When it comes to dyslexia, an accurate diagnosis can be a critical first step for many students to begin receiving appropriate interventions. In his article “Why Is It So Difficult to Diagnose Dyslexia and How Can We Do It Better?” Richard K. Wagner, PhD. (Florida State University and Florida Center for Reading Research), suggests that a hybrid model for testing that accounts for multiple facets of reading development can give evaluators a more complete picture of a child and make diagnosing dyslexia more reliable than a single factor model. 

With an accurate diagnosis, children can get the intervention they need. A delay in diagnosis and intervention can lead to loss of critical intervention time for students who are already behind in their reading development. 

For more on Dr. Wagner’s research, check out his article here: https://dyslexiaida.org/why-is-it-so-difficult-to-diagnose-dyslexia-and-how-can-we-do-it-better/


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

Becky Welsch’s certifications include the CEERI Tier I Qualification Exam (aligned with the International Dyslexia Association’s Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading). She has completed the Associate Level Training through the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Professionals and Educators for one-on-one instruction with students using the Orton-Gillingham methodology. 

Becky has a Master’s Degree in K-8 Education She is certified to teach in the state of Arizona and has specialist endorsements in the areas of Reading and Structured English Immersion. 

Becky began teaching in the Arizona public school system in 2007. She worked in both primary and secondary grade levels as a reading intervention teacher and teacher mentor. Becky has training in Spaulding Phonics, DIBELS Next, The 95% Group, and other whole group, small group, and one-on-one intervention programs. 

In 2014, she took the leap into using teletherapy to deliver one-on-one Structured Literacy tutoring. She has accumulated hundreds of hours working 1:1 with students via teletherapy. 

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Many children with reading difficulties like dyslexia also display signs of having trouble with executive function. Executive function, simply put, is a set of skills that relate to working memory, task completion, flexible thinking, and emotional regulation. Executive function skills allow us to plan, organize, and execute a task. Every task from something as simple as putting a sock into a dirty hamper to those that are more complex like cooking a Thanksgiving dinner requires the use of executive function skills. Trouble with executive function skills can make it hard to focus, follow directions (even those that are step by step), and can cause difficulty with emotional regulation. Children who struggle with executive functioning may:

  • Have trouble completing tasks, even simple ones
  • Often forget information they just heard or read
  • Have difficulty following a sequence of steps or multi-step directions
  • Have issues transitioning from one task to another
  • Get excessively emotional
  • Have trouble with time management
  • Be unable to keep track of their belongings

One of the main consequences of executive functioning issues, particularly for students with dyslexia, is that it can take longer for them to learn new information, retain, and process or manipulate this information.

While executive functioning issues can be frustrating for many parents, there are ways to help encourage their development. Here are five ways you can help your child learn, develop, and improve their executive functioning skills:

  • Teach the skills they are lacking, do not expect them to simply observe and internalize them. For example, if your child struggles with time management, explicitly teach them how to use a planner or set up a color coded schedule to help them block their time throughout the day.  
  • Make their tasks shorter. Many children with executive functioning issue struggle with task initiation. If they struggle to get started, a lengthy task will seem daunting and will not provide an incentive to start. If you want your child to clean their room, start with something simple like put their dirty laundry in the hamper. 
  • Make the steps in multi-step tasks explicit. Rather than telling your child something vague like “go clean up your room,” give them clear, short, manageable steps with an end in sight for each one and a measurable goal. For example, you may ask them to:
    • Put their dirty laundry in the hamper
    • Pick up their stuffed animals
    • Make their bed
    • Put their books on the bookshelf
    • Put their toys in the toy box

Each of these steps is explicit and short. By breaking it down for your child you make it more likely that they will succeed. 

  • Make their tasks appealing. You can attempt to turn their tasks into games by challenging them to pick up a certain number of toys during a set amount of time, having them draw a chore from the chore jar, or playing music while they work. With homework, giving them a choice can also be very powerful. For example allowing them to choose whether they want to work on reading or math first gives them more ownership and makes them more likely to be able to complete their task. 
  • Play games to help build executive function skills. Jenga is a great game to help with executive functioning skills because it requires self-monitoring, flexible thinking, and impulse control. It also requires them to control their emotions if they lose (although in some cases this is easier said than done). Games like Distraction and MindTrap can also help with strategic and flexible thinking. For a longer list of games that can help build executive functioning skills, check out the list here.

