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Red Flags for Dyslexia

Dyslexia is the most common learning disability in the United States, impacting 20 percent of the country’s population. If a child is not diagnosed by the second grade, there is a significant chanceblog-dyslexia-main-landscape he or she will remain undiagnosed until they reach adulthood. By educating yourself on the red flags of this learning disability, you can avoid misconceptions as well as delayed identification of this disability. Early identification of any disorder correlates with improved outcome and prognosis.

Preschool-Aged Red Flags for Dyslexia:

Difficulties with phonemic awareness or the ability to identify and manipulate individual sounds in words are beginning signs that your child may have dyslexia. Examples of phonemic awareness skills are:

  • Segmenting syllables (e.g., “how many syllables do you hear in butterfly?”)
  • Rhyming (e.g., “which word rhymes with mat; star or hat”?)
  • Phoneme isolation (e.g., “in the word sun, is the /s/ at the beginning, middle or end of the word?”)
  • Sound deletion (e.g., “say cup without the /k/.”)

Other signs include:

  • Trouble reading single words
  • Trouble generating rhyming words or identifying which words don’t belong
  • Reversing letters and words (e.g., tab/bat)
  • Difficulty identifying sounds at the beginning or end of a word (e.g., “what word begins with /t/; toad or boat?”)

Elementary-Aged Red Flags for Dyslexia:

Once children enter elementary school, the expectations for reading and writing abilities increase significantly. Children not previously identified as being at-risk may begin to exhibit signs as school work becomes more challenging. These children often have average or above average IQ, but demonstrate below grade-level reading and writing abilities.

Red flags include:

  • Trouble sequencing (e.g., steps, alphabet, naming months)
  • Continued trouble with rhyming
  • Difficulty with word finding (e.g., relying on “stuff,” “things” or other generic words)
  • Difficulty with organization and studying
  • Trouble with story telling
  • Avoidance or dislike of reading

Should an individual demonstrate some of these signs, it is not necessarily indicative of dyslexia. Other reading or language disorders may play a factor. However, if these difficulties persist through childhood, it may negatively impact that child’s academic success.

Through early identification, children with dyslexia can begin treatment in phonics-based programs, such as Orton-Gillingham or Wilson. These programs are unique in that the relationships between sounds and letters are explicitly and systematically taught. With consistent treatment, children with dyslexia can learn to compensate for their disorder, as well as begin to enjoy reading and writing.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee! If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

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A Better Bedtime

Tips For A Better Bedtime

Bedtime can be a challenging time of the day for both parents and children. Specialists agree that children need steps each night that are predictable to help them transition into sleep. Nighttime routines ease the transition by making your child feel comfortable about what to expect at the end of each day. By setting a routine, parents can allow their children to respond to cues that will help them move from playtime to bedtime more smoothly. Setting a plan can help make evenings less stressful, for everyone!

Time to Wind Down

Routines for bedtime begin in the evening before your child’s head even touches the pillow. It is suggested that transitions to sleep are more difficult if the activities leading up to bedtime are high energy, such as running around or even watching TV shows or movies that are high action. Begin to lower your child’s activity level and prepare for relaxation through quiet play.

Create the Bedtime Plan

The idea is to have a bedtime routine that works best for your child. This routine will set the foundationbetter-bedtime of events that you and your child can consistently follow in the same order each evening. As your child grows, the actual routine is likely to change, but the basics will remain the same.

There is not one routine that is going to work for all children and families. Bedtime routines should be a combination of what is practical and personally preferred. So parents, keep this in mind and decide what is going to be best suited for your child. What matters most is that the routine is consistent.

Depending on your child’s age, verbal cues and reminders of steps might not be beneficial. The use of visual charts or checklists are suggested so children can see what is coming next. The process of creating a routine can be interactive and can provide an opportunity for your child to be involved in “owning” his/her bedtime. This also helps to instill a sense of responsibility in your child. The intention is that as children grow, they will be able to go through the checklist with less and less facilitation and be able to complete the bedtime routine on their own.

Again, there is not a one size fits all routine! Below are some suggestions of options to consider in the creation of your child’s bedtime routine.

