How To Support Dyslexic Students' Self-Confidence

dyslexia Aug 04, 2022

When we think of dyslexic students and struggling readers, we know that academic support is crucial to success. We understand that the science of reading and structured, systematic instruction is essential for students to achieve literacy success. 

We also know that struggling children may be surrounded by feelings of shame, unacceptance, anxiety, and low self-esteem. In fact, research shows that 29% of dyslexic students also have depression and/or anxiety, some of which is heightened by the expectations and struggles that come along with dyslexia. 

We all want our children to feel successful and confident and know the importance of looking at the other components that support student success. But it raises the question of how.

Support For Student Success

How do empathy and understanding of dyslexia support success and self-confidence? 

How does the environment support success? 

What role do mindset and metacognition play? 

How can we build self-advocacy...

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Why Repetition is Important in Reading Instruction

dyslexia reading Jul 22, 2022

The number of repetitions matter when planning reading instruction for the dyslexic learner, While some may believe that our lessons are filled with constant drilling of skills, this is not the case. Structured literacy is designed to weave in multiple practices within a lesson and review previously learned skills. 

I like to think of it this way: when athletes learn a new skill, they practice the movement repeatedly with the goal of perfection in mind. I was a competitive gymnast, and we would practice our routines to the point of automaticity so that when it was time to perform, it was automatic. It had been practiced over and over again. This repetition made the skills stick. A key thing to remember about repetition is that perfect practice is what makes perfect — not just practice. Performing tasks repetitively and correctly is what helps the skills learned from those tasks set in ("The Power of Repetition," 2016).

Learning happens in a very similar way. With...

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Why Use Audiobooks with Dyslexic Learners?

The topic of audiobooks comes up often and is an accommodation that I recommend for all of my students. Audiobooks have gained popularity among the general population, with 1.3 billion dollars in 2020. While audiobooks are an excellent tool for anyone, they provide additional benefits for those with dyslexia or other learning differences. We know the importance of becoming literate in our society, but how do audiobooks weigh into our children's reading goals? Let's dig into some of the benefits and possible obstacles.

Benefits of Audiobooks

Audiobooks provide access to grade-level and higher-level text

Why is this important? We need to provide students with the tools to access the curriculum. Audiobooks provide this bridge. Students are given audiobook access for curriculum reading for multiple reasons. 

Audiobooks level the playing field

Audiobooks are an accommodation that helps ensure our dyslexic learners can access the curriculum. It levels the playing field as students...

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Simple Ways to Build Fine Motor Skills with Children

While we think of handwriting skills in school-age children, early development plays a role in children gaining pencil control. There is so much we can do to build those early writing skills before children pick up a pencil! 

Developing large and fine motor skills is the basis for handwriting skills and the proper instruction. Often when working with older or early elementary students who struggle with handwriting, I will embed some work with fine motor skills. 

How Children Use A Pencil

To hold a pencil correctly, a child must have control of hand muscles, especially the pincer grasp. If you look closely at the grip this little two-year-old uses to hold her paintbrush, you can see her use of the pointer finger and her thumb (pincer grasp) to hold the brush. Her pincer grasp is developed enough for her to move toward the five-finger pencil grasp and eventually to the three-finger pencil grasp used for writing. It is important to note that there are stages of development...

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Why You Should Analyze Your ABC Chart

When we think of classrooms, we almost always envision an alphabet with pictures posted somewhere in the room. We may not realize that the keywords or images used in alphabet posters and books matter - a lot more than you may think! Many cute and colorful alphabet posters are available, and we may gravitate toward what is aesthetically pleasing, but these are not the best choices for our students and classrooms. 

Analyzing Our ABC Charts - Why It Matters

Reading is the ability to connect spoken sounds to their letter representations. We want students to elicit the smallest unit of spoken sound, or phoneme, in its purest form. For this reason, being mindful of keywords is essential. 

