NEW - Our Literacy Programs are now open virtually as part of our Home School Support Program. Contact us for more details!
For the majority of children, classroom-based literacy instruction will provide them with the necessary tools and knowledge to unlock essential reading skills and put them well on their way to a lifetime of learning from, connecting with, and sharing the written word. Unfortunately, approximately 13% of school-aged children will show a lag in the development of reading skills, placing them at-risk for later academic delays. The good news is that with appropriate support, many of these same children can narrow the gap and reduce their risk for later academic struggles. Speech-Language Pathologists are trained in literacy development and are able to support children of all ages to achieve their literacy milestones.
In order to support a child with a reading delay, we need to first understand where the difficulty lies. Following completion of an in-depth literacy assessment, your child will receive an individually designed program developed with both his/her literacy goals and learning-style in mind. Our literacy programming will then fall within one of four general levels:
Level 1: Building Foundations
At this level, students are working to develop their early phonological awareness skills. These foundational skills -- which relate to rhyme and syllable awareness, word shape understanding, and sound manipulation are considered critical to the advancement of reading. Gaps in early phonological awareness abilities often present later on as difficulty breaking words down to decode, blending sounds back together to form words, recognizing patterns to support more efficient reading, and developing important sound substitution and manipulation skills that will later help to solidify word-attack skills.
Level 2: Code-breakers
At this level, students are working to “break the code” by developing their sound-letter knowledge. As students learn to recognize individual, and then blended, consonant and vowel sounds, they will soon begin to recognize these sounds in words. At this point, students will begin to “sound out” words in text. Without reliable access to this sound-letter “code”, students will struggle to sound out words, will show gaps in their spelling skills, and will be very slow to decode new words. Breaking the “code” is a critical milestone in the development of solid reading skills.
Level 3: Reading for Comprehension
Having mastered sound-letter awareness, students at this level are working to develop reading decoding and fluency skills. As students become more efficient at recognizing or breaking down words, they are freeing up important cognitive resources to start understanding what they are reading. Important strategies are taught at this level to help students to become “questioning” readers, with a toolbox of solid comprehension-monitoring and inquiry-based strategies.
Level 4: Reading to Learn
At this level, students are building upon their reading comprehension skills, working to develop skills that will carry them through the upper years of education. As students advance academically, reading becomes increasingly important to accessing the curriculum. Students are now expected to infer information, draw connections, and assimilate information to advance their understanding on a variety of topics. Students are less likely to be directly told new information at this stage. Rather, the expectation is that students will use their solid reading skills to seek, pull, connect, and encode new information. Gaps at this stage will restrict what a student is able to pull from assigned readings and may lead to considerable gaps in his/her topic-related knowledge.
Our literacy programs run throughout the year, providing students with ongoing access to supportive literacy intervention. In the early years, our programming is based heavily in the principles of multi-sensory learning. With access to the “whole brain”, children are more likely to effectively process new information. When the “whole brain” is involved in learning, later access to that information becomes much more efficient. Our upper levels of intervention seek to address both literacy skills and help to build skill awareness to support self-advocacy. When ready, students are actively involved in the development of their literacy programming.