Activities to Consider in a Bedtime Routine:

  • Cleaning up: Have your child put away toys or help clean up play areas from the day. This can help signal and provide a cue that playtime is over.
  • Snack: Depending on dinnertime or what parent’s prefer, a light snack and drink before bed can help satisfy nightly hunger.
  • Preparation for tomorrow: Part of the routine could include preparing for the next day. This could be setting out lunch box, picking out clothes, or gathering school materials. (This makes the morning run a little smoother too-BONUS!)
  • Bath time: A warm bath helps regulate your child’s temperature and can help signal relaxation to induce sleepiness.
  • Brushing Teeth: This is important for your child’s hygiene and can be another step in the ending the day process.
  • Pajamas: Having your child pick out the pajamas for the each night can be fun activity. However, parents should try to limit their child’s pajama options to two or three choices so that it does not become a daunting task.
  • Picking out books: Let your child choose a book or two, again establish the number of books they can choose so you can avoid the “ one more book please.”
  • Reading: Reading of books should be done in the child’s sleep environment
  • Bedtime yoga: There are benefits to nightly yoga for children. These relaxation stretches and movements help your child’s body wind down.
  • Quiet music: Music can be played while the child is going through other steps or can be played quietly as the child drifts off into sleep. Some children have difficulty falling asleep if it is too silent, quiet music can be a great way to provide some background noise and it is suggested that the music have no lyrics.
  • Picking favorite stuffed animal or doll: Your child may have a favorite teddy bear or doll they prefer, this can be comforting to have when falling asleep.

If parents take turns with bedtimes, they should have a similar style as to continue with the routine. While this does not mean parents need to follow identical scripts, response styles should be similar.  If you have more than one child, it is suggested that bedtimes be staggered in time. This way, each child can benefit from a calming story or goodnight cuddle. It might also be a good idea for parents to switch off in their roles in the bedtime routine, that way each parent will get some alone-time with each child before the day is over. Once in bed, keep the lights low. Saying “goodnight” should be short and could include talking about how the day went or what is going on tomorrow. Telling your child something he or she did during the day that you were pleased with will help to send your child off to sleep on a positive note!

Click here to learn about sleep disorders in children.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

reading with your preschooler

The Best Way To Read With Preschoolers

Reading is widely recognized as the ultimate language activity. Through reading a child encounters new vocabulary and language concepts. Not only does reading out loud with your preschoolers have positive benefits for their academic success, but it is a great way to build relationships with your child as well as help him or her develop a passion for reading.

Here are some suggestions to make reading with your preschooler a positive experience:

  1. Be enthusiastic! Children will follow your lead – if you are excited about the story they will beThe Best Way To Read With Your Preschooler too! Add your own emotion and twists into the pages of the book. Children love silly voices and it will only add to the enjoyment and entertainment of the book.
  2. Get the child involved in reading. Have children interact with the books; he or she can hold the book, turn the pages or point along with the words. Allowing the child to have a role in the reading experience will reinforce pre-reading skills, such as book orientation, reading progression from left to right and the significance of written word.
  3. Ask open-ended questions. Books are not only meant to be a receptive language activity, but also an expressive language task. Asking open-ended questions will help the child interact more with the story. Open-ended questions are unique in that it allows children to generate their own thoughts and answers. For example, “what do you think will happen?” or “how is he feeling?”. Try to stay away from yes-no questions or questions with one word answers.
  4. Do carry-over activities. The story within the book doesn’t have to end when the book is done. Have the child draw a picture of their favorite character or you can even act out his or her favorite scene. Your child could also retell the story in his or her own words. These activities will continue to reinforce the child’s love for reading as well as any concepts/vocabulary that he interacted with during the story line.

Here are some suggestions for books to read out loud with your preschooler:

  1. Pete the Cat books
  2. The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
  3. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.
  4. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff
  5. Corduroy by Don Freeman
  6. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Click here for more tips on how to sneak in reading practice.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

untreated dyslexia

What Happens When Dyslexia Goes Untreated

Language-based learning difficulties can affect up to 20% of the population, with dyslexia being the most common type. People with dyslexia often have difficulty translating ideas into written language and likely have trouble decoding (understanding) written language.

Research has shown that most children who struggle with reading in 3rd grade remainWhat Happens When Dyslexia Goes Untreated poor readers even in high school. This suggests that early intervention, as with all aspects of childhood language difficulties, is key. If these children receive intervention before the critical “learning to read” period (kindergarten through 3rd grade) changes to “reading to learn” in fourth grade, they are more likely to become successful readers.

