Teaching a child to read and spell is not a “one size fits all” proposition. In this article, you will discover five ways to individualize instruction according to your child’s specific needs—making reading and spelling easier.
Maybe your children are polar opposites. One is a natural reader and speller, but the other really struggles.
Perhaps your first child needs a fast pace. He doesn’t require much review and once he learns a reading or spelling concept, he remembers it. But your second child needs constant review to keep moving forward. She needs a mastery-based program rather than a grade-level-based one.
Does this sound familiar? You’re not alone. Many parents are in the same situation, desperately trying to make one reading or spelling curriculum work for all their kids, despite very different learning needs. In cases like these, it becomes painfully obvious that in order to effectively teach both children, you need to be able to individualize their lessons.
All About Reading and All About Spelling were developed for families just like yours! When we created our programs, one of our most important “to dos” was to make sure the curriculum was easy to customize without requiring a lot of extra effort from the teacher. Are you curious how we did it?
Right from the start, we identified five features that would help parents easily adapt reading and spelling instruction to their child’s individual needs. A huge benefit of the All About Reading and All About Spelling programs is that each of these elements is built right into the curriculum. How can your child benefit from these features? Let’s take a look!
Use Scaffolding to Support Your Child’s Learning
If you’ve never heard of scaffolding as it relates to learning, please don’t skip this section, because scaffolding is really important.
Have you ever seen construction workers on the side of a building, perched high above the sidewalk? Scaffolding is the temporary framework that supports the workers, allowing them to work on parts of the building that they wouldn’t be able to reach otherwise.
In the learning process, scaffolding works in a similar way. Scaffolding creates the structure that allows children to gradually build toward higher levels of understanding and greater levels of independence in the learning process. Every child’s learning scaffolding is built to meet his or her individual needs…never too high and never too fast.
In All About Reading, scaffolding is provided in every lesson. For example:
Here are examples of how scaffolding is used in All About Spelling:
Then, just as scaffolding is eventually removed from a building, we gradually fade out this extra support until your student reaches the point where he no longer needs it.
Customize with a Multisensory Approach
When you teach with a multisensory approach, you aren’t “stuck” with just one way of teaching something. In a multisensory approach, every concept is taught through all three major pathways to the brain (sight, sound, and touch).
Interestingly, when children are taught using all three pathways to the brain—visual, auditory, and kinesthetic—they learn more than when they are taught through just one pathway.1 The more senses we involve, the more learning occurs. The best way to teach is to involve multiple pathways to the brain rather than target just one pathway.
You can learn more about our multisensory approach here.
Now let’s look at another great way to customize your child’s reading and spelling lessons.
Adapt “Review Time” to Your Child’s Needs
Review is another big area where you can customize your child’s instruction. Some kids need more review for information to stick, while others need much less. All About Reading and All About Spelling have seven review strategies built right into the lessons, and every one of them can be tailored to your child’s needs.
You can read about the seven ways we review to help information stick, but as an example, here is a quick demo showing how the Reading Review Box is used to customize your child’s review.
Tailor Instruction with Motivating Activities
Your child doesn’t need to be “bookish” to enjoy learning with our programs. The wide range of activities is motivating for many kids, making it easy to grab your child’s attention. Whether your child is an animal lover, digs race cars, or is into pirate stories and activities, there is something for everyone.
You can use your child’s unique interests to easily expand on the lessons, too! (“Let’s take out more lizard books from the library!” or “Let’s play that race car game again tomorrow with a different set of words!”)
Adopt a Pace that Works for Your Child
Does your child need a faster pace? No problem! Or do you need to slow down? You can do that, too!
Since our programs are mastery-based instead of grade-level-based, you are free to introduce new material at whatever pace is best for your child. Anna Gillingham, one of the founders of the Orton-Gillingham approach, put it this way: “Go as fast as you can, but as slow as you must.”
And that’s what it’s all about! Every child is different, and your curriculum should make it easy for you to meet your children’s individual learning needs…no matter how different they are!
How has homeschooling allowed you to individualize your child’s lessons? Please share in the comments below!