In the last three blogs I have shown you how to diagnose and remediate reading difficulties for your struggling readers in five basic areas. This week I will discuss a sixth area in which a reader may be having difficulty. The steps previously covered are:
1. Does your child know the consonant sounds?
2. Does your child know the vowel sounds?
3. Does your child decode words or sight read?
4. Can your student read words with blends?
5. Can your student read long vowel words?
If your child can easily read all of the types of words discussed in the previous three blogs in this series, you are ready to go on to the next step.
6. Does your child have difficulty reading digraphs?
Digraphs are combinations of letters that appear as a unit in words and have specific sound patterns. A few examples are: /oy/ in boy, /oi/ in spoil, /ay/ in stay, and /ai/ in sail. Some of them have more than one sound for the spelling pattern such as /ow/ in snow or in cow. There are also longer combinations such as /igh/ which makes the long i sound in words like sight, might, and tight.
The following word list can help you determine if this is the level at which you child needs help with reading. Can your child read each of these words easily and accurately without your help?
Spelling patterns should be taught individually and then students should read them in words. There are 70 sound-spelling patterns (including the letters of the alphabet) and this topic cannot be covered adequately in this blog. However, it is important that struggling readers learn to recognize each letter-sound combination as a unit so they will recognize them in words and be able to decode words accurately and efficiently.
If your child is struggling with reading at this level you need to use a good systematic synthetic phonics reading program such as Sound Bytes Reading that will make it easy for you to teach these concepts step-by-step at this level. This program includes a story with each sound-spelling pattern so students can practice reading the new words in context. This is the easiest way to fill in the gaps your student may have in advanced phonics skills at this level.
Next week, I will discuss the final step in diagnosing reading difficulty.