I have a love hate relationship with routine. I love it because it makes my week easier and it means we are close to guaranteed to fitting in the things that are important for our family. I hate it because sometimes I I feel nearly trapped in it and I want to just break free from it and do what ever I feel like. The reality is that for us having a reading routine is one of the factors that is contributing to our sons success. At the start of 2015 he had the reading age of a 6 year old, he now is 8 and has the reading age of a 9 year old. I am so excited for him, and yes I still take photo’s when he curls up in his bed or on the couch and reads a chapter book, and gets totally lost in it. So I am afraid as much as sometimes I want to throw the routine away it is staying in our house.
Why is reading routine important for struggling readers?
- It guarantees you will fit in daily practice. It is hard to fit extra into a families busy day, so if you can find space to do it at the same time everyday it becomes a part of everyone’s routine.
- Repetition is one of the key strategies. Some struggling readers will need to do a task many more times than an average reader to remember it, especially if they have a weak working memory.
- Daily practice is essential for quick improvement and for most struggling readers they have to catch up before they can keep up.
When do you do daily reading practice?
My biggest tip is find a time that works for you that is based around your family life. For us we split ours up. Our weekly reading routine looks like this
Sunday 8am to 9am – Literacy tutorial.
Weekday – 7:00am to 7:30am daily practice, 5:30pm 10 minutes writing, 7pm quiet reading, I read aloud.
A lot of our routine is based around our family dynamic. Miss 3 loves to be a part of everything so trying to conduct a tutorial or daily practice with her buzzing around demanding attention can be a little tricky. So Sunday morning is a great time to get some devoted time to my boys and reading. Bonus for me hubby takes Miss 3 and does the shopping! Mornings for us are also good because hubby is home til 7:30am and can help out with Miss 3 (noticing a theme) and our whole household is up at 6am so we always have time in the mornings.
As mentioned Mr 8 is swinging from the top branch with his reading but it has taken a lot of focused work. We are now moving on to help him with spelling and writing so after bath/shower time I have introduced 10 minutes writing which is achievable for us all. Quiet reading and read aloud time is part of our bedtime routine.
Another strategy I have up my sleeve is busy boxes for Miss 3. I have a couple of boxes made up that are just for her. In them are some simple activities, toys and games that she never gets at any other time of the day. If hubby isn’t around when we are reading the busy boxes come out and they work a treat.
What do we do in daily practice?
Initially when we suspected Mr 8 was Dyslexic I spent a lot of time reading research and planning reading sessions. We needed to help him improve quickly so he wouldn’t get lost in the education system. Being up planning til 11pm at night was not sustainable for me so I started to look for a better way. During his assessment we were recommended a program called Cracking the ABC Code. For me it hit my top 5:
- based on research
- incorporated neurological and memory strategies
- phonics based
Unfortunately there were no accredited specialist literacy teachers accredited on the Sunshine Coast to deliver this program but as a teacher I could undertake the training. I must admit I wondered if as Mum I was the right person to tutor my son but it was our best option. It has been a great success. This is now program I use for all my specialist literacy teaching with students.
Sunday – we undertake a new unit from the program. Each tutorial is an intensive session at an instructional level. He is learning new knowledge.
Weekdays – we undertake the daily practice from the program, based on our Sunday session (no new stuff during the week) which incorporates a clapping rhythm, word list, comprehension, oral reading, syllabification and spelling. We also include sight words, words he has difficulty with from the current chapter book he is reading. All these activities are taught using multi-sensory activities and each day they are practiced in exactly the same format.
Writing – We have just started this and again I have opted to work with the programs Dr. Lillian Fawcett from Cracking the ABC Code has developed because we know they work for our son, they are structured and 10 minutes a day is easy to find.
You can find out more at www.crackingtheabccode.com
If you are just starting your journey on assisting you child with reading. Try to get a routine going. Start small and build a daily reader and sight words into a routine. Then once you have that running like clockwork, check in here and get more ideas for your reading routine.