What does this mean? The ability to segment phonemes (sounds) into their smallest units and then blend those sounds into words is what is needed to read and spell. Keywords or pictures we choose to link to graphemes (letter/s) need to connect directly to the individual phoneme (sound). 


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Learning Through Sand Play


This is part 2 of the Learning At The Beach series. Click HERE to read part 1. 

We made it back home from our fun-filled week at the beach with buckets of shells and happy hearts. While it was a week full of fun, we also snuck in some learning. Last week, I shared how we played activities like "Beat the Wave" and "Sandy Sound Dictation." This week, I'm sharing some more activities that we played in the sand as part 2 of the mini-series, Learning at the beach. 

One of the powerful reminders for us as parents and educators is that it is possible to play with a purpose. Playful learning can set the stage for enjoyable interactions, reduce the stress sometimes associated with reading, and engage students in reading tasks while still focusing on a learning objective. Here are some additional games/activities that we played at the beach. Whether you are headed to the beach this summer or spending it at home or elsewhere, you can certainly bring these activities into your...

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Ways to Learn at the Beach


Each year to kick off summer break, I take my three little girls to the beach. They can spend hours playing in the waves and running along the sandy shores. This year they have tackled boogie-boarding, and I foresee some surf lessons in the future! 

As a mom and teacher, I am always looking to weave playful learning into our day. Our beach week is no exception! My girls love to play little reading games in the sand. I keep them short and sweet, which keeps them engaged and playful. We played so many different games that I may need to break it up into a 2-part blog post! 

Here are just a few of our favorites to play to review and practice some of our reading skills. 

  1. Letter writing in the sand. I have found that students of all ages love to play with sand. Sand provides kinesthetic practice for pre-writing letter formation and letter practice. The drag, or pull, in the sand helps build connections for the learner through what we refer to as multisensory practice...
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Teaching The Schwa Sound

fluency schwa May 26, 2022

I am heading off to the beach this week and looking forward to a "less stressed" and relaxing time. You may be asking, what does this have to do with reading instruction? 


The English language is stress-timed, and when spoken, there is a natural rhythm and fluidity that aids in comprehension, pronunciation, syntax, and expression. The impact of the stressed and unstressed syllables determines spoken sounds, especially vowels. 

Stressed And Unstressed Syllables

Before my therapist training, I had never thought about the impact of stressed and unstressed syllables on spelling, pronunciation, syntax, and meaning. I honestly didn't know that the English language is a stressed-time language or what that meant for instruction. Now, I see that explicitly teaching the concept of stressed and unstressed syllables to my students aids in their decoding, encoding, and comprehension.

A stressed syllable is the part of the word that receives a stronger syllable...

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Tips For Success: Movement and Short Vowels

vowels May 19, 2022

This week, I'm sharing a short video with quick tips for helping your students remember short vowel sounds.

Clearing Up Short Vowel Sounds with Movement Cues

If you work with early learners or dyslexic learners, you may need a great deal of practice with short vowel sound production. Many children will confuse vowel sounds in phonology work, reading, spelling, and sometimes running speech. This may occur for several different reasons. Some children may find sound discrimination tricky, and others may struggle with recalling the sounds when given a letter representation. Some students may also struggle with phonological processing, have speech sound errors, sound substitutions, omit sounds, add sounds, or distort sounds. If this is the case for your students, keep reading. This week, I'm sharing some tips for teaching short vowel sounds. 

Closed syllables, a syllable with one vowel followed by one or more consonants, make up almost half of all syllable types. When we can engage...

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How Does Scooping Phrases Help Fluency?

fluency scooping Apr 29, 2022

Recently, I've gotten a lot of questions about fluency and how to teach scooping. I made this video to help answer some of your questions and share a tip I have for building scooping skills. 

How To Build Fluency

There is also a past blog post, Building Fluency In Our Students, that you might want to read for more information about this. Find it HERE.

Need more support?

Please feel free to contact me or let me know what questions and topics you wish to have answered.

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