use your computer; there are many great websites that are great reading and writing motivators.
- Increase your child's vocabulary; watch documentaries, visit museums, engage in quality conversations.
- Be a role model; read books yourself. If you enjoy fiction, tell your child about the book you're reading. Let them know what's going on in your story.
- Encourage your child to write about what he or she read. Have him/her draw pictures and explain to you what the story was about. This is a good time to introduce concepts such as plot, climax and resolution. Discuss the characters; who was the good or bad "guy". Basically, create a dialogue so your child can share what was read.