I was a good reader, but not very fast. My older brother seemed to devour a book faster than I could get through the first page. I savored the words and found myself rereading sentences or whole paragraphs sometimes to make sure I was getting it all. My younger brother on the other hand didn’t care for books at all. I never realized how much he struggled. Now, I realize that he is dyslexic – and so is my dad. I knew that school was not easy for them and I think that was part of my inspiration to become a teacher. They are so smart, creative, and such amazing problem solvers that I decided they just weren’t taught in the right way.
As I became a teacher I was disappointed with the teacher preparation I received for reading. My professor told me that only 40% of our English language is regular. Once students were taught the alphabet and the long and short sounds of vowels – kids would just get it. She said there was no point in teaching phonics and so our assignments focused on guided reading groups and comprehension projects. As I became a second grade teacher, I had students – like my dad and brother – that didn’t get it. They struggled and telling them to “sound it out” didn’t seem to help.
On my campus was an amazing teacher, Mrs. Laney. She was a dyslexia therapist. Students that had difficulty reading were often referred to her. She conducted assessments and took the results for review and if a team of other therapists agreed, they were added to a small group for Mrs. Laney to work her magic. And, it was magical. Soon the students were gaining confidence and were actually READING! They were making amazing progress and I wanted to know the secret. What was she teaching that was so different than how I was teaching and why did it work? That began my journey to become a dyslexia therapist, too.
Through my training to become a Certified Academic Language Therapist (dyslexia therapist), I’ve learned that it’s not 40% or our language that is regular, it’s more like 85% and teaching the rules of our language – the way letters represent sounds and how they fit together to make words – just makes sense! I’m so blessed to have learned the secrets that should be taught to everyone! I know it works for students with dyslexia but it can help other students, too – even those that seem to “get it” right away. Along with the other Word Nerds – we’re on mission to spread the news. There is a connection between spelling and reading, the rules make sense, and knowing them can make anyone a better reader and speller. So join us, become a word nerd, and discover these little know secrets to help you, your students, and anyone you know that struggles, become confident and competent readers and spellers.