If a child has heard a word and understands its meaning, they are more likely to be able to read that word when they encounter it in text. That’s why it’s important to develop oral language by reading and talking to your child. Watch this quick video for more information.
Sight words are the most frequently occurring words in text. Students need to be able to recognize these words instantly in order to read fluently. Until these words become automatic to beginning readers, they must either be memorized or decoded (sounded out).
Sight Word Facts
- Only 100 words account for approximately 50% of the words in print. These words include the, of, to, was, for and if.
- The most frequent 300 words make up 65% of all printed text.
- Students should know the most common 300 words by the 3rd grade.
Phonetic vs. Non-Phonetic Sight Words
Most sight word lists do not distinguish between phonetic and non-phonetic words. Students are required to memorize hundreds of sight words — even those that follow standard, decodable patterns. This can be overwhelming for any student, but it can be particularly daunting for a struggling reader or a student with dyslexia.
At Syllables and Kendore, we simplify things by dividing sight words into two categories: phonetic and non-phonetic. This dramatically lessens required memorization because students who have learned phonics rules can decode phonetic words efficiently and with ease.
For example, ‘that,’ ‘with,’ and ‘not’ are all phonetic sight words and can be decoded. Other words cannot be decoded or sounded out. Examples of non-phonetic sight words that require memorization include ‘of,’ ‘was,’ and ‘some.’ At Syllables and Kendore, we teach students to call these words Criminal Words because they break the rules! The color red is associated with memorization so that words can be easily discernable at the time of instruction. Students will come to know that there is something special about words written in red.
Some sight words must temporarily be treated as non-phonetic words requiring memorization until classroom instruction covers the rules they follow. For example, the word ‘have’ is phonetic and follows the rule that English words should not end in ‘v,’ therefore an ‘e’ is added. However, most students will need to memorize ‘have’ before the ‘v rule’ is introduced. As a result, ‘have’ is classified as a non-phonetic Criminal Word until that time. When the student learns the rule, they ‘release’ the Criminal from jail.
Cops & Criminals Sight Word Games
Students learn best when they are having fun and engaging their senses. Furthermore, knowledge is anchored into a student’s brain (and therefore remembered) through repetition. The Cops & Criminals card games feature several lively sight word games that students can play to learn and reinforce sight words. Of course, all of the games have a “Cops & Criminals” theme featuring line-ups and jail breaks. Kids are completely unaware that they are reinforcing dozens of sight words with every game!
Watch Kendore Executive Director demonstrate three sight word card games:
Workshop: Retention Prevention
Thursday, January 25th
7:00 – 8:30 pm
Syllables Learning Center
12755 Century Drive, Suite C
Alpharetta, GA 30009
Standardized testing season is about to begin. With the Georgia Milestones right around the corner, schools are already evaluating student progress and creating a short list of students at risk of being retained. If you are concerned about your child’s progress, now is the time to determine where your child stands and develop a plan. Waiting until standardized test results come in will not give you the time you need to reverse your child’s trajectory.
Communicate with your child’s teachers now about your concerns. Make conversations productive by being as specific as possible. Telling a teacher, “My child can’t seem to answer basic questions about what she’s just read,” or asking “Should it take her 45 minutes to complete her math homework?” will start a more productive dialog than simply asking, “How is my child doing?” Keep a notebook with a running list of questions and concerns that arise when your child is doing their homework or when papers come home from school. A positive, collaborative line of communication between you and your child’s teacher will help prevent any surprises from cropping up at the end of the school year.
If you would like more strategies to help your student, please join Syllables Executive Director Jennifer Hasser on the evening of January 25th for Retention Prevention: What You Need to Know Before Standardized Testing. The workshop is free, but please register.
To learn more about the impacts of retention, watch the short video below:
Bedtime reading is a treat for natural readers. But for kids with dyslexia or other learning issues, curling up with a good book at bedtime is not the best way to end the day. It is important not to pair frustration and struggle with the act of reading, and if your child is tired, they will become frustrated quickly. If you have a child who finds reading challenging, it’s time to rethink the bedtime routine!