If your child’s executive functioning deficits are impacting their reading skills, it is important to also get them Structured Literacy tutoring. Children who receive explicit and systematic instruction will have a strong advantage in committing challenging phonetic patterns to long term memory for automatic recall while reading, spelling and writing. 

Our reading clinicians at RW&C use explicit strategies to help students with reading difficulties and executive functioning issues. Our program meets the standards set by the International Dyslexia Association and we know that it works. Contact us today for more information and find out how we can help your child succeed. 


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

Becky Welsch’s certifications include the CEERI Tier I Qualification Exam (aligned with the International Dyslexia Association’s Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading). She has completed the Associate Level Training through the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Professionals and Educators for one-on-one instruction with students using the Orton-Gillingham methodology. 

Becky has a Master’s Degree in K-8 Education She is certified to teach in the state of Arizona and has specialist endorsements in the areas of Reading and Structured English Immersion. 

Becky began teaching in the Arizona public school system in 2007. She worked in both primary and secondary grade levels as a reading intervention teacher and teacher mentor. Becky has training in Spaulding Phonics, DIBELS Next, The 95% Group, and other whole group, small group, and one-on-one intervention programs. 

In 2014, she took the leap into using teletherapy to deliver one-on-one Structured Literacy tutoring. She has accumulated hundreds of hours working 1:1 with students via teletherapy. 

Resources: 

www.understood.org

Smart but Scattered by Ped Dawson, EdD, and Richard Guare, PhD

images from pixels.com

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When it comes to reading instruction, not all programs are created equally, especially for children who struggle with reading due to dyslexia or other learning disabilities. The most effective reading instruction teaches students to decode words in an explicit and systematic process, known as Structured Literacy. As a parent of a struggling reader you may feel like it is impossible to get the help you need. There are many online tutoring programs that are designed to help. While online tutoring can be a great option for many families, it is important to research the program to ensure that it offers effective reading instruction.

What to look for in an Online Tutoring Program

If you are looking for an online reading program, here are a few things to keep in mind when you are evaluating your options:

  1. Synchronous vs. Asynchronous: It is important to understand the program benefits and limitations for your child. Synchronous online programs require that the clinician works with you and your child in real time; this is beneficial because it allows for the clinician to adjust the instruction to meet your child’s needs dependent upon the response given. Participants can ask questions and offer suggestions to receive instant feedback similar to an in- office tutor; however, you may be thousands of miles apart! Limitations of this type of program may include difficulties scheduling meeting times with your clinician.  Asynchronous online programs provide pre-recorded instruction and computer-driven automated feedback depending on the student’s clicked response. These programs provide the benefit of access any time to meet your schedule. Limitations may include the lack of a clinician present to analyze your child’s error and offer techniques to avoid similar errors in the future.  
  2. Trained Clinicians: Just as an experienced and trained clinician is important during in-office tutoring, it is equally imperative in online tutoring. You’ll want to review not only the program but who is delivering the program. Look for online programs with clinicians who have received extensive training in Structured Literacy and have experience to deliver effective reading instruction remotely. Online programs can be very effective but they will only be as effective as the clinician working with your child, so make sure you choose wisely.
  3. Program Components: The National Reading Panel developed guidelines for effective reading instruction relating to phonemic awareness, phonics, morphology, vocabulary, comprehension, and fluency. Additionally, they include in their report methods of independent reading strategies and computer-assisted instruction techniques for students. An effective online tutoringprogram will incorporate these components as recommended by the experts.
  4. Instructional Process: The online program components must be introduced in the logical order of language development, beginning with the easiest concepts then progressing to more difficult concepts. It is paramount to always review the previously learned concepts; continuous and immediate feedback from the clinician is crucial for the skills to become automatic.
  5. Additional Support: Weekly sessions are important, but so is daily practice. Make sure that any program you choose offers resources for both traditional practice and online practice. In order to be successful, your child needs to repeat concepts until mastery. It is important that your child has access to books in an alternative format, such as audiobooks, until they are independent in their reading skills. 
  6. Progress Monitoring:Your clinician should offer baseline assessments as well as progress check points to ensure that your child is making progress. If not, the clinician should have the knowledge to offer suggestions and other methods of teaching to ensure that your child can succeed.
  7. Multi-Sensory Learning: Children are most successful when multiple modalities are utilized. An effective online program should include reading, writing, underlining, highlighting, graphic organizers, colored blocks or letters to manipulate, and other methods to engage your child.

