Make Significant Strides With Summer Tutoring

During the school year, students squeeze tutoring into a schedule packed with school, sports, homework, and other after school commitments. Summer frees up not only time, but also brain bandwidth — making summer tutoring at Syllables extremely productive.

Don’t miss the chance to help fill in any learning gaps and prepare your child to succeed next school year!

How Syllables Can Help

  • Intensive Tutoring:  Speed up your time with us by increasing tutoring frequency or scheduling two-hour sessions. Students who complete “intensive summer tutoring” make remarkable strides and dramatically shorten the time they need to spend with us during the school year. Because our therapists are experts at keeping students engaged and active, double sessions are extremely productive.
  • Math: If your child comes to Syllables for reading tutoring but also struggles in math, consider adding math to their Syllables summer tutoring menu. Our Orton-Gillingham math program breaks down math in a new way — giving your child the tools they need to finally “get it.” Math tutoring is available for students in grades K through 5.
  • Cogmed Working Memory Training: Did you know that it is possible to actually change the existing pathways of students’ brains to boost working memory and improve learning skills for a lifetime? Summer is the ideal time to complete Cogmed Working Memory Training, which requires several blocks of time per week. Learn More.
  • Brush-Up for Syllables Alumni: If your child has graduated from Syllables’ reading program, they are welcome to come in for a free retest. We will determine if your child has retained their skills and kept up with their peers. If we see any deficits, summer is a good time to fill in gaps.
  • Study Skills: Did you know that we are experts in teaching kids study skills? Summer tutoring is an excellent way to develop these skills without the pressure of daily schoolwork. Learn More
  • Work at Home: Parents who work with their child at home decrease their child’s time at Syllables. Make sure to complete the practice your therapist recommends between sessions. You can also visit our YouTube channel to watch demonstrations of games you can play and activities you can do at home.
  • Attend a Training Session: Parents are welcome to attend our teacher training sessions (offered through our sister company, Kendore Learning). You’ll learn our proven method of teaching reading and you will leave prepared to help your child at home more than you ever thought possible! Parents of currently-enrolled Syllables students receive 40% off of Kendore Kingdom training.  View Our Training Schedule
  • Sibling Screenings: Dyslexia and other learning disabilities run in families. If you are concerned about your Syllables student’s sibling(s), bring them in for a complimentary one-hour reading assessment. If there is an issue, we can help you make a plan.

Not sure how to structure your child’s summer at Syllables? Give us a call at 770-752-1724. We are experts at assessing students and helping you make the most of your child’s time with us.

GURRRRRR! R-Controlled Vowels

The letter ‘r’ becomes very bossy when it follows a vowel! ‘R’ affects the sound a vowel makes, giving a vowel followed by an ‘r’ the name “r-controlled vowel.”

Tricky R-Controlled Vowels: ‘er,’ ‘ur,’ and ‘ir’

Growing r tiger helps teach r-controlled vowels.In the Kendore Kingdom, we call these three r-controlled vowels “growling r” vowels because rather than letting the vowel say its sound or name, the ‘r’ makes the vowel growl like a tiger.  Growling r vowels are vowel digraphs since they are two letters representing one sound.

Since ‘er,’ ‘ur,’ and ‘ir’ all sound the same, spelling these digraphs can be tricky. It helps to know that ‘er’ is the most common spelling (40%), ‘ur’ is the second most common (26%), and ‘ir’ is the least common (13%). When all else fails and the student does not know the proper spelling, knowing frequency will help students make an educated spelling guess.

‘ar’ and ‘or’

While ‘r’ still controls the sound of ‘ar’ and ‘or,’ these r-controlled vowels have unique sounds — making them easier for children to spell.

Teaching R-Controlled Vowels

The Kendore Kingdom features a memorable story about Growling ‘r’ tiger.  Poor Growling ‘r’ hasn’t learned his manners and he growls when introduced to new friends. Children remember the adventures of Growling ‘r’ tiger and translate this story into an understanding of r-controlled vowels. If you are a Kendore-trained teacher, be sure to refer to your manual for instructions on using Growling ‘r’ tiger to teach your students r-controlled vowels.

