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My youngest son just turned ten.
It has been a huge milestone, for him and for his momma.
He is 100% sure that he is a man now, except for the times that he is 100% sure that he would much rather be a little boy. He waffles between asserting his independence, and crawling up on my lap to snuggle.
And the older he gets, the more he worries about his reading level.
My son is profoundly dyslexic. He has been patiently, diligently, painfully studying this complex thing we call written language for six full years now. And, most of the time, it still escapes him.
At ten, he has become fatigued with it all. He is tired of the flashcards, the read-alouds, the worksheets.
At ten, he looks at his older brother, with his nose shoved in a college level book and says, “I just want to read. For real. Not the baby books.”
At ten, he is beginning to feel defeated. For the first time, I have seen him begin to doubt that it is going to work. That his hard work will pay off. That he will eventually get there.
In addition to praying for patience for me, and encouragement for him, I have found the only way to keep my all boy, super active, wicked smart, but still wavering between a 1st and 2nd grade reading level boy engaged, is to make his reading lessons as hands on, and physical as possible.
And guess what? The more I incorporate hands-on activities into our day, the more he is learning. He is learning to read faster. It is “sticking” more than it ever did. He is growing in confidence, because for whatever reason, when he is engaged in a physical activities, the words begin to click with less effort.
Hands on activities have changed our entire approach to learning.
Today, I want to share some of his favorites activities for reading practice, in the hopes they may help you and yours too!
Bubble Wrap Flash Cards
This is by far one of his favorites. It involves a piece of bubble wrap on the floor and flashcards placed in rows on top of it. He stomps on the card, once he has read the word, and the bubble wrap does what bubble wrap does. It satisfyingly pops.
In this activity, I mix a little bit of non-toxic dish soap with water, in a bowl. Then we head outside to the sidewalk, pour the mixture out, and practice writing his spelling words. This one is great because it is so easy to clean up. Just a little more water and it’s clean as a whistle.
Sight Word Twister
This one is so much fun, for both of us. Using the Twister Game Mat, I place flash cards with sight words in various circles. Then, as he plays the game, he reads the cards as his moves his hands and feet from one circle to the next.
Any time I introduce a new phonogram (i.e. -ck or -th), the very first thing we do is create the letters in Play-Doh. This serves two purposes. Number one, it keeps his hands busy and brain engaged, while I explain the sounds and their uses in language. And number two, it allows him to three dimensionally see the letters. This has been HUGE for us. For years, he struggled to understand the difference between ‘H’ and ‘I’. The reason is that when you write a capital ‘I’, it is with the line on the top and on the bottom. If you take that capital ‘I’ in written form, and turn it on its side, it becomes an ‘H’. To him, it was like taking a chair and putting it on its side, and then trying to tell him it was no longer a chair, but something new. But we have found that by forming the letters himself, he is able to more concretely see the difference.
The best part about these activities is that they are super simple and actually time savers! Because they require very little prep for me (and very little clean-up), and because he is engaged and excited to complete them, we actually spend less time on reading now (because we are not arguing and melting down over another worksheet or baby reader).
I use All About Reading and All About Spelling to guide me in teaching my son. I have found them to be the most flexible and user friendly – and I love that they were designed by a mom whose son struggled for years to learn to read! I highly, highly recommend this program for struggling readers, or readers that need a more unique approach.
These are my best tips for helping my struggling learner read. What are yours? Please share, or take a picture and tag me on Instagram @NotTheFormerThings.
This post is part of the iHomeschool Network’s Ultimate Guides Link-Up. Join me, and so many other homeschooling mom’s, as we share our best resources!