Common Characteristics of Untreated Dyslexia:

  • Difficulty with planning and organizing, often spending more time on homework than necessary
  • Trouble with storytelling or finding the “right” words when writing or speaking
  • Avoidance of reading, reading below grade level
  • Difficulty with saying the alphabet, naming letters, and numerous spelling errors
  • Trouble with language comprehension and some difficulty with spoken language
  • Difficulty decoding (reading) words and sentences, slow when writing and reading

These characteristics highlight the importance of intervention. Due to the broad-reaching grasp that dyslexia can have on a child’s academic performance, intervening before the critical period ends (kindergarten through third grade) is imperative. Children struggling with dyslexia often have average intelligence, so parents may not realize that an underlying disorder is to blame for trouble at school. When a gap exists between a child’s performance and their overall potential, dyslexia may be the reason.

Children can be evaluated for reading disorders by neuropsychologists, school psychologists, and some reading specialists. If ongoing therapy is warranted, parents may choose to seek out the assistance of a licensed speech-language pathologist, as dyslexia is a language disorder impacting the reading/writing/spoken language realms.

Click here to learn more about our Orton-Gillingham Reading Center.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

back to school reading prep

Back to School Reading Prep

 

While it’s hard to believe that summer is already on its way out, many of you have probably been thinking about the new school year for some time now. As a parent, you want to be sure that your child retains skills from the previous school year and continues to progress during the summer. Being a good reader will positively affect all school subjects and is the basis for many facets of learning. As children progress in school they switch from learning to read, to reading to learn. If your child is behind in reading, this will greatly affect how and what they learn in other subject areas.

What are the best ways to prepare your child for reading in the new school year?

  1. Encourage reading: No matter what your end-of-summer activities are, find time to squeeze inBack to School Reading Prep some reading. Reading should always be a priority! Making crafts along with books is a great way to make reading more fun.
  1. Make it a routine: Have reading be a part of your daily routine to set an expectation for reading frequency. Children are more likely to read if they are exposed to books and reading on a consistent basis.
  1. Discuss vocabulary: Talk about words found in books, use the words in different ways, and give examples of what the word means. If a child understands what a word means, she is more likely to use it!
  1. Ask questions: Listen to your child read and ask questions about what they read and what is happening in the story. Ask why things happen and prompt your child to predict what is going to happen next.
  1. Use comprehension checkpoints: After your child reads a paragraph of a story or a page in a book, ask her what happened and ensure she understood what she just read.
  1. Be a good model: Monkey see, monkey do. If your child sees you reading, she will want to read too! Model a positive and encouraging attitude when it comes to reading.

Follow the above tips to set your child off on the right track for the new school year!

Click here for more tips on how to sneak in reading practice.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

sneaking in reading practice

5 Ways to Sneak Reading Practice into Your Child’s Day

Fitting in reading practice into a child’s daily routine is often a re-occurring battle between parents and their children. This may be due to several reasons; it may be a challenging and therefore not enjoyable task for a child or there may be the distractions from activities that are much more appealing than reading. Continued exposure to literacy and reading is important, especially throughout the summer months. If a child continues to put up high resistance to traditional reading activities, try to “sneak” in reading into fun activities. Luckily, literacy is all around us and can easily be camouflaged into fun.

5 Ways to Sneak Reading Practice Into Your Child’s Day:

  1. Cooking: Invite your children to bake or cook a recipe with you. Children love to be involved and givenHow to Sneak Reading into Your Child's Day responsibilities. Have their “job” be to read the recipe to get the ingredients and tell you what is next. Children will also learn the importance of paying attention to details, as recipes rely on the completion of specific directions. Try to find a recipe that can be tailored to your child’s skill level. The recipe can be as simple or complex as you would like; even making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches can be made into a reading activity. You can also adapt a recipe to include different verbs or new vocabulary.
  2. Jokes: What child doesn’t love a good laugh? Reading jokes is a great way to add direct fun to a reading activity. Children jokes can be found on the internet, in a joke book or even on a popsicle stick! A child can practice reading a joke several times, and then perform it for another caregiver or adult later in the day. Not only is a child practicing his literacy skills, but he is also gaining exposure to figurative language.
  3. Road Trip Games: The summer season often comes with long road trips. It is easy to use electronics to occupy your child’s attention during these long hours. However, a great way to continue to improve your child’s literacy skills is to play the traditional Alphabet Game! Have your child look for the letters of the alphabet in the signs and words that you drive past. This is good practice with alphabetical order, identifying letters and reading single words. This game can be adapted to be a team effort or a race.
  4. Play teacher: Use the natural dynamic between older and younger siblings as an opportunity to get in some reading practice. Talk with your child about playing teacher with his younger sibling. The older brother or sister can read a story to his or her younger sibling, teach a specific letter or even write a short story. This is a fun way for kids to feel successful with reading, especially when they get to “teach” the younger brother or sister.
  5. Put on a Play: This is a great activity if you have multiple children that can participate. Find a free children’s drama script online or buy a book of children dramas. Children love using their imagination and also getting an audience’s attention. Practice reading the scripts before the performance to highlight any words they may not know and introduce them to new vocabulary.