By doing your research to ensure that your child participates in an exemplary online tutoring program, you will be taking an important first step in helping your child become a life-long reader. This is a gift that will last a lifetime!




Timmie Murphy
RW&C, LLC
www.rwc4reading.com
(480) 213-4156




Timmie Murphy is the founder and managing member of  RW&C, LLC; an online and traditional reading intervention clinic specializing in Structured Literacy methodology. While Timmie realizes the limitations of helping every struggling reader; she is dedicated to help one family at a time and can honestly say: “I made a difference to that one.”  See the Starfish Story. 
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It is widely understood that, on average, students lose academic skills during summer break. For many typical students, this can be a setback, for students with reading challenges, it can be devastating. Reading does not develop naturally and, according to research conducted by Judith Birsh “is highly dependent on language development and quality instruction” (2005). Without quality instruction over the summer months, many students will fall behind.

In 2018, the Northwest Evaluation Association conducted a study to determine how significant the summer slide is for students in grades 3-8. The results were sobering, with third grade students losing nearly 20% of their reading gains they had made during the school year. As students got older, this regression became even more alarming with the average student losing 36% of reading skills they had gained in 7th grade over the summer months (NWEA, 2018). 

While these numbers are alarming, they are not inevitable. Individualized, systematic, Structured Literacy based tutoring can help ensure that your child does not lose close to 40% of what they learned during the school year. If your child struggles with reading, this is even more important as underlying phonological deficits as well as working memory issues make learning and retaining skills even more difficult.  However, using scientifically based reading intervention with children has been found to make “significant and durable changes” in their brain’s organizational systems and patterns and in turn, significant reading gains (Birsh, 2005).

When you are exploring your options for summer tutoring for your child, it is crucial that you choose a program that follows the Structured Literacy framework (also known as the Orton-Gillingham approach). In addition, the tutor delivering the instruction should meet the guidelines laid out by the International Dyslexia Association for remediating reading difficulties. The program should also be individualized and customizable for your child. No two children need the exact same instruction which is why many box programs that are scripted cannot and do not work for everyone. Here at RW&C our highly trained and qualified reading clinicians meet IDA guidelines and are able to use their professional knowledge to personalize their instructional approach when needed. In order to prevent summer regression, your child needs personalized instruction. Additionally, the tutoring your child receives needs to be systematic, cumulative, explicit, and sequential in its approach. The program developed by RW&C explicitly teaches phonological awareness, phonics, syllabication, morphology, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension in a systematic and cumulative way until mastery is reached. The online tutoring program also uses diagnostic assessments as well as informal observation to customize each session to the needs of each client.

Other than program and clinician qualifications, it is also important to think about your schedule and lifestyle during the summer months. While instruction is important, so is the ability to have family time and opportunities for fun. Many families find intensive in-person programs to be impossible to navigate while still traveling or engaging in other activities. This is where an online tutoring program can be a perfect fit. Generally, online programs are more flexible and they can be done anywhere. Going on a trip? No problem, as long as you have internet access you can logon and have your child meet their reading clinician for their tutoring session. I have even had families use their phone as a hot spot so we could meet while they were camping. Online tutoring can fit into your busy lifestyle and allow you the flexibility you need to meet your child’s needs and still enjoy activities and trips. 

If you are considering an online program, it is important to critically evaluate all of your options and decide what will work best for your child and budget. In order to be effective, it must be multi-sensory and explicit. If you are evaluating different online programs, check out this useful checklist that can help you make an informed decision on what is right for your child. 

The summer slide is scary, but it is not inevitable. With quality Structured Literacy tutoring, your child will not only retain what they learned during the school year but will also make progress towards mastering new skills. By enrolling them in a tutoring program, you are giving them the gift of reading, which lasts a lifetime. 

For more information on our online tutoring program, contact us today. 


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

Becky Welsch is currently an Associate in Training with the Orton-Gillingham Academy of Practitioners and Educators. She 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 tele-therapy. 

Sources: Multisensory Teaching of Basic Language Skills, Judith R. Birsh 2005

http://dyslexia.yale.edu/resources/parents/stories-from-parents/taking-time-for-summer-fun/

Images from pexel.com

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When we think of reading issues like dyslexia, we often only consider how to help students be successful in their language arts classes. However, many learning issues that are related to dyslexia  can impact a student’s performance in other academic areas as well.  Students with reading difficulties need to have the appropriate accommodations and scaffolds in place so they can truly thrive in all environments. 

