December 11, 2017

How to help a Dyslexic Learner: One Mom's Experience (Guest Post)

Hello readers!  Today I have a real treat for you, a guest post from Pamela Brookes at Dog on a Log Books.  She's a mom who shares her experience in learning how to help a child with a dyslexic learning style.  While her experience has been with dyslexia, some tips she shares can be used with any struggling reader.  

Welcome Pamela!

Before we started working with a reading specialist, I was despondent on how to help my daughter, Janelle learn to read. As a homeschooling mom I’d found it easy to teach my son reading. Because Janelle wanted to be just like her big brother she started doing phonics games just like him when she was 2. Normally I wouldn’t do phonics with such a young child, but that’s what she wanted so I let her watch Starfall. We also played with phonics tiles whenever she brought them to me. And I read to her, often hours a day, because that’s what she wanted to do. As she got older, her reading abilities never progressed.

Although I tried to find a reading specialist when she was 6, I just couldn’t find one. So we started doing the online reading program Mindplay. Janelle progressed with that program, but I wanted more help. Finally, when she was 8 she started working with a skilled specialist. Janelle’s reading advanced greatly and I learned so much about teaching children with dyslexia how to read.

One thing I discovered was there are almost no books written with an Orton Gillingham approach. This is the best method for dyslexic learners. I found a handful of out of print books with 8 sentences each. But once she memorized them I couldn’t find anything else to add to our collection. Plus she was almost 9 years old. She needed chapter books with bigger story lines. I found a few of those, but she read them and I struggled to find more. I was practically in tears because I could not find books for her to read. Then I had an epiphany. I’m a writer. I would write books for her.

I decided to release the books I wrote for her so other families could have Orton Gillingham based books for their kids. I have typically reading 9 and 10 year olds read the books to make sure the stories are engaging. This way any child learning to read will enjoy them, they’re not just for dyslexic learners.

A lot of families with struggling readers pull their kids out of school because the schools do not help their kids learn to read. Actually, a lot of times the schools give the kids such a bad complex that the kids are worse off than if they’d never gone to school. There are also families who don’t want, or are simply unable, to home school their kids who don’t feel their kids are being helped by their schools. They can feel just as lost as I once did. (This isn’t always true. Many struggling readers are given the instruction they need from their schools. Those families rarely turn to homeschooling so I don’t often meet them.)

I wanted to share the knowledge I’d gained with other families who are as despondent and lost as I’d been. I decided to write a booklet of the basic information that made all the difference to us. It is my hope that the booklet and all the links it includes will help show families with struggling readers what they can do and where they can turn for help.

One of the best skills my daughter has learned from her reading specialist is tapping. Here is the section about tapping from my book, Teaching A Struggling Reader: One Mom’s Experience.

Tapping (Sounding Out)

For sounding out words, we “tap.” Start with the index finger for the first sound and touch it to your thumb. The middle finger is for the second sound, so you tap your middle finger to your thumb, and so on. It’s more complicated for more complicated words, but that gives you an idea. It makes it multi-sensory as compared to just saying the sounds. Although I've been reading for several decades, I find this approach makes a lot of sense to my brain. When my daughter struggles with a word, I remind her to tap. It’s so much easier when she uses this strategy.

Teaching A Struggling Reader: One Mom’s Experience is available for free at many online retailers.  It can be found here on Amazon or here on TpT.

DOG ON A LOG Books are available in paperback with black and white illustrations. Ebooks with full color illustrations can be purchased from many online retailers. Buyers of paperback books purchased from amazon can receive a free full-color kindle version. They can be found here.

You can visit my website at

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