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  • Becky McArthur, S-LP(C)

How Our Clients Become Stronger Readers

Updated: Aug 16

Skilled reading is a complex constellation of skills. And if your child is primarily memorizing words to learn to read, they're missing a lot of fundamental skills.


What makes We Communicate’s services different?


1) What We Look At


Most commonly families connect to us because they notice challenges in reading and/or writing (see a list of top reasons why families come to us at the end of this blog). Our services are unique because, as speech-language pathologists, our assessment considers:

  • Literacy (reading/writing)

  • Language (how a person understands and generates messages with meaning)

  • Speech (how a person sounds when speaking)

Why? These skills are very interconnected and therefore, if we do not support an area of challenge, we can’t make optimal gains.


Here is a visual representation of this called Scarborough's Reading Rope. You can see on the left-hand side the two major areas of language and word recognition (reading words). There are many skills that make up each strand. These two strands come together and weave together (practice and feedback) to lead to skilled reading. With challenges in either language comprehension or word recognition, we often see challenges with: (1) accurate and smooth reading, or (2) being able to understand what they read.


Language comprehension, skilled reading, word recognition

Although most families refer because they notice challenges with reading, about 50% of these children also have language challenges (see a list of things to watch for at the end of this blog).


We ensure that we assess and support speech and language and literacy. Our services are provided by speech-language pathologists, professionals who have extensive training in speech and language as part of our training.


2) How We Support


Once we've identified what area(s) a child has difficulty in, our team uses a structured literacy approach, an approach that is backed by research.


In a structured literacy approach, children get access to:

  • Individualized instruction in their areas of challenge - we meet a child where they are at whether they are in kindergarten, elementary school or high school!

  • Explicit instruction in those areas

  • Explicit, specific feedback when learning new information

  • Opportunities to practice skills in structured way

  • Instruction that follows a specific order of concepts which often build onto one another

We do not utilize the following:

  • Memorization of lists of highly frequent words (aka sight words)

  • Reading (and re-reading) of levelled readers towards memorization

  • Cues when reading such as: look at picture for clues, skip word and come back to it, try a word with the first sound that you see in the word

So where do I go from here?


It’s never too early to refer your child! Prevention (preschool) and early intervention (kindergarten-grade 1) have been shown to lead to best outcomes for children. Children who have previously had speech-language pathology services as toddlers or preschoolers are at higher risk for reading and writing challenges. No matter what age your child is, our team individualizes support to meet your child where they are and build foundational skills for future success!


It’s never too late to refer your child! Research shows us that even adults can make gains in their reading and writing when provided with high quality instruction. So if your child is having challenges, we can get supporting them for their future school years, post-secondary education and career.


Here are some of the top reasons parents share when they refer their child to our team:

  • Not reading at grade level

  • Forgetting sight words after having previously memorized them

  • Difficulty learning letters of alphabet and what sounds they make

  • Reading slowly

  • Avoiding reading

  • Difficulty with rhyming

  • Challenges with spelling words

  • Challenges with writing sentences or paragraphs

  • Currently or history of receiving reading support that incorporates: memorization of sight words, reading levelled readers, and cues when reading such as: look at picture for clues, skip word and come back to it, try a word with the first sound that you see in the word

Here are some things we seldom hear from parents before meeting their child but may also be a hint to seek an assessment with a speech-language pathologist:

  • Challenges pronouncing multi-syllabic words (e.g., basketball, remember, avocado)

  • Difficulty re-telling the events from a book or real-life event in an organized manner

  • Sound errors when speaking (e.g., ‘run’ sounds like ‘won’, ‘three’ sounds like ‘free’, ‘chips’ sounds like ‘tsips’)

  • Difficulty with past tense words (e.g., say ‘goed’ instead of ‘went’, say ‘passdid’ instead of ‘passed’)

  • Difficulty understanding and then using new or more complex vocabulary words (e.g., of course considering age expectations: remorseful, before/after, shrieking)

  • Using simple sentences when speaking

Feeling inspired and excited that you may have just found exactly what your child needs to become a stronger, more confident reader? Let's team up! Complete our quick online form today so we can get your child on a different path together.

We come to your home in:

Anywhere else in Ontario?

Kitchener-Waterloo & Cambridge

Brantford

Norfolk County

Haldimand County

We provide virtual services using the Zoom platform - we're so glad we can support more families through the computer!



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