When writing/spelling a word with an r-controlled vowel, students will often incorrectly reverse the ‘r’ and the vowel. In many words, reversing the two letters will still produce a real word (barn/bran, arm/ram). Dot and Jot (phoneme/grapheme mapping) can help students prevent these transpositions.

Tiger Trek Card Game

Tiger Trek card games are a fun, multisensory way to reinforce r-controlled vowels. Tiger Trek can be used to play many games, including war, rummy, memory, go fish and more! The Tiger Trek deck contains both real and nonsense words in order to assess concept knowledge and discourage rote memorization. Students should be able to decode nonsense words such as ‘fram’ and ‘terk’ as well as real words.

Watch a demonstration of Tiger Trek games.

Order a Tiger Trek card deck.



Make Your Child a Stronger Reader

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

Make your child a stronger reader - book before movie.When a book is also a movie, encourage your child to read the book first.  If your child has not seen the movie, their imagination will create their own visual. Once the movie has been seen, the mind’s eye can only conjure scenes from the movie.
If your child is a reluctant reader, you can use movies as a reading incentive: “Once you’re done reading Harry Potter, we are going to have a movie marathon.” Then, ask your child questions about how the movie compared to the “movie” they had already directed in their imagination.

Ten Fun (and Educational) Road Trip Word Games

Road Tripping this Summer?

10 ways to eliminate the “I’m Bored,” chorus from the backseat.

Ten Fun (and Educational) Road Trip Word Games

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.

1. Graffiti

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

Ten Fun (and Educational) Road Trip Word GamesWhile 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.”

6. Travelogue

Ten Fun (and Educational) Road Trip Word GamesFor 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!

8. Unfortunately/Fortunately

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.

10.  Audiobooks

Ten Fun (and Educational) Road Trip Word GamesDid 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!

Kendore Cares: A Nonprofit Foundation With a Mission to Help All Read

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.

Gin&Phonics InvitationWe 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.

Learn More About Gin&Phonics

Learn More About Kendore Cares

Back to School Tips

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

  1. 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.
  2. Back to School TipsConsider 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Plan now to complete any forms that require appointments or professional signatures (such as immunization records, notarized proof of residency, or sports forms).
  6. 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!
  7. 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.

Learning Hard and Soft C and G Rules

Mastering hard and soft c and g rules is an advanced skill that yields significant rewards. Beginning readers frequently encounter hard c and g sounds as they learn single syllable words (for example: cat, cloud, go, and glow). However, soft c and g are often found in Greek and Latin roots so they tend to appear in more complex, multi-syllabic words. Understanding how to decode c and g enables students to read very complex words (for example: biological and circumspect).

Hard and Soft C and G Rules

When c is in front of an i, y, or e, it is soft and says /s/. For example: city, cycle, and race.
When c is in front of any other letter, it is hard and says /k/. For example: camera, car, and cone.
When g is in front of an i, y, or e, it is soft and says /j/. For example: giant, gypsy, and gem.
When g is in front of any other letter, it says /g/. For example: go, gave, and gravel.

There are some common sight words that don’t follow the rules (for example: girl and gift). This is why we teach hard and soft c and g rules to older students, who already have good mastery over basic sight words and phonics concepts. These students can handle the additional layer of hard and soft c and g rules.

Giant vs. Cyclops: Hard and Soft C and G Games

Our Giant vs. Cyclops card deck gives students a fun way to practice applying hard and soft c and g rules. The game comes complete with instructions for playing six games of varying difficulty. To ensure mastery, the deck contains real and nonsense words (nonsense words force players to decode rather than memorize). Click below for a video demonstration of two fun Giant vs. Cyclops card games.

Order Giant vs. Cyclops — on sale through 8/31/2015.

Jennifer Hasser demonstrates games that teach hard and soft c and g rules.

Meet Artist Meghan Ambrose

Artist Meghan Ambrose of Inklings and HuesWe are proud to feature work by artist Meghan Ambrose in Syllables’ lobbies.  Meghan has been a member of the Syllables family for nearly ten years – serving as a tutor, associate director, and in her current capacity as graphic designer. Meghan is the creative force behind the art found on Kendore Learning card decks and curriculum materials.