Math: For many students, accommodations needed to be successful in math classes can be overlooked because we often do not think of dyslexia as impacting performance in math. This could not be further from the truth. Many students who struggle with reading also struggle with rote memory issues. This can make memorizing math facts very challenging and hinder their ability to complete higher-level problems. Often, these students  can perform more complex mathematical calculations but their inability to memorize multiplication facts makes it nearly impossible for them to do so in an efficient manner. One way to support dyslexic students in math classes is to give them references for math facts. This may include multiplication charts, number lines, or even calculators to aid in solving memory-based math problems. 

Another simple and easy to implement math accommodation is to allow students to use graph paper. Often students who struggle with reading and writing will have trouble lining up problems and organizing their work. Graph paper provides a way for them to line up their numbers so that they can solve problems correctly. If you are a teacher who wants to try graph paper with your students, make sure to teach them how to use it correctly. Like any other math tool, it is only effective if students know how to use it to help them organize their work. 

You may also notice that many students have trouble with word problems. You can accommodate them by allowing the problems to be read to them. You can also teach them critical reading skills as they relate to math. Things like finding key information and coding problems using boxes and circling key words can help students with reading difficulties be more successful in solving word problems. If you are a teacher using this strategy, teach students how to find, code, and use essential information in word problems. It takes time to teach a consistent system, but it is extremely helpful for all students, especially those who struggle with reading. 

Social Studies:  As children get older, this content area becomes very reading intensive. Make sure that all teachers are following reading goals and accommodations for all students. These may include extra time on assignments or having audio options for grade-level text. Teachers can also re-write complex passages to an easier reading level but still include all key information. 

If you are a teacher and want to try re-writing text to make it more accessible to students who are not reading at grade-level, this can often seem like a daunting task. To make it more manageable, first decide on the main idea. Ask yourself “What do I want students to take away from this text?” If you are teaching the revolutionary war it might be something like “There were many important battles in the American Revolution.” If this is the case, you are going to type out this sentence somewhere in the beginning of the text. Make the main idea obvious for students who struggle. Then you will add in details from textbook or other text that you are using for reference. Break down complex sentences. Rather than  stating “The battles of Lexington and Concord were crucial battles that showed the British that the Americans were a force to be reckoned with,” you can make this same idea two simple sentences. “The battles of Lexington and Concord were critical battles. They showed the British that the Americans were able to fight.” The important thing here is not to create a literary masterpiece but to make the text more accessible to student who struggle with reading. Once you finish, you can turn on readability in your word processor and it will give you an approximate grade level of the final text. 

This may seem like a daunting task, but the more you practice the easier it will become. Additionally, with 1 of every 5 students having dyslexia, I guarantee you will have more students in the future who have trouble with grade-level reading. You can use these resources for years to come and share with colleagues. The benefits to students are immense as it allows them access the content without their reading abilities hindering them. 

Another accommodation that can help students who need reading intervention is to allow them use graphic organizers to sequence key events. A hallmark of dyslexia is difficulty sequencing so using a graphic organizer consistently can help them understand and internalize the content more efficiently. 

Science: Like Social Studies, this subject can be quite reading intensive and difficult for students who are not reading at grade-level. One way to help students with dyslexia be more successful in science is to pre-teach all content specific vocabulary using visual, auditory, and kinesthetic processes before asking them to read it in text. Teachers may even consider having them make their own dictionary of science related words with pictures and drawings to help them remember the vocabulary. 

Another way to make science more accessible to students with reading difficulties is to break down directions for experiments into multiple parts. Children with dyslexia often have issues with sequencing multi-step directions. Breaking directions down into simpler steps can help them be more successful. 

Science teachers may also try using graphic organizers for them to categorize, classify, or sequence what they are reading. Having a consistent way to organize information can help them when they need to recall facts or when they are completing a reading assignment. 

Another way to help students with dyslexia and other reading difficulties in a science class is to find audio books of their text. Often, science text is complex and above the reading level of even proficient readers. Having audio options available can help ensure that students with reading issues are still able to access the content. If you teach science, you may also want to re-write some of your textbook at a lower reading level. Check out the directions in the social studies section for some tips on how to do this. 

Although we may traditionally think of dyslexia as primarily a reading issue, it can and does often affect all academic areas. By pushing for accommodations in other areas, you can help your child be more successful. As a teacher, you can help your students achieve in your classroom by mitigating the role of their reading difficulty and providing them access to the curriculum. 

