Updated: Sep 13
As a parent, I know getting help for your struggling reader can be very confusing. How do you determine who is able to help you? How can you figure out who is qualified to help with a struggling reader? Is anyone who has a degree in teaching qualified to teach reading to a child that is struggling. You may or may not know if your child has dyslexia. But you do know that learning to read seems harder for them than it should be. Who would be qualified to help you? Who can you ask for advice? Can you do it yourself? Do you want to do it yourself? Would you be interested in teaching reading to your own children? Or would you rather hire someone else to help you?
In this blog I am going to:
1. Talk about qualifications or certifications to look for in a reading tutor/teacher.
2. Give you ideas to use if you are a parent who is interested in doing the teaching yourself.
3. Let you know about a few things that are not likely to be very helpful for your struggling reader.
As I talked about in my last blog there is a big problem in education today with teacher training. Many teachers are not being taught effective strategies for teaching reading. I was one of those teachers. But I did not realize there was a problem until my own child had trouble learning to read. I thought that if a child in my classroom was not learning to read as well as the others it was not my fault. I would have said they just were not ready yet. Or I would have thought that the parents never read to them or helped them learn their alphabet.
I graduated with a Bachelor of Science(BS) in Elementary Education.
Most of the students in my classroom were learning to read.
I thought I was well qualified.
Reading was my favorite subject to teach.
I now realize that I did not know what I did not know.
That is why I am writing this to help parents determine who can help them.
If you are thinking of hiring someone to help your child become a better reader here are some things to look for.
This is a list of good certifications.
It is in no particular order, they are all wonderful.
Also, I am not claiming that this list is exhaustive.
Other people who do not have one of these certifications may also be qualified.
But make sure your tutor is trained in “Multisensory Structured Language Education”.
Here is my short list of good reading certifications:
#1) OG - Orton- Gillingham training/certification.
This is from the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators.
Anyone with this training is qualified to teach struggling readers.
#2. The Academic Language Therapy Association, or ALTA.
This is a credentialing organization for dyslexia professionals.
ALTA is also an organization that is able to lobby for changes in laws relating to Dyslexia.
Both OG and ALTA certifications require an extensive supervised practicum. This means a teacher must practice teaching students under supervision. After this, they are eligible to take the test for certification. This practicum is in addition to the classroom training. Training that includes a practicum is considered the very best training.
#3. CERI stands for Center for Effective Reading Instruction.
They are an affiliate of the International Dyslexia Association. And they issue certifications to teachers who have the knowledge and skill necessary to use Structured Literacy practices.
#4. Wilson Language program.
Laws are changing. Now many states require teachers to be trained in some type of "science of reading" instruction. Many school districts are training their teachers in the Wilson Language System.
If you are a parent that wants to teach reading yourself you can do this successfully. There are materials you can use without having to go back to school and become certified in education. You may want to do this if you are homeschooling. Or if your child is in school but struggling, you may want to be proactive. You will want to get your child the help that they need for becoming good readers as soon as possible. You might not want to wait to see what will happen in school.
Here are my recommendations for how you can help your child yourself.
#1. Barton Reading and Spelling System.
Susan Barton’s reading and spelling system is what I used when teaching my children to read. I was able to use it without going to expensive and time-consuming training. I really wanted to teach reading to my children myself and this fit into my schedule and budget and worked well. Susan Barton has recorded herself teaching you how to use her system to teach your children to read. Her Reading system is very scripted so that you just follow what is written there. And you will learn many things along with your child.
A secret fact:
The Barton system is the reason I know how to spell. Before using the Barton System my spelling was terrible even though I was a college graduate. I recommend it to anyone who wants to teach their own children to read. There are many tutors that you can hire who are using the Barton system if you do not want to do it yourself. (Currently, I am not using the Barton System but I do supplement with it.)
#2 All About Reading. I have not personally used All About Reading but I have heard many people talk highly of it. I believe it is a great choice for homeschoolers who have struggling readers.
#3. Working together with a tutor. Helping struggling readers become good readers takes a lot of time and personal attention.
If you either don’t want to do teach your child yourself or do not feel qualified you can hire a tutor to help you. Your child will make even more progress if you are able to sit with them during tutoring. You will see what they are learning. Soon you will be able to help them use the things they have learned during tutoring at other times. You can even ask the tutor if there are things they can give you to do together to practice every day. If you spend 15-20 minutes practicing what you have learned every day your child will make leaps and bounds in their progress. An added bonus is that doing this would shorten the time needed for tutoring. This would make tutoring cost less!
It is perfectly ok to hire someone to teach reading even if you are homeschooling. You are still homeschooling. Just like you are still homeschooling if you have someone else teach your child piano or guitar.
Here are some things that will not work.
#1. Giving your child phonics workbooks to do independently. This will not make them improve in reading. Children who are struggling to become readers really need explicit multisensory instruction. They need to go at their own individual pace with a trained teacher. Filling out workbooks will not do the trick.
#2. A program that claims to be able to Teach Your child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons will probably not work. This may be a great program to use with readers who don’t struggle. But for a child who struggles it will probably not be easy and it will most likely take much longer than 100 days.
Whatever you choose to do to help your child to become a good reader I just want to encourage you. You are your child’s advocate. You are the one who knows the struggles they are experiencing, and you need to make sure they become good readers. Do not leave it up to someone in the school that they go to. Do not wait while your child falls farther and farther behind the others in their class. Even if you are not a teacher and do not know how to teach reading there are many people who can help you. I hope this blog will be helpful to you as are helping your child become a great reader.
About once a month I write a new blog. Are you on the email list so you can be notified when they come out? If not and you would like to be sign up here.