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Early Literacy for Struggling Readers

Michael Vergara Published: March 16, 2018

(The following was originally posted on www.austisticmama.com)

I’ve always been a reader. I went to Kindergarten already reading and fell in love with chapter books while most kids were working out their CVC words. Mr. C was just like me. He started reading at three and was reading chapters by 5. Of course, this was because I’m naturally so good at teaching reading, right? Wrong. See, then we had A-Man. Suddenly, I had a struggling reader and had no idea how to help him. Reading came so easy to me and his older brother that I was totally lost on how to actually slow down and teach the basics to a kid that just wasn’t getting it. Thankfully, we found this early literacy program for struggling readers that has made a world of difference!

Early Literacy Program for Struggling Readers

For the past several weeks we’ve been slowly working our way through MindPlay Literacy, an awesome online reading program. A-Man has made some huge improvements, especially in his phonemic awareness, and reading time has become much less of a struggle!

With MindPlay Literacy, kids are able to gain one grade level in reading after 20 hours of use. In order to guarantee that promise, it is important that learners use the program 30 minutes a day, five days a week. For our family, we were not able to use the program for this length of time because A-Man’s autism makes it near impossible to focus 30 minutes on any one task. That said, we’ve seen tons of progress already and I know that once we can get A-Man to spend the full amount of time he’ll see the full grade-level increase.

What is MindPlay Literacy?

MindPlay Literacy is a virtual reading coaching program that is tailored to each individual student’s needs. It begins with a universal screening test that helps you to see exactly where your child’s ability level is. This also shows where your child is most struggling and needs more help. Kids then work through lessons, games, and activities that teach phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, grammar, and comprehension. The lessons take 20-30 minutes, and after 20 hours working in the program, kids see a full grade-level increase.

How We Used MindPlay Literacy with Our Struggling Reader

We started with A-Man on the kindergarten level assessment. I’m going to be honest, we were off to a rough start. A-Man is still learning his basic computer skills (moving the mouse and clicking where he actually wants to click) and some of the skills were pretty advanced for his current reading level. So while it’s recommended that kids take the assessment 100% independently, we knew we had to accommodate for A-Man.

After the assessment, which took us a few days between the computer skills and helping A-Man understand the questions, we got into the actual lessons. Since some of these mirrored the assessment, A-Man was feeling much more confident in his abilities. We were able to get him to participate for a bit longer each time we brought up the website, and he started really understanding what they were asking him to do.

And I’ll just take a moment out to say how incredible that is. A-Man struggles with receptive language or understanding what people are asking of him. Now he can listen to the instructor for the lesson and actually understand, 100% independently, what they are asking him to do.

We’ve also seen a huge improvement in A-Man’s phonemic awareness. He’s been doing lessons that have him listening to words broken into sounds, and selecting which word is being sounded out. The instructor will say m/a/n, and A-Man has to find the picture that says man. We also appreciated that they stuck to one major sound at a time, to start it was “mmmmm”. A-Man had to select the words that started with or ended with “mmmmm”.

If A-Man got the answer wrong, they changed the approach and had him try again. I really loved that they didn’t just repeat the question because if he didn’t understand the first time, the same words aren’t going to help him the second time! If for whatever reason he got it wrong twice, they showed him the correct answer, why it was correct, and repeated the question again at a later time.

MindPlay Literacy is Perfect for Struggling Readers Who…

Want an independent reading program. Struggling readers that are tired of hearing their mom teach the same way over and over again will love this online approach. MindPlay teaches in different ways for different kids, and it gives mom a huge break from the frustration of teaching a struggling reader.

Are ready to do the program diligently. If a student can commit to 30 minutes a day, they can reach incredible new reading levels in record time. This approach really works best if you do it every day, so it’s perfect if you have a structured homeschool!

Need instant feedback. If you get the answer right, you’re instantly told and complimented by the instructor. If you get the answer wrong, the instructor explains the question in a new way and allows you to try again. You will know instantly if you’re getting it or still struggling, and if you’re still struggling you have plenty of chances to re-try.

How to Get MindPlay Literacy for Your Struggling Reader

You can start a 7 day free trial of MindPlay Literacy to see if it’s a great fit for your struggling reader before you commit to buying MindPlay. Overall I think it’s a fantastic program for struggling readers, so whether your child is autistic, dyslexic, or just struggling with reading I think it’s definitely worth a try! You can also connect with MindPlay on FacebookTwitterYouTube, and LinkedIn.

-Kaylene, www.austisticmama.com

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