If you have academic performance concerns about your child or a student, Structured Literacy Intervention (also known as the Orton-Gillingham approach) can help with reading success. Contact us today for more information for yourself or to pass along to parents. 

Our online program is effective reading intervention that fits your schedule. 

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. 

Images from pexel.com

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In many classrooms, reading instruction takes the center stage during allotted literacy minutes and spelling can become an afterthought. It is often assumed that if students learn to read, they will spell naturally. This leads to many teachers and educators giving little importance to the direct instruction of spelling throughout the day. However, this view of spelling fails to recognize the vital role it plays in learning to read. Explicit, multi-sensory spelling instruction is an essential component of Structured Literacy instruction. 

Before we dive into discussing how spelling can be effectively taught to children of all ages, let’s first look at the research on spelling. First and foremost, spelling enhances reading instruction through the reinforcement of phonemes and letter patterns. Learning to spell requires explicit instruction (Moats, 1995). It is not a skill that children will naturally acquire as they learn to read. 

It should also be noted that there is a strong correlation between spelling and reading ability. In 2017, Treiman concluded that spelling knowledge facilitated vocabulary growth and increased a child’s word recognition speed. This indicates that children who are more proficient spellers will be able to read more quickly and will know and understand more words than those who struggle with spelling. An additional study found a strong link between spelling skills and reading comprehension. Students spelling abilities were correlated even more strongly with their reading comprehension abilities than automatic word recognition (Mehta et al., 2005). These results demonstrate that not only does spelling increase word recognition speed, but that it might be even more important than automatic word reading in increasing reading comprehension skills. 

The research demonstrates that explicit spelling instruction is crucial for children to become proficient readers. However, it is important to note here that this does not mean that children should be given a list a words to memorize each week. Spelling is a complex and interactive process that requires both phonological and orthographic knowledge. Put a bit more simply, children need to be able to hear, segment, and blend sounds in spoken language and then transfer those sounds to a written form. 

Like all literacy skills, spelling develops on a continuum and is not a simple process. There are a variety of skills that must be mastered in order for children to become proficient spellers. Firstly, students must have a strong phonetic foundation. Phonetics refers to the characteristics of individual speech sounds that make up spoken words. In order to represent spoken words in writing, children must be able to hear and segment speech sounds. For example, if a child needs to correctly spell the word “cat,” they must first be able to identify and segment the three sounds in the word. If a child struggles with spelling, the first issue to examine is their phonological awareness as it is impossible to be a proficient speller without having a solid understand of phonetic skills. For more information on phonemic awareness and ideas on how to strengthen it, check out our blog here

In addition to be able to produce and segment phonemes, children then have to associate those phonemes to graphemes, their written representation. This is true for all levels of spelling instruction. From simple, phonetically regular words like “cat” to advanced spelling patterns children must know what spelling patterns are possible to make that sound, which are allowable in the rules of English, and which are most common in order to choose the most likely spelling patterns. For example, if a student were asked to spell the word “boy,” they need to understand the two sounds in word are /b/ and /oy/. They then need to know the possible spelling patterns to make those sounds which would be “boi” or “boy.” Finally, they would need to understand that in written English, words do not end with the letter “i” (with a few exceptions) so “boi” is not an allowable spelling of the word. This requires direct and explicit orthographic instruction with direct modeling of how to transfer those skills from reading to spelling.

Another critical skill in spelling is morphology which is the study of morphemes. A morpheme is the smallest unit of language that has meaning. A one-syllable base word like jump is a morpheme. Other derivatives of this word can be created using suffixes like “jumping, jumped, jumps.” Phonetic spellers often spell the word “jumped” as “jumpt” because that is phonetically what the word sounds like. Explicit instruction in morphology includes systematic instruction in suffixes and inflectional endings like “-ed” so that students know even though they hear the /t/ sound, it is a past tense word and therefore spelled with “ed.” 

Direct and explicit instruction in prefixes, roots, and suffixes facilitates students’ ability to spell multisyllabic words and is critical for helping them develop higher level spelling skills. An effective Structured Literacy program includes the study of morphology at all levels. 

It is also important to understand that English is a mix of different languages. Many people, parents and educators alike, will say that certain words are “an exception.” Often times, the words they are referencing are not exceptions, they are simply derived from a different language. For example, words of Greek origin use the <ph> digraph to make the /f/ sound. Words with Latin roots make up around 55% of the language and are often comprised of a base connected with a prefix or a suffix. Anglo-Saxon root words comprise around 20% of the language and are usually one-syllable words that name common objects. They are also responsible for many of those pesky silent letters like “kn” and “-tch.” 