If these suggestions don’t necessarily fit in with your child’s personality or family routine, get creative with your own daily routine. You can write up a schedule for your child’s day, having them read it at breakfast, or write out the directions of a craft for your child to complete. Remember the goal should be to create a motivating and fun activity for your child to gain additional practice and exposure to literacy.

Click here for more tips on how to get your child interested in reading.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

phonemic awareness skills

Phonemic Awareness Skills

Phonemic awareness is a building block for literacy. Phonemic awareness, or a child’s ability to manipulate sounds to change word meaning, make new words, or even segment and then blend sounds together to make words, are all important skills when children are learning to read. Parents can practice the skills below with their children, adding onto previous knowledge while increasing complexity. As with any skills, it is important that children have a strong phonemic awareness foundation to aid in reading and ultimately writing, too!

Building Phonemic Awareness Skills By Age:

Age Skills Acquired During Year
3 years ·         Begin to familiarize children with nursery rhymes·         Stress alliteration (e.g., “big boat” or “many mumbling mice”)

·         Identify words that rhyme (e.g., snake/cake)

4 years ·         Child can begin to segment sentences into words·         Children start to break down multisyllabic words (e.g., “El-i-an-a”)

·         Children generate rhyming words

5 years ·         Notes words that do not rhyme within a given group·         Blends sounds together
6 years ·         Blends sounds together to create words (e.g., /p/ /a/ /t/, pat)·         Segments sounds to identify parts of words

·         Enjoys creating multiple rhymes

7 years ·         Begins to spell phonetically·         Counts sounds in words
8 years ·         Moves sounds to create new words (e.g., “tar” turns to “art”)

 

The above ages highlight typical skill mastery. As with most skills, there are varying ranges of development. Parents should incorporate phonemic awareness activities into usual book reading, and have fun talking about sounds and words!

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NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Reference: Goldsworthy (2003); Justice (2006); Naremore, Densmore, & Harman (2001).

 

child hates to read

Help! My Child Hates to Read

Reading homework and practice is a constant throughout a child’s educational career from the very beginning when a child is learning to read. Children need to practice reading for a variety of reasons, mainly to improve their own literacy skills, but also to be introduced to new vocabulary and concepts. Obviously, reading practice is important, but it is not always the easiest activity to complete in a child’s day, especially if he or she does not enjoy reading. Try these strategies to improving a child’s motivation to participate in reading activities.

Inspire your child to read with these tips:

  1. Let your child choose what he or she reads: If a child is not interested in reading a certainHelp! My Child Hates to Read book or story, it will only add to the negativity surrounding reading. Take your child to the library and give him or her the opportunity to explore various topics and pick something he or she is interested in. With added interest, comes increased motivation, which will ultimately lead to a more positive reading experience.
  1. EBooks: Try downloading a book on yours or the child’s iPad or computer. With the added flare of electronics, a child may be more motivated to complete his or her reading practice. Be sure to set boundaries with the child that no other activities or games should be completed on the iPad/computer during reading time.
  1. Family Reading Time: It can be difficult to get a child to separate him or herself from the rest of the family and afternoon activities to complete reading. Instead of having an individual expectation for one child, have the entire family sit down for their own respected reading time. This will help your child not feel so left out or discouraged when they are to complete their reading, instead it will be a family activity.
  1. Incentive Chart: Incentive charts work as a great motivational tool by giving the child something to work towards. Give your child a goal (e.g., 10 starts). You child can work towards that goal each time they complete their reading. Once the child earns the goal, they can then receive a motivating reward (e.g., getting a slurpee, a trip to the movie theater, etc.)
  1. Talk with your child: Have a discussion with your child about why he or she hates reading. It may be because it is hard for them. Be knowledgeable of the warning signs for a reading disorder, as your child may require additional support in this area. See the list of warning signs below and consult with your child’s teacher to get a better understanding for your child’s reading abilities:

Warning Signs of a Reading Disorder:

  • Dislike or avoidance of reading
  • Not understanding that words can be segmented (e.g., “cowboy” broken down is “cow” and “boy”).
  • Trouble with sound-letter relationships
  • Difficulty sounding out words
  • Difficulty understanding written and spoken language
  • Difficulty rhyming

Click here for more tips on how to get your child interested in reading.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

raising a reader

Raising A Reader

Are you looking for ways to encourage a love of reading in your child?  Starting at an early age is important, but it is never too late to get your child more interested in books.  Here are a few tips to get your child to love books and to raise a reader.