Click on the video below for helpful suggestions.
Join Me on September 18th at 6:30 pm
A Message from Executive Director Jennifer Hasser
When your child struggles in school or is diagnosed with a learning disability, your role as a parent shifts. Suddenly you find yourself navigating complicated territory — struggling to become an expert in what’s wrong, and sorting through the confusing web of options to help your child. It’s overwhelming at best, but when you layer on worry and fear, it can be debilitating. Time and time again, I meet parents who are nearly paralyzed as they begin the process of getting their child the help they need.
As the captain of your child’s team, one of your most important jobs is to determine how best to work with your child’s teachers and school. The most successful parents I see are those who stay organized and manage to keep the process non-confrontational. They understand what the school can provide, and they know when they need to seek outside help.
Unfortunately, I also see parents who make costly missteps when working with teachers and administrators. Parents of children with learning issues do not have time to make mistakes.
Please join me on Tuesday, September 12th at 6:45 pm for a free workshop entitled, “Advocacy: Effectively Partnering with Your Child’s Teachers and School.” At the workshop, I will discuss five common mistakes I have seen parents make, and I will teach you how to avoid these pitfalls. Parents will leave the session with a better understanding of the IEP process and will be equipped to foster a constructive relationship with their child’s teachers and school.
This workshop is sponsored by the Georgia Branch of the International Dyslexia Association and Understood.org. Understood is a collaboration among nonprofit organizations with the express purpose of helping parents of children with learning and attention issues. Understood provides concrete, tangible tools and information, as well as access to experts who can help parents and children on their journey. Joseph Cortes of Understood will be at the workshop and will provide participants with a free (and very helpful) IEP Organizational Binder.
Advocacy: Effectively Partnering With Your Child’s Teachers and School
Tuesday, September 18th, 6:30
Mountain View Library
3320 Sandy Plains Rd, Marietta, GA 30066
Session is free, but please RSVP
Want to help make your child a stronger reader and a better critical thinker? Learn to ask the right questions.
When your child is reading (either alone or with you), engage in discussions that will stretch their imagination and inference skills. For instance, if your child is reading Harry Potter, you could ask them the following questions:
- Would you rather be a wizard or a muggle? Why?
- What do you think it would feel like to see Hogwarts for the first time? Describe what you see in your mind’s eye.
- If you could invent potions or spells, what would you create?
Books vs. Movies
Road Tripping this Summer?
10 ways to eliminate the “I’m Bored,” chorus from the backseat.
Whether you’re traveling cross country or logging time running errands around town, put your car time to good use this summer with these 10 fun road trip word games. Shhhh — don’t tell the kids that you are reinforcing language skills while they are having fun.
Let the kids write on the windows with dry erase markers. Older kids can play hangman and younger children can practice their name and alphabet. Make sure to have a roll of paper towels on hand!
2. License Plate News
Call out the letters on the license plate in front of you and have your kids develop a wacky newspaper headline using the letters as the start of each word. For instance, MEW could be “Man Eats Walrus,” and BDH could be “Boy Develops Hovercraft.” For younger kids, simply have them think of a word for each letter.
3. Chain ‘Em Up
No, we are not suggesting a new way to restrain your kids (hmmm…there’s a thought). Say a word and have your child repeat it slowly, emphasizing the ending sound. Ask your child to think of another word that begins with the ending sound of the first word. For instance, if you say “cat,” your child could say, “top.” Take turns…forming a chain of words. Note: use the words’ ending sounds, not their ending letters (so if someone says “happy,” the next word could be “eagle,” but NOT “yellow”).
4. ABC Scrapbook Page
While traveling home from vacation, have your children write the letters A – Z down the left hand side of a piece of notebook paper. Have them think of a word from your trip that starts with each letter. Be creative. For instance, a trip to Disney World might yield a list that starts like this, “Ariel, Belle, Carousel, Dad, Everybody was happy, Florida, and so on.” Your children may either write or illustrate their word if it is too difficult to spell. This idea was submitted by a parent who regularly plays this game with her kids and saves the results as a trip memento.