Knowing the origin of a word can aid students in understanding its spelling. For example, take the word “come,” it sounds like it should have a “u” instead of an “o” as the vowel. Well, guess what, originally it did. However due to scribal writing styles, it was too hard to read when it was written so the “u” was changed to an “o.” The “e” was added at the end to show its relationship to the past tense form of the word, “came.” While this may seem complicated to an adult who has the spelling memorized, it can help the written language make sense to a child who is struggling. 


Formal spelling instruction must include all these elements to be effective. It must include multiple instructional experiences with phonological skills like blending and segmenting,  as well as opportunities to use phonics skills and invented spelling in the primary grades. All spelling patterns need to be introduced directly, explicitly, and systematically while using multisensory instructional techniques. The visual, auditory, and kinesthetic parts of the brain must be engaged simultaneously during spelling instruction. Students should also have multiple opportunities to analyze and sort words and there needs to be a multisensory procedure for learning irregular words. Word sorts that are approached from a visual skill are ineffective. In order to become automatic in any spelling pattern, the students must engage all modalities while reading the word and analyzing the orthographic patterns. Simply looking at the word and transferring it to a specific column will not enable the students to become proficient spellers. 

Our online reading program incorporates the best practices in spelling instruction and uses spelling as a tool to enhance reading and literacy skills. For us, spelling is never an afterthought. Explicit spelling instruction by a trained Reading Clinician is life-changing for many of our students. We teach them the language;  we do not ask them to memorize words and rules. 

If your child struggles with spelling, don’t rely on rote memorization and do not accept the answer that it will come with reading development. Spelling needs to be explicitly taught. Contact us today for more information and to get your child the help they need. 

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






Becky Welsch has a Master’s degree in K-8 Education. She has completed 64 hours of Orton-Gillingham training at the Associate Level with the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Professionals and Educators. 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. 

Resources: Multisensory Teaching of Basic Language Skills by Judith Birsch

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As parents, we are our child’s number one advocate and are often the first to notice when they are having issues. This is particularly true in the area of reading development. Often parents may begin to notice warning signs in their children as early as preschool, yet they are often told by teachers and educational specialist to wait and see. Yet, as I have stated before, this approach is ineffective for the majority of kids with reading difficulties. Early identification means early intervention which leads to better outcomes and remediation for your child. 

However, many parents are not literacy experts and don’t always know what to look for when it comes to red flags for a reading difficulty. In fact, some of you might be wondering what to look for in a preschool student because, well, most three-year-olds are not reading so how can they have a reading difficulty? 

I understand your frustration and I want you to be able to effectively advocate for and make decisions about your child. So, I put together a list of some warning signs of dyslexia at various ages. It is very important to note a few things though. First and foremost, many of us may have one or two of these characteristics that does not mean that we all have dyslexia. Usually a child with a significant reading issue like dyslexia will have multiple characteristics that persist over time and make learning difficult. It is also important to note that this list is not exhaustive and if you are concerned about your child, it is important to get them Structured Literacy intervention to help remediate their difficulties. 

With that being said, here are a few common characteristics of dyslexia in preschool and kindergarten aged children:

  • Late learning to talk and slow to learn new words – if your child was a late talker without an apparent hearing difficulty, this can be an early sign of dyslexia as oral and written language are related.
  • Difficulty following directions – if you ask your child to perform directions that are age appropriate and they have difficulty remembering what to do, this can be an early sign of dyslexia. Of course, I think all preschool parents can relate here, it can also just be a sign of being three. However, if you know that your child is not being willfully defiant, it can be a warning sign of language processing issues. 
  • Avoids letters despite being explicitly taught them –  if you have worked on the alphabet with your five-year-old daily yet they only know two letter names, this is a sign that they are at risk for reading difficulties. 
  • Difficulty rhyming – by age 4 or 5, children should be able to identify and produce rhyming words, if they cannot they may have a reading issue like dyslexia. 
  • Cannot recall letter sounds – if your child is in kindergarten and does not know letter sounds it can be red flag for reading issues. 

