Frequently Asked Questions

Questions?  Find the answers here.  Click on each question to read the answer.

I know my child is smart, but why can’t he learn to read?

The teaching of reading in most classrooms begins with letters and sounds. Some children are unable to “crack the code” of phonics or phonemic awareness because that system uses an auditory method. Some children who need a visual system continue to struggle. The struggle of reading is not related to children’s intelligence. Your child may be a visual learner or a multi-sensory learner and not an auditory learner.

Why can’t computer programs teach children to read?

Although classrooms have a variety of reading programs, including some computer programs that teach reading, these programs are still based on a philosophy that reading begins with learning letters and sounds and word pronunciation. Computer programs are arranged or organized to mirror teacher instruction so the results are the same. Some children need both: a different philosophy and a different system.

How is You Read different from current reading programs?

This philosophy is based on reading as a whole system. Both whole language and language experience have different philosophical views. Each looks at the whole of the process of reading and the children’s authentic lived experiences. Children learn words and concepts before they ever get to formal education. Whole language and language experience use the children’s experiences whereby they are not taught to read using a “skilled” system. When struggling children have a different system to learn to read, based more on reading as a whole and related to his/her experiences, they become successful readers.

Why is children’s language important to teach them to read?

Language is learned from infancy as children grow. Language is never taught. Children learn that words they hear can be repeated, imitated, and have meaning. Since children use all their senses, they watch and listen attentively not only to their parents, but to other people they encounter. Oral language is the beginning of children’s development. As children see things in their environment they touch and babble before they form words. But the learning process includes language as the basis for communication. Therefore, written language is used as another form of communication. Reading is the process of oral language written down. So the foundation for reading really begins with oral language development.

Why do children write before they read?

The theory behind writing first, originated from Dr. Roach Van Allen who stated“what you think you can say, what you say you can write, and what you write you can read.” The essence of reading is one’s thoughts written down.

How does writing a story teach reading?

Reading is actually a person’s thoughts written down. When children can read their own thoughts that are written down, they develop a sense of accomplishment. They learn that if they can read their own thoughts, they can read other people’s words. In context, many of their words are the same as others.

If children are reading their own stories, how does that help them comprehend?

Comprehension becomes an integrated part of the children’s own reading material. If they write what they know they can answer any kind of question about what they already know.  Children’s success at answering questions about their own lived experiences prepares them to answer questions on unfamiliar material.

Why do you use a dictated system for teaching reading?

Children learn that their words are the same as other people’s written word, and become familiar with the repetition of seeing words in the context of their own writing. Writing also helps their thoughts. The stories are dictated so there is no question of how to spell a word and how to write a grammatically correct sentence. Dictation is a model that the children learn to imitate.

Why is writing so important to the process of learning to read?

As we write, the “story” becomes sequential. Writing becomes a natural process for self expression. Once they can read their own work, they can read other people’s work. The written word in books is really the author’s thoughts. So if I teach children that their words can become written understandable material that they can read themselves, it builds upon their confidence to read other author’s work.

What are the signs of a reading disabled child?

Signs to look for are:

  • Isn’t interested in reading or listening to books read by parents or teachers
  • Has difficulty pronouncing words and gets frustrated when reading
  • Reverses letters (b for d) and reads words like, “was” for “saw”.
  • Doesn’t understand what s/he reads
  • Loses place when reading; has eye tracking difficulty
  • As the child reads s/he skips words or lines in the material
  • Has difficulty completing other academic assignments

What are 3 myths about Learning Disabled (LD) children and their ability to learn to read?

First, these children need to learn phonics in order to read. That is a myth because children learning to read already have knowledge of words and can comprehend material read to them. Using those factors can assist children in the reading process. Since children have different learning styles, it should be apparent that another approach or alternative to phonics can bring the same results in reading proficiency that happens with phonics.

Second, more time or an increase in reading time will teach them to read. That is a myth because most of the LD children need another approach not more time. More time, with continued failure for reading progress, doesn’t change the reading progress.

Third, doing the same thing over and over again won’t change the results. That is a myth because if the process has not worked, teaching the same way over and over again doesn’t change the results.

What are the 3 most important factors that people need to know about Learning Disabled (LD) children?

First, their passions drive them. If they are not interested they will not focus. So many children with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) are not really lacking attention, but are not interested in what they are learning.

Second, teachers and parents don’t give children with Learning Disabilities (LD) credit for their ability. These children have more ability, not less. They want to share their knowledge, but need a safe and open forum in which to do so. They can actually teach, if given the opportunity to share what they know.

Third, Learning Disabled (LD) children really have a desire to learn. They want to be recognized in an authentic sincere way that they are smart and can make a contribution.

What can we do as parents or teachers to help children with Learning Disabilities (LD), Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), or behavioral problems due to reading frustration succeed?

  • Give these children credit for their own personal knowledge.
  • Pay close attention to listening to them and have them contribute to their learning.
  • If children are included as volunteers for their classrooms and recognized for what they know, they may change their disruptive behavior and behave more positively. Every child wants to be acknowledged and recognized for what they know regardless of whether the information will help them complete standardized tests properly.
  • Find opportunities where the LD children can be leaders rather than disturbers. Have them be a subject resource for a class project or activity. Give them a responsibility to share their knowledge highlighting their subject matter expertise. Many Learning Disabled (LD) children have a solid knowledge of computers and games.

Why do children who read well have difficulty comprehending material?

Children who read well are probably just good word callers. They have a good command of phonics or phonemic awareness, but the children do not understand the meaning of the words. In order to comprehend material children need to know what the words they are pronouncing mean. Therefore, after they read the words in the text these children can’t answer comprehension questions.
To improve the children’s comprehension it is important to relate the words the children are learning to their personal experiences. The meaning of words is generally understood when children can relate to what the word means.

My child can’t comprehend what she reads, but has a good memory. What is her problem?

Reading comprehension doesn’t have anything to do with a child’s memory. When a child has difficulty answering questions about what she reads that usually means she is likely a “word caller” and has no knowledge of the meaning of the words.

What about skills? How do you teach reading skills?

Reading skills are taught integrated into the written stories. You Read is a comprehensive program whereby children learn new vocabulary words and practice spelling words. The new vocabulary is learned through the familiarity of the words the children use in their story. There is no teaching of letters and sounds or phonics and, the meanings of the new words are shared immediately.  Also children copy their story so that they become comfortable with the writing process. They are writing complete sentences and punctuating the sentences correctly.

If children read their own words, how do they learn new vocabulary?

You Read is based on children’s age-appropriate reading material. Therefore, when children use a word they are familiar with and can read, we work together to choose a synonym that is age-appropriate. They learn new words from the thesaurus that mean the same as the simple words that they use in their story. The objective is to introduce the children to new words, but maintain the integrity of the story they tell. At times the children will use a word and suggest we try and find a different word in the thesaurus because they want to learn new words.

How do you handle children with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) who can’t sit still enough to get enough reading skills?

Since You Read concentrates on personal stories children with ADD and ADHD stay focused because they are the center of attention. Since the mentor is focusing on the children and children know they have your 100% attention, there is an attitude change. Usually children with ADD want attention and they will try anything to get it. Authentic attention; changes children’s attitude when parents and teachers deliberately give one-on-one positive attention they crave.

Is the You Read program just for children?

No, an individual, either child or adult, can improve reading skills with the structure of You Read. Since the premise of the program is based on the children’s or adult’s personal stories, the reading program is not restricted to children. The actual skill development is based on age-appropriate information. Comprehension questions are derived from the content and topic and very specific to the person learning to read.