This program is the “gold standard” for teaching reading to kids with dyslexia. It focuses at the word level by teaching the connections between letters and sounds. Orton–Gillingham also uses what’s called a multisensory approach. It taps into sight, sound, movement and touch to help kids link language to words. Students learn the rules and patterns behind why and how letters make the sounds they do. Orton–Gillingham is the basis for a number of other reading programs. These programs are mostly used by special education teachers.
Children learn best when multiple senses or areas of development are included.  That’s why hands-on learning produces longer retention and more meaningful application.  Once your child has shown an interest in letters and you have already begun to utilize natural settings for identifying those letters, begin implementing activities that incorporate as many senses as possible.  Keep in mind that learning letter names isn’t nearly as important as learning their sounds!
Start to make word-sound associations. Before you even start getting into the alphabet and sound specifics, help your child recognize that the lines on the page are directly correlated to the words you are speaking. As you read aloud to them, point to each word on the page at the same time you say it. This will help your child grasp the pattern of words/lines on the page relating to the words you speak in terms of length and sound.
I’ve read to her since she was a newborn and she loves books. She likes me to read the same books to her over and over. I ask her questions about the story, she looks at the pictures and, without my provocation, she loves to study the pictures and talk at length about the story. I realize now, thanks to your suggestions, that while she is not sounding out and decoding, she is comprehending the actual story, which is more meaningful and productive.

This is one of the great tragedies of the American school system. It is even more heartbreaking when you talk to scientists about how the human brain reads. Researchers estimate that somewhere between 2 and 5 percent of children, most of whom have developmental disorders or profound neurological problems, will never learn to read. The rest? If they are given what experts say is the right kind of instruction, they will learn to read, and most of them will be able to read well.
Another thing I think is important to remember is to not get frustrated. When it comes to reading, things that seem “obvious” to you aren’t obvious at all to someone who’s learning to read, but when you forget that it can be easy to get frustrated because your child isn’t understanding that seems so obvious to you. Go into it knowing that you’re going to need to be patient! It will definitely give you a new level of appreciation for people who teach children as their profession.

Robyn – At four, I would say that the important thing is not to specifically get her to colour or write, but to have general fine motor skills. Do open-ended crafty and arty things which are about having fun and experimenting, not producing a specific outcome like a coloured-in drawing or something that looks like a word. Look at pictures of different styles of art and talk about them with her, encouraging her to observe the detail, and have feelings and impressions about what she likes and doesn’t like. Encourage any fine motor activities that she likes, and don’t stress if writing or colouring is occasional. Writing probably feels very laborious to her if her other language skills are so good. Have you tried offering to help her write a story and just get her to help you with the occasional letter or word, so she feels like she is getting a story out that has the complexity she’s interested in without getting stuck on the work of manually getting down the first few words? I’d perhaps look at incorporating little moments of writing or drawing into daily life, rather than being a task in and of itself. So perhaps you could make labels for things together, or you could play a game of snakes and ladders but introduce a new rule that if she lands on a snake she can go down the snake or draw a snake or write an s (the choice is hers – I’d avoid making it something she has to do as well as going down the snake cause then it will seem like a punishment rather than an opportunity to escape a punishment). Look at ways to make games of it that make it a bit more exciting: eg. (“Let’s see how small we can write your name? Can we get it smaller?” Then take chalk or water and a paintbrush out to the footpath and say, “Now let’s see how BIG we can write your name?”) Decorate soaps, glasses, and t-shirts. Write in the sand at the beach or playground.
Hi TripleAMom! I am a big advocate of preschool reading and I have looked at Starfall myself. However, personally I found that it didn’t work that well as most kids I deal with are visual learners. For this reason I developed my own system “Teach Your Child To Read & Reading with Phonics” and have had some incredible results, both with my own child and with many others. Many kids are visual learners, including children with disabilities such as dyslexia and autism, and phonics reading doesn’t work that well for them.
Have your child read aloud to you. You’ll be given a better idea of your child’s reading ability when they read out loud, and they’ll be forced to slow down their reading to correctly sound out words. Avoid stopping your child to correct them while reading though, as doing so can interrupt their train of thought and make comprehending what they’re reading more difficult.
Another thing I think is important to remember is to not get frustrated. When it comes to reading, things that seem “obvious” to you aren’t obvious at all to someone who’s learning to read, but when you forget that it can be easy to get frustrated because your child isn’t understanding that seems so obvious to you. Go into it knowing that you’re going to need to be patient! It will definitely give you a new level of appreciation for people who teach children as their profession.

There are a plethora of ways to incorporate multiple domains of development in regards to letter recognition and early-reading skills.  Alphabet crafts allow your child to learn the shape of a letter along with an association of the sound it makes all the while utilizing fine motor skills in the process of cutting, gluing, and creating!   Playing games that involve gross motor skills (like tossing beanbags on the appropriate letter) are also wonderful ways to include movement.  Of course, every child loves songs and rhymes!  Take an inventory of your child’s strengths and areas of interest and target activities to fit them!


Hi :) First of all, that’s a bunch of useful tips you posted here Jenae! I have a lovely six-year-old daughter and I’ve been trying to start teaching her how to read for a few months now. I went through a lot of parenting forums and tried so many things, but what seems to work for her is simply playing educational games on our iPad ;) She’s got loads of them but the one she likes the most is called ‘Flincky Mouse’ and I’m even happier since we’re using Polish at home (my husband is British, but I’m from Poland) and the app comes in Polish as well. We’re also trying to read to her as much as possible and I hope she’ll appreciate it in the future! Anyway, thanks so much for the article and see you around.
What a great post! May I ask for some advice? I am homeschooling my 7 year old daughter. Our curriculum has her learning about 15-20 new vocabulary words a day. She has a bit if trouble. She can read a sepecific word, and then have to read it in a sentence on the next page and completely blanks. What do I do? How do I handle this? She also tends to see a letter and assume what word it is (ex. Haul- she read as “hug”). How do I help her get through this? I have not been able to find any resources on reading for a 1st grader. Also what level she should be at, if that even matters right now. Your help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. 	
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