As your child gets older, these signs generally persist and are compounded by some of these in grades 1st through 3rd :

  • Cannot recall sight words even after practice
  • Poor phonics skills 
  • Inaccurate and slow reading
  • Difficulty sequencing – this applies to sequencing events in a story as well as days, months, time, etc. In some cases, your child may even have difficulty with words like before or after saying things like they brushed their teeth “after” they went to bed. 
  • Poor spelling skills – this is an especially important indicator if they eliminate speech sounds. For example, if the word is bend and they write bed, it suggests they do not have the phonological skills necessary to be successful without structured literacy intervention. Make sure to pay attention to this on writing assignments, not just spelling tests. Many dyslexic children can fool their teachers and parents because they have good visual memory skills so they can memorize spelling words. 

As children move into intermediate grades 4th and then into high school, many of these problems will persist and there will be additional signs like: 

  • Slow , inaccurate, and laborious reading – at this point your child is working so hard to decode words that reading fluency is seriously affected. 
  • Weak reading comprehension when compared to listening and oral comprehension 
  • Poor spelling skills and handwriting in written assignments 
  • Slow at working on literacy skills – homework will often take hours and lead to frustration 
  • Poor comprehension and vocabulary due to lack of access to grade level text
  • Needs intensive intervention to increase reading and spelling skills 

It is important to note that in many cases these reading, writing, and language issues exist despite being part of a strong instruction program or being read to by a parent. I have often heard “but my son is in a good school” or “I read to her every night.” Dyslexia and other reading difficulties develop without regard to exposure to literacy. 

If you have concerns about your child, start getting them the help and support they need to be successful. You are their number one fan and the person they need in their corner. 

Contact us today if you have questions  or need more information.

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. 

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As teachers, we can often become so accustomed to hearing certain professional terms that we do not always consider that they are not part of the public vernacular. One example of this I saw when I was a teacher was with DIBELS scores. I would rattle off acronyms like PSF or NWF and assume that parents knew what I was talking about and what the implications were for their child. It has become clear to me that they often did not. So, to save you some time I created a handy reference sheet you can use with research supported data when talking to parents about their child’s DIBELS scores. 

It is important to know that DIBELS can also give parents some major anxiety. While it is not a perfect measure, it can be an accurate predictor of future reading outcomes, but in order to understand possible outcomes, they first must understand what is tested and what each score means. I find it helpful to go over each subtest individually with them. If you need some more information on that, this blog geared towards parents can be a great place to start. 

It is crucial for parents to understand the scoring system. Parents will need to know if their child is Well Below Benchmark, Below Benchmark, At Benchmark, or Above Benchmark. You can give them this information as well as their child’s composite score. 

Once they have the score, it is helpful to break down exactly what each one of these scores means for their child.

  • Above Benchmark: If your child scores Above Benchmark it means your child is performing well above the average for their grade level. Given appropriate core classroom instruction, the chances that they will meet literacy goals is above 90%.
  • At Benchmark: If your child scores At Benchmark they are performing at an average level for their grade. Without intervention and with only effective core classroom instruction, the likelihood that they will reach early literacy goals is 70% to 85%. Students who score at the lower level of At Benchmark are likely to need some strategic intervention to reach reading goals.
  • Below Benchmark: If your child scores Below Benchmark, it is very likely that classroom support will not be enough for them to reach subsequent reading goals. In fact, with only core classroom instruction, the likelihood that students who score Below Benchmark will achieve reading goals is only about 40% to 60%. If your child scores in this area, it may be time to think about an effective reading program for them.
  • Well Below Benchmark: If your child scores Well Below Benchmark goals, it means they are significantly behind grade level norms. Without appropriate intervention, the likelihood that they will make reading progress is only about 10% to 20%. These students need intensive reading intervention.

Once parents understand their child’s scores, they have more information and can find the best way to support their child at home. Providing intervention for struggling students supports your classroom goals and helps ensure that all of your students are successful. 

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. 

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With the beginning of the school year come excitement, assessments, and paperwork. While you are meeting your new students and their families, you are also planning for how to maximize their success this year. You are thinking about staff meetings, lesson plans, small groups, and countless other issues. 

One important factor to keep in mind is to make sure you are watching your students for potential reading, writing, and spelling issues. As their teacher, you are often their first line of defense against academic issues and their most important advocate. 

This time of year is extremely busy and you are getting to know your students. It is incredibly important to keep your eyes open for potential reading difficulties. The sooner you can spot them, the sooner you can begin to recommend reading intervention that works. 

