Teach Your Kids With Learning Disabilities How Read With These Curriculum Choices
I think teaching a child to read is one of homeschooling's big rewards. Every child is different, and every child's reading ability is different as well. But I want to encourage you if you have been discouraged, feeling like your child will never learn to read, or if you are wracking your brain to find something that will work for your child. Sometimes the key to reading success is simply trying a different style of curriculum. You DO have what it takes to teach your kids with learning disabilities how to read!
In this episode, I ran through my top 5 favorite reading curriculums for special learners. Our family has tried several others over the years, and these are the 5 that we have seen the most success with. Yes, there are so many other options out there. But my hope is that if you are reading this (or listening on the podcast), that you will find one of these curriculums helpful to your child!
First, an Honorable Mention....
This program gets an honorable mention simply because I have not personally used it. But it came highly recommended by a Flamingo Feathers follower, so I grabbed a copy. Not only is it an inexpensive program, but it is also very simple. I think this curriculum would be really good for a child that needs a lot of repetition but can handle moving at a little bit faster speed.
As the name implies, it is a phonics based curriculum. And it definitely has no frills. So if you're looking for something that is reminiscent of old fashioned primer books with word drills, this could be a great fit. I think this would be a good book, too, for kids that can't handle visual distractions.
#5 Create Your Own
This is a great flexible option for your family. And it has definitely worked for a couple of my kids. This is the style we chose for our dyslexic children back before we discovered Orton-Gillingham (but I'm getting ahead of myself now.)
Some resources we used to create our own learn-to-read program included store bought worksheets and workbooks (Teachers Pay Teachers, and Super Teacher Worksheets are good online options). We also used learn-to-read style books such as the well known Bob Books.
Two of my favorite phone/tablet apps that I failed to mention on the podcast (bonus for you readers!) are Teach Your Monster To Read and Endless ABC. Endless ABC has been extremely helpful to teach letters and their sounds in a silly way that engages even my most stubborn learner.
Several years ago when I had a six year old who could not identify letters, an experienced homeschool mom recommended the Leapfrog video Letter Factory to us. Not only did my child finally learn his letters, but we have taught letters to several other kids with that video. Especially if your child learns well through song, give it a try!
#4 Beginning Steps to Reading by Eastern Mennonite Press
This curriculum makes it on my list again, because of simplicity. But also because it teaches phonics in several different modes. Children using this program will be listening to hear sounds, cutting and pasting together little projects that reinforce the phonics rules, and more. It has a lot of repetition, so it's really good for kids that need to have a lot of practice before a new skill becomes permanent.
It's not super visually engaging, which is why this is not higher up on my list. But as I mentioned in the episode, I am currently using this curriculum for my 5 year old, and I used it to teach two of my older kids how to read. Because it is a conservative Mennonite company, they do not have their own website, but I have I used this store to order my own books.
#3 Primary Arts of Language by IEW
Okay, using this curriculum was easily the most fun I've had teaching phonics!! With each new phonics sound that a child masters, they get new stickers to add to their farm scene, so it's kind of like a little reward.
Kids learn phonics skills by playing file folder games (the curriculum comes with instructions and supplies for each, and you can make them as simple or elaborate as you'd like.) I am a huge fan of file folder games. I have tubs of them! So this curriculum was so much fun! If you have a highly kinesthetic learner or a child that needs something visually appealing in order to engage with the material, this is the one for you. You can also buy the companion writing materials, although we did not use those because my child's writing skills were not to that level yet.
#2 Special Reads For Special Needs
This is a reading curriculum developed by educator Natalie Hale, especially for learners with Down syndrome and/or autism. I just love how much brain science went into creating this program! My son with Down syndrome is learning to read with these books, and he's having a great time because the books are high interest, and they are so silly! Silliness captures my stubborn boy's heart!
This program is sight word based, and in the companion book that comes with the package, you'll learn all about why it's a good idea to teach your child with Down syndrome or autism using sight words rather than phonics. I think one of my favorite things about this program--besides seeing my child light up because he just read a book!-is how Ms. Hale empowers parents with the "why" behind everything she does we the curriculum, so you can make your own books at home.
#1 All About Reading
This program has definitely earned the top spot in our family! I have a couple severely dyslexic children, and when they still weren't reading at 8 and 9 years old, that is when I started doing some research on dyslexia and how to teach kids to read. What I found was that an Orton-Gillingham approach to phonics and teaching individual phonemes (letter sounds), is so important with dyslexic learners.
Most Orton-Gillingham based curriculums, while definitely effective to teach your kids with learning disabilities how to read, are either super expensive or require special training. I loved that All About Reading is simple for a parent to use, is reasonably priced, and is just as effective! Every lesson is written out for the parent. While it is very hands on for the parent, everything you need is written out in the book, and therefore you can literally open the teacher guide and immediately go through the lesson without prep work.
My two sons who were really struggling have seen amazing gains in their reading and writing. We also use the companion All About Spelling to teach them how to spell better. I just can't say enough good things about this program. I know it's not one size fits all--no curriculum is--but if you have a child with dyslexia, difficulty mastering phonics, terrible spelling, auditory processing issues, etc, you've got to check this one out! Your child can take a placement test to see which level is right for them (the levels do not correspond to grade levels.)