5. Mad LibsTM
Play Mad LibsTM with a twist! Buy a Mad LibsTM tablet, download the Mad LibsTM App, or download pages by searching the internet for “free Mad Libs printables.” Have an adult (non-driving, please!!) call out the word-type needed, but with an added twist. For instance, “I need a verb that starts with /p/,” or “Give me a three-syllable noun.”
For older kids with internet access: have your child Google the towns you pass through and ask them to find and read aloud three interesting facts about that town. If you are in no-man’s land, have them research your destination and tell you about some of the landmarks you will see there.
7. Story Building
Have one family member develop the first sentence of a story. Take turns adding a sentence. You won’t believe the plot twists that ensue!
Similar to Story Building, you will create a story one sentence at a time. However, the beginning word of each sentence must alternate between “unfortunately” and “fortunately.”
This is how your story might unfold: “Unfortunately, on the way to Grandma’s house, Mom took a wrong turn. Fortunately, the road led to an amusement park. Unfortunately, it was closed. Fortunately, the gate was unlocked. Unfortunately, a guard dog blocked the entrance.” And so on…
9. Grocery List
Build an imaginary grocery list one item at a time in alphabetical order. The trick is remembering each item on the list as it grows. For example, the first person might say, “I went to the grocery store and I bought artichokes.” The next person might say, “I went to the grocery store and I bought artichokes and Band-Aids.” Create any kind of list you want — items to take to the beach, things found in Aunt Betty’s house, etc.
Did you know listening to books can help build your children’s vocabulary and make them better readers?
Often there is more than one way to sound out a word. If your child has heard a wide variety of words in literature, she will be better able to access her decoding skills and read more fluently because it is easier to read words you have heard before. Audiobooks also improve listening comprehension. While traveling this summer, consider listening to audio books in the car instead of listening to the radio or watching a DVD. Follow along with the written book, or sit back and enjoy the scenery. Either way is beneficial.
Share Your Ideas
Have an idea of your own? Email us and we’ll include it in a future blog post!
You know the feeling.
If you are the parent of a student with reading challenges, you’ve been there.
You’ve held your child who sobs, “I’m dumb,” while you ache with frustration that the world can’t see the brilliance you know is there.
You’ve eagerly scanned the classroom bulletin board, then stopped in your tracks when you realize that the scruffy paper with the poor handwriting belongs to your child. Your heart has broken with the realization that your child feels this spotlight of shame every day.
You’ve grinned at the “helpful” moms who offer up suggestions while inside you want to scream.
You’ve endured conferences where you’ve been told to “work with your child at home,” as if more of what’s not working will somehow make a difference (or as if some negligence on your part caused the problem in the first place).
What if it didn’t have to be this way?
Imagine a world that looks like this:
Classroom teachers are given the tools and support to effectively teach all children to read.
Every student leaves the classroom each day feeling smart, empowered, and excited about school.
Children who learn differently never struggle and typical learners are able to soar.
Families do not have to choose between help for their child and basic necessities.
This is a realistic dream, and it’s the dream of Kendore Cares.
Kendore Cares is a new nonprofit organization that brings the strategies and curriculum of Syllables Learning Center into the classroom. It’s a proven system of reaching struggling readers before they struggle and of helping all children reach their fullest potential.
The consequences are too dire to ignore!
Reading forms the foundation for learning throughout life. Yet 15 to 20 percent of all school-aged children have reading problems, many of which go undiagnosed. We know that unaddressed reading issues result in dire consequences for individuals, families, and communities:
Children who cannot read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to drop out of school.
Two-thirds of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of fourth grade will end up in jail or on welfare.
Help us provide the solution.
