THSC Review - August 2013 * Volume 17, Issue 3 - page 15

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Texas Home School Coalition Review
• 15
we could hold out confidently until he was nine,
when, of course, like his older brother, it would
all click in his head. However, when Seth reached
twelve and then thirteen and still was not reading,
we wondered when the “reading police” would
come and haul us away. We pursued many differ-
ent phonics curricula, tutoring, specialized thera-
py, brain training, nutritional issues, and anything
else we thought might be a piece in the puzzle to
unlock his ability to read. I think the key to find-
ing the pieces to his puzzle was that we diligently,
personally researched every option upon which
we came. Each “expert” would assure us that his
or her programwas the only key to Seth’s success
and that all the others were not worth consider-
ing. We refused to be loyal to any one program or
idea; our only loyalty was to whatever it took to
help Seth—and that worked.
Research has shown that what works for most
kids (nothing can work for everyone) who have
difficulty reading is an Orton-Gillingham-based
phonetic approach. This approach includes pho-
netic instruction as well as instruction in recog-
nition of high-use and phonetically irregular sight
words. Not everything calling itself “phonics”
meets those criteria. To simplify the process as
you are researching phonics curricula for your
family, look for certain buzzwords. “Orton-Gill-
ingham-based” means a proven methodology of
phonetic instruction that encompasses the fol-
lowing principles:
• Explicit or Direct Instruction (rules of how
to sound out words are explicitly taught,
not magically “discovered” on the part of
the student by exposure or taught only by
• Intensive Instruction (lots of practice in the
basic skills of sounding out; decoding)
• Systematic Instruction (step-by-step build-
ing of one rule upon another for decoding
words, as opposed to teaching rules as they
come up in whatever the student is reading)
• Multi-Sensory Instruction (engaging the
student’s body through touching, repeating
aloud, writing, manipulating three-dimen-
sional letters, etc.)
The program should also exercise fluency, vo-
cabulary, and comprehension. Simply sounding
out words is not reading.
Realize that for some children, reading will
come easily and they may practically teach them-
selves. However, knowing what I know now, my
recommendation is to choose the most thorough
program that meets the above criteria. Then sim-
ply move quickly through the areas in which your
child is demonstrating mastery of the concept. It
is not necessary to endlessly drill a concept your
child already knows, nor should you skip things
you assume your child knows. Present all the
material, and when your child shows he has mas-
tered it, move on. It may take two minutes, or it
may take two days. There is no need to purchase a program requiring extensive teacher training
in order to teach it to your children. There are clearly laid out, thorough programs readily avail-
able that give the parent explicit directions with no need for specialized training.
Throughout this journey of finding success in reading, we were reminded that each of our
kids is uniquely created by God for His specific purpose. We were reminded that it is God who
finishes the work He begins in us, and that it is all done in His perfect timing. God used each of
the avenues we pursued to add to Seth’s abilities, and they all came together—and are still
coming together—in His timing, to help Seth become a proficient reader.
The point in not giving up, especially as it relates to our sons and their academic progress, is
that the Enemy would like nothing more than to trap us into believing there is no hope. What
better way to handicap a generation of youngmen andwomen than to limit them in their ability and
desire to read—because ultimately, we read in order to learn what God speaks to us through
His Word.
Beverly Parrish is a long-time home schooling mom with a bunch of
great kids and a terrific husband. She loves to read and to help oth-
ers overcome reading challenges. She is also a licensed Davis Dyslexia
Correction facilitator. You can find her a
will be a featured speaker at the 2013 THSC Southwest Convention &
Family Conference in The Woodlands this August.
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