PHONICS TALK: The Dorbooks Newsletter
Vol. 75 - February 2016
by Dolores G. Hiskes
COMMON ROADBLOCKS TO READING (PART 2)
Many phonics programs do teach letter/sound relationships, but then
move directly into reading whole words and stories. Some children
have no problem with that, but many others develop a roadblock.
They reverse letters in words, and even reverse words in sentences,
and cannot seem to move forward. Why?
ROADBLOCK #2: LETTER/WORD REVERSALS
Neurologists now know that early reversals are normal for many
beginning readers. Blending practice should be an integral part of
reading instruction, but is not often included. Blending prepares
students for reading just as crawling prepares us for walking.
This critical but frequently-overlooked step helps prevent or correct
letter and word reversals and develops strong eye muscles. It is
important to acquire this skill prior to reading real words, in order
to correct or prevent any tendency to reverse letters which might
only cement a bad habit.
Blending practice can be very cursory, or taught carefully in a
gradually progressive manner. What follows is my particular
recipe for reading that gets maximum results in the minimum
time with the least amount of effort:
(1) Blending practice should begin with two-letter syllables. It is
at this point that strong left-to-right tracking skills become solidified,
and it’s important to do so before reading real words to prevent or
For example, take *sa.* Say the sound of each letter of the syllable
separately, at first: *sss* *aaa.* Now say it again, this time blending
the two sounds together: *SSSSaaaa .* (Take a deep breath first!)
This simple but powerful exercise is essential.
(2) Reading should be gradually progressive. It’s too big of a jump
for many students to suddenly move from reading a single word
into reading whole stories. Would we expect someone just learning
how to play the piano to immediately play a sonata just because
they could play the scales?
Try reading one word such as *red,* then two-word phrases such
as *red hat,* and then three-word phrases such as *big red hat.*
It’s fun to make up your own! If your students enjoy it consider
getting *Reading Pathways,* a book filled with just this kind of
eye-tracking practice, but in the shape of pyramids. (Take a peek! http://www.dorbooks.com/pdfs/shortvowels.pdf)
IF REVERSALS PERSIST:
(1) Try some of the eye exercises shown in back of *Phonics
Pathways* (pages 251 and 252). They are the same ones given
to our son when he was young by an optometrist specializing
in vision therapy, and were very helpful indeed. (But they must
be practiced on a regular basis.)
(2) And do try *The Train Game* on pages 258-259. of *Phonics
Pathways.* Manipulatives like this can really help break
through this roadblock, because the student initiates and controls
the timing of the blending. The visual aspect of moving train cars
seems to be especially helpful. That's the critical part that makes
all the difference!
One reading specialist felt it actually rewired his students’ brain,
enabling him to read from left to right for the very first time!
(3) Finally, consider beginning every reading lesson by having
your student read aloud one of the simpler pyramid exercises in
*Reading Pathways.* It’s a powerful *warm-up* for the lesson,
much like stretching is before jogging.
Currently we are living in tough times, and all we can do is make
the best of it. We may not have come over on the same ship,
but we are all in the same boat.
Let us not bankrupt our todays by paying interest on the regrets
of yesterday and by borrowing in advance the trouble of tomorrow.
There is nothing we cannot live down, rise above, and overcome!
(There is a new video on my website that explains how I overcame
some of my own personal obstacles — if you like, you can see it at
www.dorbooks.com, click on *About Us.*)
With that thought and those good wishes, I leave you for now.
Peace be with you!
Blessings, Dolores : )
Copyright Dolores G. Hiskes 2016
May be reprinted in entirety with reference to author
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