Reading Hope

All readers in a family are not the same… After a successful first grade reading launch with my oldest daughter, I vividly remember the painful struggle of my middle daughter’s twenty

My sparkly daughter Claire!

minutes of daily reading. By second grade, she was a master of avoidance, coming up with creative new ways to avert and prolong the challenging task. At the time, daily reading was a consistently frustrating parenting task. In hindsight, I now understand that processing the letters, words, and sentences on the page was just so hard for my joyful, smart, articulate seven year-old. The struggle was not her fault, just her reading challenge.

In early childhood, language literacy may be the most important skill a child practices. By the time children reach school age, it is expected that youngsters are ready to begin reading and writing. There is a difference, however, between receptive and expressive language, and the task of decoding abstract symbols into their appointed sounds. Most children need some explicit instruction to break the code of phonics, a key component to reading and spelling. In school, that instruction begins early and is built upon throughout elementary school. If a child is not developmentally ready to learn the skills being taught, or if a child is not picking up the information delivered to the whole group, he or she may begin to fall behind in the ability to process the classroom instruction. It is not uncommon for some individuals, like my daughter Claire, to need explicit individual or small group instruction. Claire, like many children, needed an opportunity for repetition in her learning, along with meaningful purposeful practice.

Early intervention has been shown to improve reading and self-esteem outcomes in children struggling to read proficiently. Using specific assessments to understand a child’s learning profile is the key to addressing gaps in understanding and skills. For certain individuals, reading and spelling acquisition is not picked up through experience or intuition, but rather through a progression of skills delivered in a systematic, multi-sensory format. In other words, reading and spelling takes more time on task and effort for some children than others. Further, it is quite common for smart, verbal children to struggle with the fussy task of reading.

If your child is struggling to meet the reading and literacy expectations placed upon them by our school system, please know that they (and you) are not alone. While it is still true that all children develop skills at different rates and ages, the benchmarks being used today are fairly rigid. Although nearly all early childhood educators understand that not all children develop at the same age or learn in the same way, the pressure of standards in education is felt by a majority of early elementary school teachers. This means that even though we, as teachers, know it is not developmentally possible for all of our kindergartners to learn the same number of words in a year, teachers and parents are being asked to strive for the named goal.

If you are concerned about your child’s pace of reading development, there is support available. In this age assessment, teachers and school staff often have systems for early reading support. There is strong research about what children who struggle with reading need in order to develop the necessary skills to become proficient readers. That said, schools often struggle to serve certain children. If you feel your child is not getting what they need at school, outside help is available. When choosing a program to support your child, check to make sure the program is using research-based methodology. The progression of skills being taught, as well as how the instruction is delivered are important to the quality of the program, and ultimately, how the pace of sustainable growth is measured.

Having taught children who struggled with reading, spelling, and writing for many years, I have had the privilege of watching those children grow into competent readers, spellers, and writers. More importantly, I have watched those amazing children who worked so hard to learn how to read, grow into outstanding adults who have much to contribute to their communities and professions. Looking back on those second grade evenings of reading homework, I never would have guessed that my daughter Claire would choose a career as a special education teacher to middle-schoolers who struggle with reading. Claire gives me great hope!


The Whole Brain Child

Review by Liz Huehnergarth

Kids frequently experience big feelings. Sometimes they really “flip their lids”, especially? when the homework gets hard and siblings get annoying. The Whole Brain Child? by Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson, gives parents practical strategies for helping kids integrate these big emotions with rational responses. Through story-telling, changing focus, and responding with empathy, parents can help their children recognize and move past challenging emotional situations. One of my favorite components of the book is the comic strip illustrations. The strips show everyday situations and how parents can use whole-brain strategies when responding to children. This book will help with strategies to meet your child in a healthy place when emotions run high!

Ready, Set, Summer!

Register for Sparkle Spot Summer Learning Camps Now

2019 Camp Overview

  • June 3- July 3: Student and parent assessment and goals meetings
  • June 24-28: Math Launch! (New)  Grades 1-6
  • July 8-12: Reading Grades 1-6
  • July 15-19: Reading Grades 1-6
  • July 22-26: Sparkle Kids! (New) Grades 1-6
  • July 29- August 2: Writing Composition Grades 3-8
  • August 5-9: Study Skills Grades 4-8
  • August 12-16: Literacy Review Grades 1-6

Click here for more information and camp descriptions.

Register Today!

New! Wednesday Multiplication Fact Club

Learn those pesky multiplication facts THIS summer!

  • 6 Wednesdays: July 17, 24, 31, August 7, 14, 21
  • Wednesday afternoons, 5:00-6:30
  • For kids entering grades 4-8
  • $300.00

Join us for our first ever Multiplication Math Fact Club. We will go through the math facts in a systematic way, using multi-sensory methods tricks and strategies, and building on our knowledge each week. The class will include full group activities and games as well as a chance for individual practice. This class is intended for kids who struggle with the multiplication facts, lack confidence, or need more practice to build fluency.

Register Now!

Spring Sparkle Girls! Group

Sparkle Girls! A Social Friendship Group

10 Thursdays, February 7 – May 9, 2019 (4:30-6:00)

Sparkle GirlsJoin us for our spring session of Sparkle Girls! A Social Friendship Group for girls in second through fifth grade. The weekly meetings provide exploration of how the brain works, social thinking, our strengths and challenges, feelings, emotional regulation, perspective taking, friendship, and complications of friendship, including the differences between rude, mean, and bullying behaviors. The structure of the class allows for lots of authentic conversation and practice working together in a safe, accepting group. Sign up for the fall session, the spring session or the full year. This year, the group will meet on Thursdays, 4:30-6:00. (Cost $400)