There are a few telltale signs in a classroom that a student is struggling. They may: 

  • Avoid participation in reading exercise
  • Read the same word differently across a passage
  • Read the beginning of a word correctly but guess at the rest of the word
  • Work 2-3 times longer (harder) to complete an assignment
  • Struggle to remember the content of the reading material because, for that student, the process of reading is so laborious

Most importantly, a student with a reading challenge may show limited growth compared to their peers in reading, spelling, or writing DESPITE participating in an outstanding academic program. 

Chances are, you have a student in your class who fits this profile. They are struggling despite your best teaching and attempts to help them. They need intervention with a Structured Literacy program. Often, this means that they need outside help. 

We all want what is best for our students. If you notice them struggling, do not wait until conferences or after winter break to bring it up to their parents. Let them know as soon as you see issues and discuss the external resources available to help their child. 

Our online program is proven and effective with struggling students. Our trained clinicians deliver one on one tutoring via an online platform. Together, we can help your students succeed. 

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. 

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Up until about ten years ago, there was a prevailing theory in reading instruction that some children simply took longer to mature. If they were having reading difficulties, time would somehow fix them, and they would eventually catch up. In short, these children were seen as being “late bloomers.” Teachers would tell parents to wait and see and early intervention for reading was delayed under the assumption that these students simply needed more time to catch up to their peers. 

This was known as the developmental lag theory and was the prevailing ideology for nearly 30 years. It was also the justification for waiting to intervene in reading until the difficulties were quite severe. However, as our understanding of reading instruction has grown, this theory has been disproven by the evidence. 

New research indicates that early intervention with an appropriate Structured Literacy program is crucial to closing the reading gap. This new theory, known as skill deficit, indicates that waiting does not work and that children will not pick up literacy skills without explicit instruction. The old approach of wait and see is actively harmful to struggling readers as it causes them to fall further behind instead of addressing their reading issues. 

The research behind skill deficit theory is substantial and indicates that students who struggle with reading need early intervention as it makes their reading success significantly more likely. In fact, 90% of students who struggle with reading difficulties will achieve grade level reading outcomes if they receive reading intervention by the first grade. However, if intervention is delayed to age 9 or later, 75% of these students will continue to struggle throughout their school career. Furthermore, if students get reading intervention in the fourth grade as compared to the end of kindergarten, it will take them nearly four times longer to make the same amount of skill gains. 

So, what does this mean for parents and teachers? Well, quite simply put, it means that late bloomers are not going to bloom without some help. Children who struggle with early literacy skills have the best chance of catching up if they are given appropriate Structured Literacy intervention. The earlier they can start, the better their outcomes. 

Students who do not receive appropriate early reading intervention can seem to be stuck in a sort of downward spiral, but it does not have to be this way. While it is clear that we cannot “wait and see” to improve reading, there are methods of intervention that are supported by the most recent reading research. 

If your child struggles with reading, it is critical that they get the help they need. However, not all reading intervention is created equal and if you want to close the gap, you need to make sure their intervention is appropriate. Teaching something the same way repeatedly will not cause them to magically “get it.”

At risk readers need explicit, systematic instruction. They need an OG based program like our online tutoring program that emphasizes phonological awareness skills like rhyming, phoneme segmentation, blending, and substitution. They need explicit and systematic phonics instruction as well as direct instruction in vocabulary and word meanings. A quality program will also include direct and explicit instruction in morphemes and include significant practice time. A fluency component will also need to be directly taught so that children learn to read quickly and accurately. Comprehension also needs to be included and specific. 

With appropriate and early intervention, children who struggle with reading can and do catch up to their grade level peers. As a parent, we want our children to experience success and an effective reading program is one of the best ways we can ensure they learn to read.

After reading this, if you have an older child, you may feel disheartened. Don’t. While early intervention is more effective, you can still intervene with older students. The process may be slower, and it may require a more intensive schedule, but it is possible. 

If you are looking for an effective program for your child, regardless of their age, our online tutoring may be the right fit. Our trained reading clinicians work with your child one-on-one using research-based techniques. With the right help, your child can succeed. 

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. 

Sources:

https://www.aft.org/periodical/american-educator/fall-2004/avoiding-devastating-downward-spiral

https://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/reading-disorder-or-developmental-lag/

https://www.readingrockets.org/article/waiting-rarely-works-late-bloomers-usually-just-wilt

Resources for Choosing an Intervention Program: 

https://rwc4reading.com/wp-content/presentations/Online%20Reading%20Program%20Evaluation%20Checklist.pdf

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