Many people think anyone qualified to tutor a child in reading can help a dyslexic child, however, this is a false belief. My son had a very difficult time with reading right from that first day of kindergarten. I noticed this very early as did his kindergarten teacher. I was told my son had “attention issues” and that he just needed some extra help with reading. I hired his kindergarten teacher to tutor him after school three nights a week for one hour. After a year of tutoring, having rarely missed a tutoring session, my son had made no progress in his reading skills, and he was falling further behind. It was so hard for me to understand because this was his classroom teacher and she had been in education for almost thirty years. She was loved and well respected by her peers, parents, and children alike.
Why was this tutoring so ineffective in helping my dyslexic child learn to read? I mean this women had a masters degree in early childhood education. The reason is because his teacher did not understand the critical element of tutoring a dyslexic child. Having my son copy his letters and practice reading was simply not enough.
A successful tutoring program for dyslexic children must be sequential, direct, individualized, and most of all: MULTI SENSORY. Direct, sequential individualized instruction means that the child is directly taught every letter and letter combinations in the English language directly, and explicitely using a multi sensory modality. For example, when a child is just beginning to learn to read we begin with the short vowel sounds and a few consonance. Typically at the beginning of a lesson, the child is shown flashcards and asked to make the letter in a bowel of sand while simultaneously making the sound. The tactile act of sounding out the letters while simultaneously drawing the letter allows the dyslexic child to begin to make the connection between a symbol and a sound. The child needs practice manipulating sounds and phonemes for the program to be effective. This multi-sensory, sequential framework is most often referred to as the Orton-Gingham method of reading instruction. If your child’s tutor does not use some form of Orton-Gingham tutoring your child is likely to benefit very little and will become increasingly frustrated.