Dr. Beth Klein at The Reading Portal
High impact reading instruction
Homeschool parents are highly invested in finding the best instructional materials. But what are the most important components of a highly effective reading program, and what are the best ways to implement it? These are important questions to consider, since a child's reading ability impacts all academic areas.
Many kids struggle to read, despite being bright. The literacy statistics are very concerning:
Only 33% of 4th graders and 31% of 8th graders tested as proficient in reading on the 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Moreover, these results have remained steady year after year. School-based reading instruction, and many homeschool curricula as well, often fail to adequately build very important skills that students need to become fluent readers.
Phonemic awareness, phonics and decoding ability are critical for reading and spelling success. These skills are strong in fluent readers. Academic skills can only truly improve if these reading-related skills are intact. Phonemic awareness refers to the ability to:
* Perceive sounds that make up words (called phonemes)
* Make changes with sounds within words
* Blend sounds together to form words
Kids also need strong phonics skills, to quickly retrieve the sounds represented by graphemes (letters or letter combinations). When kids are explicitly taught how to blend sounds while decoding they better learn the process of reading. A child needs to be able to apply these skills quickly and automatically. Yet most programs don't teach the process of decoding and blending written words.
Your child can become a skilled reader by building foundational skills of phonemic awareness and letter-sound knowledge, along with learning how to decode words. When parents and teachers learn best practices to explicitly teach the process of decoding, their students make much greater gains. We need to give kids not just the key to the code, but instruction on how to turn they key! As they practice with teacher feedback, they develop the ability to decode new words on their own.
Homeschool Parent Coaching
Students make the quickest gains with a combination of student tutoring and parent coaching, but both aren't always needed. For students with mild reading difficulties, or for emerging/early readers, Parent Coaching can help create a learning environment where students make greater academic gains more quickly. The sooner a child learns to read, the sooner they can read to learn!
The importance of the curriculum and how it's implemented
Reading programs often focus on context clues and reading comprehension strategies, but
if a child can't decode the words on the page, there's no way to comprehend what was read.
Many homeschool parents spend hours and hours trying to teach their kids to read, but many
children don't become fluent. The type of curriculum matters, and how the material is presented matters. Without training in reading instruction, it's difficult to be an effective reading teacher.
Some kids will pick up reading skills no matter how they're taught, as their brains rewire more
easily for reading, but many, many kids are left behind.
Building the foundation, paired with practice and meaningful feedback, makes all the
difference in learning to read. These collectively build fluency. The goal is to lift the words
off the page automatically.
Many curricula follow the science of reading, using a print-to-speech approach. While
print-to-speech approaches can be effective, they don't work for all kids. These programs typically present one phonogram at a time (such as 'ch' or 'ow'), which slows the process of learning. Further, they present complicated rules, for which there are many exceptions (such as syllable division rules). This confuses many kids, taxes their working memory, and takes them out of the process of reading, which inhibits fluency. I can provide links to research which supports these concerns.
Kids learn to read much more quickly through more powerful curricula using a speech-to-print approach, which leverages a child's natural oral language ability. These programs do not rely on rules, but instead focus on sound-based language patterns and a more intuitive learning process. When kids grasp the concept that letter strings represent sounds, the process of decoding develops more easily. Speech-to-print instruction builds reading circuitry in the brain much more quickly and effectively, and as a result kids stay motivated and engaged. Collectively, this sparks exponential growth in reading ability.
Using simplified, powerful, evidence-based teaching methods results in the quickest and greatest gains in reading. This allows kids to become more capable and successful in all academic areas, which enhances self-efficacy and self-esteem. Imagine how much your child can achieve when reading skills are more in line with true potential.
How do I differ from other reading tutors and specialists?
* Parent coaching geared specifically to the homeschool community
* Many years of evaluating and diagnosing students with dyslexia and learning disabilities, which gives me insight into the different underlying reasons that students struggle. I can uniquely and holistically tailor instruction to your child's specific needs.
* Use of highly effective programs
I specialize in reading programs that:
* Use evidence-based direct instruction
* Have simplified designs that focus on key skills
* Use a speech-to-print approach that fast-tracks reading progress
* Teach decoding for words with more than one syllable (usually not taught in school)
* Give kids lots of practice and feedback
* Use engaging reading materials that reinforce learned letter-sound patterns
* Focus on handwriting, spelling and writing skills
* Include lessons in vocabulary and morphology (the study of meaningful word parts)
Using a simplified and focused design with engaging materials builds reading fluency more quickly than traditional phonics programs.
Areas that can be impacted
READING/WRITING: Print awareness, phonemic awareness and proficiency, word decoding and blending, reading fluency, reading comprehension, spelling, grammar, syntax, and written expression
MATH: Symbolic processing, word problems
Reading impacts every single subject in school.
Why would a bright student continue to struggle?
*What has been your child's learning trajectory for key underlying skills?
*What are persistent areas of difficulty?
*Does your child require more intensive remediation, or a different type of instruction?