If you have a student that’s struggling with reading, the effects can be heartbreaking. You witness the child’s self-esteem diminish, you hear him acting out in class to avoid reading. As a reading interventionist, I’ve worked with many kids that struggle with learning to read and I wanted to create a site that teaches how to help a child struggling with reading.
When a student is struggling with reading, there are several steps you must take. Find out if the student is struggling with:
- letter sounds
- short vowel words (like hat, man, hen…etc.)
- consonant digraph words (like bath, ship, match…etc.)
- words with consonant blends (like track, drill, still, sand…etc.)
- silent e words (like make, bike, hope, woke, ripe, Pete…etc.)
- long vowel words (like mail, sneak, row…etc.)
- r-sound words (like park, clerk, dirt…etc.)
- ing/ed words (like timing, tipping, missed, saved…etc.)
- polysyllabic words (like comment, habit, potion, mumble…etc.)
Introduce sounds one at a time
Reading Elephant offers a systematic phonics book series that introduces sounds in the above order up to long vowels. Once you discover which word type your student struggles with, design lessons using interleaving: mix phonic sounds he knows with only ONE new sound.
For example, if he struggles with long vowels, introduce ee/ea only. Then proceed through all the long vowels one at a time. Our phonics book series can help you gradually proceed through each phonics sound. This is the essence of systematic instruction… the child learns one phonics sound at a time.
Does your student know letter sounds?
First, check to see if your student knows letter sounds. Not names. Sounds. Don’t assume you know how to teach letter sounds. I’ve seen many educators distort letter sounds. I distorted letter sounds until I recorded myself and heard my errors.
Teaching letter sounds correctly may not seem like a big deal. However, this site is designed to help struggling readers. To help a kid that struggles, you absolutely must learn the essentials of saying and teaching letter sounds.
If you want to learn how to help a child struggling with reading, take the time to read: best ways to teach alphabet recognition. Another post will help you avoid the common mistakes in teaching letter sounds.
Here’s a summary on how to teach letter sounds:
- Avoid teaching letter names.
- Teach 2-4 new letter sounds at a time.
- Always review old letter sounds, even if your student has mastered them.
- Hold continuous sounds. (ex. mmmm)
- Clip stop sounds. (ex. b__ don’t say buh)
- Start doing phonemic awareness activities immediately.
Make sure your student holds continuous sounds and clips stops sounds
Zachary was unable to recognize letter sounds when I first began working with him. He shrank away from the table, hoping he wouldn’t have to do a reading intervention, because reading to him had always meant failure. After following the principles laid out in best ways to teach alphabet recognition, Zachary knew all his letter sounds. Finally, he could read short vowel words like hat man, men, big…etc. He was ready for short vowel books.
Use systematic phonics instruction
After your student knows letter sounds, use systematic phonics instruction. This means you introduce one new phonics sound at a time. Also, you review old phonics sounds. The child learns incrementally. Sounds are taught explicitly, meaning the teacher explains each new phonics sound: “ex. /ee/ says ee as in tree.” The teacher then displays an ee flashcard and reviews the flashcard with all old sounds.
Drew wasn’t learning systematic phonics at school. He just so happened to be in the 30% of kids that are highly dependent on receiving research-based instruction. Therefore, he fell behind in reading. He struggled to read basic words like match, chop and ship. He needed to learn incrementally. His mom was worried about his self-esteem, as she said, “Drew told me, I must be dumb mom. I said no you’re not son. And he said, okay tell me why I can’t read then?”
Kids who struggle can learn to read successfully
After the first lesson, which was focused on the first consonant digraph /sh/, Drew read a phonics book accurately. He was so excited to read his first book that he asked, “When is the next lesson?” Kids are excited to learn to read when the method works! Struggling readers need incremental instruction with constant review.
If you want to learn how to help a child struggling with reading, selecting a systematic phonics curriculum is essential. The research is clear. About 30% of kids simply will not learn how to read without explicit, systematic phonics instruction. Many, many kids depend on receiving gradual instruction.
Reading Elephant phonics books
If you want to learn how to help a child struggling with reading, you can use our systematic phonics books to guide your pedagogy. Our books introduce phonics sounds gradually. Here is the order Reading Elephant uses:
Reading Elephant Book Sets 1-5- Short Vowels
a_ as in hat (use apple as a mnemonic)
i_ as in lit (use igloo as a mnemonic)
o_ as in hop (use ostrich as a mnemonic)
u_ as in cup (use up as a mnemonic)
e_ as in met (use elephant as a mnemonic)
Reading Elephant Book Set 6- Consonant Digraphs
sh as in ship
th as in math
th as in then
ch as in chop
_tch as in match
_ck as in back
_ng as in long
_ing as in king
_ang as in sang
wh_ as in when
Reading Elephant Book Set 7- Consonant Blends
Consonant blends- Consonant blends are 2 or more letter sounds in a row. Do not teach students to memorize blends. Teach them to decode blends sound-by-sound. Some samples include: fl as in flop, br as in brim and cl as in click. There are two exceptions. Teach kids to memorize tr as in truck and dr as in drop, as these two have a sound change.
Reading Elephant Book Set 8- Silent e
a_e as in make
e_e as in Pete
i_e as in kite
o_e as in hope
u_e as in use
u_e as in duke
Reading Elephant Book Set 9- Long Vowels
ee as in tree
ea as in seal
Reading Elephant Book Set 10- Long Vowels
ai as in rain
_ay as in bay
Reading Elephant Book Set 11- Long Vowels
oa as in boat
ow as in glow
Reading Elephant Book Set 12- Long Vowels
igh as in light
Reading Elephant Book Set 13- Long Vowels
_____y as in funny
_y as in my
Reading Elephant Book Set 14- oo/ew- coming soon
oo as in moon
oo as in look
ew as in new
Reading Elephant Book Set 15- r-sounds- currently not available
er as in clerk
ir as in bird
ur as in turn
ar as in dark
or as in fork
Reading Elephant Book Set 16- inflectional endings- currently not available
ing as in tipping (first vowel is short)
ing as in timing (first vowel is long)
ed as in missed (takes on t sound)
ed as in saved (takes on d sound)
ed as in rested (takes on id sound)
es as in saves
es as in matches
est as in fastest
Other vowel digraphs- At this point, your student can read many books that are not phonics-based. However, still teach using systematic instruction.
ow as in town
ou as in pouch
au as in launch
aw as in lawn
oi as in soil
_oy as in joy
c and g rule- At this point, your student can read many books that are not phonics-based. However, still teach using systematic instruction.
c (e, i, y) as in face, city and cycle (the c changes to the s sound)
g (e, i, y) as in gem, gist and gym (the g changes to the j sound)
If you’d like a printable PDF of the order in which Reading Elephant books introduce phonics sounds, click the following link:
Reading Elephant phonics book series
Would you like to purchase our books? If so, please check out our online shop of systematic printable phonics books.