Meghan’s journey with dyslexia began long before her affiliation with Syllables. As a child, Meghan worked harder in school than other students, yet she often was labeled “unmotivated” and “lazy.”  This continued through her freshman year of college, where once again Meghan worked harder than her peers but still struggled academically.

Notes Meghan, “A children’s literature class my sophomore year was my turning point. I was asked to read aloud to the class, something I had always dreaded. After class, the professor pulled me aside and asked if I had ever been diagnosed with dyslexia.” Subsequent testing revealed that Meghan was “profoundly dyslexic” and that it was remarkable that she had achieved so much without remediation or accommodations.

Artist Meghan Ambrose of Inklings and Hues

Meghan displays her art at local festivals and on her Etsy site.

Always a gifted artist, Meghan changed her major to art and began to excel.  She transferred to the Atlanta College of Art, where she graduated third in her class. Meghan also pursued training in dyslexia remediation and became a reading tutor at Syllables.  “I knew I wanted to help kids like me,” Meghan reflects. “I would tell students that I understood their struggles and I explained how Syllables would make a difference.”

Today, Meghan combines her artistic talents with the love of teaching she developed at Syllables. When she is not at home with her son Gabriel or designing art for Syllables, she is busy teaching art to children and adults.  Meghan sells her art at local festivals and on her etsy shop, Inklings And Hues. She is also available for commissioned work. Contact Meghan at

Home by Inklings and Hues artist Meghan Ambrose

Chicadee and Baby by artist Meghan Ambrose of Inklings and Hues





Ooey, Gooey Multisensory Fun!

Brain Freeze is one of our favorite tools for multisensory fun. This ooey, gooey gel keeps students engaged and actively learning as they practice sound and word dictation.

A cup of water transforms Brain Freeze from tiny crystals to squishy gel. After a day or two, the crystals dry up and can be reconstituted or stored for later.

Watch Syllables Learning Center/Kendore Learning Executive Director Jennifer Hasser demonstrate Brain Freeze.

 Watch Brain Freeze Multisensory Fun DemonstrationBuy Brain Freeze


Teachers’ Corner: What Should I Do if My Students Have Poor Phonological Memory?

What is Phonological Memory?

Weak Phonological Memory leads to frustration in the classroom.Phonological memory is the ability to hold information (numbers, sounds, words) in working or short-term memory for temporary storage. Students must be able to hold information long enough to process it, use it, and then transfer it to long-term memory.

Why Poor Phonological Memory is a Problem

Poor phonological memory can hinder a student’s ability to accomplish most tasks including:

  • mastering early reading skills
  • learning new vocabulary words
  • comprehending new and lengthy material
  • following multi-step directions

For example, when decoding an unfamiliar but lengthy word, a student must figure out each sound and then each syllable. The student must recall these word components in exact sequence, and finally, blend them back together.  The longer the word, the more parts there are to remember. Children often have to rehearse each syllable first until they know it well enough to blend all of the syllables together to complete the entire word.

If a child with poor phonological memory is hearing new words as someone is talking, the speaker may be well into the rest of the message while the child is stuck making sense of the new word.  Or, the child may miss the new word as he or she tries to keep up with the story/message. Either way, vocabulary development is at risk.

How to Help a Child with Poor Phonological Memory

Helping a child with weak phonological memory to be successful in the classroom requires us to be mindful of the following:

  • how much information we deliver at one time
  • what senses we engage when delivering and reinforcing information
  • how often we repeat key ideas

C.A.R.S.:  Remember this mnemonic and your students will be off and running!

CARS -- A Phonological Memory Reminder.Chunk Information into smaller parts for mental storage.  Only introduce one or two concepts at a time and pause strategically when talking.

Allow for Success by teaching, modeling and practicing (and practicing some more!). Practice skills in different contexts to reinforce.

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat!  Restate key elements or new information in various ways.  Have students repeat back to you.  Use purposeful pausing as you repeat.

Sensory: make lessons multisensory!  Children with poor auditory memories need to SEE, ACT OUT, and FEEL the lesson in order to understand better. Their weakest mode of learning is by sitting and listening.