Maybe this cause is personal to you – perhaps you are a parent who has agonized while your child has struggled. Maybe you’ve been able to get your child the help they need, but you realize that not all are so fortunate. Maybe you have thought time and time again, “there’s got to be a way to help my child at school in a classroom setting.” Perhaps you are not personally affected by reading struggles, but you are compelled by the stories or statistics of those who are.
We invite you to help. Please join us on March 3rd for our inaugural event, Gin&Phonics. You will learn more about Kendore Cares, and you will be given the opportunity to make a difference. You will also experience a lively evening of fun, food, and entertainment and you will leave feeling excited about the opportunities that await all children of Georgia.
It seems like just yesterday that we stored backpacks in coat closets and turned off our kids’ alarm clocks. Summer has flown by quickly — store shelves are now filled with shiny new school supplies and the back-to-school countdown has begun.
Anticipating the start of school can be stressful, particularly for children who have a hard time with new routines. But with a little advanced preparation now, you can make the back-to-school transition easier on your kids…and yourself!
Seven things you can do NOW to avoid back-to-school chaos
- Take some time to de-clutter your children’s bedrooms and closets. Less clutter means fewer distractions. This is not only helpful if your kids study in their rooms, but it also makes for easier morning routines. For younger children, hang clothing in closets (or group them in drawers) by outfit to simplify choices in the morning.
- Consider beating the rush and buying school supplies and clothes early. Most office supply stores already have weekly super-savers advertised in the Sunday newspaper supplement. If you are a savvy shopper, you can save money by working through the school list over time — buying the best deals each week.
- Designate and prepare a specific area of the house for your children to do homework. Prepare this area with supplies, good lighting and a clear workspace so that your children are excited to begin their homework routine. If your children study at the kitchen table or another multi-purpose space, find a box or bin (one for each child) for supplies and papers.
- Reduce the amount of television your children watch and increase the amount of reading they are doing. If your children are in middle or high school, make sure they have completed any required summer schoolwork. Help them develop a schedule for summer work if they tend to procrastinate.
- Plan now to complete any forms that require appointments or professional signatures (such as immunization records, notarized proof of residency, or sports forms).
- Re-establish bedtime and mealtime routines (especially breakfast) at least one week before school begins. You may have to do this gradually if your kids have been sleeping late!
- If you have an anxious child, schedule a few play-dates with classmates the week before school begins.
A little advanced preparation now will enable you to enjoy these last few weeks of summer while making a smooth back to school transition.
Why Do Children Experience b d Confusion?
To understand b d reversals, it helps to think about how we learn to label objects. When children are very young and beginning to acquire language, the first thing they learn is to associate names with objects. They learn that a ball is a ball, a cup is a cup, and so on. They also learn that no matter how they view an object, its name typically does not change — a cup is still a cup whether it’s on the table or upside down on the floor.
When we introduce letters to children, things get a bit more tricky. Thankfully, most letters look unique, making them easier to associate with their name. For instance, y, k, f, and e all look different. They can be identified even if they are viewed backward or on their side. This is not so for b and d. They are mirror images that look so similar that they are difficult to tell apart. Furthermore, if these tricky twins are flipped upside down, p and q become involved!
It is important to note that b d confusion is NOT a phonics issue — children do not say “mom and bab” instead of “mom and dad.” They are not confusing the sounds, they are visually confusing their symbols.
Most children under age seven make occasional b d reversals. This is not a concern and will correct itself over time. But children with learning issues, including dyslexia, can have b d confusion that persists past the age where children begin to accurately discriminate between b and d.
How to Correct b d Reversals
The most effective way to promote learning is through frequency, intensity, and duration. In other words, the best way to correct b d reversals is to spend time with b and d! Students should be taught correct mouth formation when each sound is made and they should be exposed to b d discrimination activities repeatedly over time. Kendore Learning’s dabboo hand tattoos intensely reinforce b d identification over a period of several days. To learn more b d reversal remedies and to learn a helpful b d fingerplay, watch the videos below.