Tips to Raise a Reader: raising a reader

  1. Make reading together a daily habit. Set aside time every day where you and your child read together.  Your child will look forward to this time spent together with mom or dad’s undivided attention and the opportunity to share a special story.  As they get older, you can still do this but have your child select a book to read on their own and then talk to them about what they read.
  2. Be a model. Have your child see you reading books of your own. Children who see their parents reading are more likely to be interested in reading themselves.  So grab a book and teach them by doing!
  3. Make regular trips to the library. Get your child excited about books with a trip to the library.  Seeing all of the different choices available to them and colorful cover pages will have them reaching for multiple books.  Since there is a time limit on checking out books, they will be motivated to read each one and then exchange for new titles.
  4. Designate a reading area in the home that is free from other distractions. Make a comfortable spot that is used for reading and does not compete with other activities.  If we create spaces that are associated with specific tasks, we are more likely to continue to engage in them.
  5. Put their accomplishments in a visual format. Create a reading graph of all the books that a child reads.  Children love to see their accomplishments and making a reading graph is something to be proud of!

Click here to read Books By The Ages: Reading Fun For All.

NSPT offers reading and tutoring services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

dyslexia signs and symptoms

Dyslexia: Signs and Symptoms

Dyslexia is commonly thought of as letter reversals (e.g., substituting b/d or p/q) and letter inversions (e.g., substituting b/p or d/q). However, that is not the case for all people. Individuals with dyslexia tend to have a much broader range of symptoms, many of which are not typically associated with the disorder. Symptoms of dyslexia may manifest more as a general language disorder, notably as difficulty with the acquisition and use of language, both spoken and written. Language-based learning difficulties can affect up to 20% of the population, with dyslexia being the most common type. The symptoms below are not an exhaustive list, rather they most commonly occur with dyslexia.

Symptoms of Dyslexia:

General Signs: Typical to most with dyslexia, individuals tend to have difficulty with the alphabetic principle, ordyslexia signs and symptoms the predictable association between sounds and letters (e.g., if you hear a “j” sound at the end of the word it is usually “-ge” or “-dge”, as words don’t usually end in “-j”). Individuals with dyslexia may also have trouble with memorization of letters and numbers, and will have trouble with reading and spelling. Learning foreign languages will likely be challenging, as well.

Preschool-Aged Signs: Most preschool-aged children exhibiting signs of dyslexia will have difficulty with phonemic awareness, or the ability to identify and manipulate individual sounds in words (e.g., “what is ‘bug’ without the /b/”). Other signs include:

  • Trouble reading single words
  • Trouble generating rhyming words or identifying which words don’t belong
  • Reversing letters and words (e.g., tab/bat)
  • Difficulty segmenting words (e.g., “clap the syllables in ‘ice cream’”)

Elementary-Aged Signs: Once children enter elementary school, the demands for reading and writing become greater. Children not previously identified as being at-risk may begin to exhibit signs as school work becomes more challenging. These children often have average or above average IQ, but demonstrate below grade-level reading and writing abilities. Other signs include:

  • Trouble sequencing (e.g., steps, alphabet, naming months)
  • Continued trouble with rhyming
  • Difficulty with word finding (e.g., relying on “stuff,” “things” or other generic words)
  • Difficulty with organization and studying
  • Trouble with story telling
  • Avoidance or dislike of reading

Should an individual demonstrate some of these signs, it is not necessarily indicative of dyslexia. Other reading or language disorders may play a factor. However, if these difficulties persist through childhood and beyond, children may have difficulty with success in school. Phonics-based programs, like Orton-Gillingham or Wilson, explicitly target the relationship between sounds and letters. These programs, rooted in the alphabetic principle, systematically introduce the rule of language to help children who are struggling.

Click here to learn more about our Orton-Gillingham Reading Center.