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There are many teaching methods that can help struggling readers. The best ones for kids with dyslexia tend to use the Orton–Gillingham approach. But teachers and specialists may use other methods to supplement their main instruction. Learn about some popular programs.

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Many experts consider Orton–Gillingham the “gold standard” for teaching reading to students with dyslexia. It focuses at the word level by teaching the connections between letters and sounds. The program also uses a multisensory approach. It taps into sight, sound, movement and touch to strengthen learning and memory. Students learn the rules and patterns behind why and how letters make the sounds they do. Orton–Gillingham is the basis for a number of other reading programs, which are sometimes also called structured literacy or structured language programs.

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Reading Mastery

Teachers use Reading Mastery to teach the “system” of reading. In grades K–3, children learn Reading Mastery Classic. Reading Mastery Plus is taught in grades K–6. The program begins by teaching word sounds and what the corresponding letters and words look like. The program then teaches children to read passages. Later they increase their vocabulary while increasing understanding of what they read. Students are grouped by similar reading level.

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Read Naturally

Read Naturally is an add-on program that aims to improve reading fluency and understanding. It’s taught from elementary school to adulthood. The program uses texts, audio CDs, and computer software. Usually students listen to a story and then read the same text aloud. The program tracks progress carefully. Students work at their own reading level and move through the program at their own rate. Usually they work independently.

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READ 180

READ 180 is for struggling readers in grades 3–12. READ 180 uses activities such as teacher instruction, working on a computer, listening to someone read aloud and then reading the same text, and reading alone. The program includes workbooks, books for reading alone, audiobooks for listening to reading, and software that tracks student progress.

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Project Read

Project Read is used in a classroom or group. The program emphasizes instruction by the teacher. Lessons move from letter-sounds to words, sentences and stories. Project Read has three strands: listening, understanding and writing. All three strands are taught at all grade levels, though the emphasis differs by grade.

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Voyager Passport

Voyager Passport is an add-on reading program for grades K–5. The small group program includes letter-sound understanding, sight words and vocabulary. Voyager Passport Reading Journeys is for teenagers who struggle with reading. The program is taught in a group using science and social studies topics. The Voyager Universal Literacy System is a K–3 curriculum that includes a struggling reader program.

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Read, Write and Type!

Read, Write and Type! Learning System is a software program to teach beginning reading skills, emphasizing writing. The program was developed for 6- to 9-year-olds who are beginning to read, and for struggling students. The main goal is to help students become aware of the 40 English phonemes, or word sounds, and to associate each with a finger stroke on the keyboard.

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LANGUAGE! is for struggling learners in grades 3–12 who score below the 40th percentile on standardized tests. The curriculum uses a six-step lesson format. During a daily lesson, students work on word-sound awareness; spelling; vocabulary; grammar; listening and reading; and writing.

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Reading Recovery

Reading Recovery is a short-term tutoring program for struggling first-graders. The program aims to develop reading and writing by tailoring lessons to each student. Tutors are specially trained in Reading Recovery and teach students in daily pull-out sessions over 12–20 weeks.

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Read Well

Read Well is for kindergarten and first-grade students. The program teaches word-sound awareness, vocabulary and comprehension. Teachers begin by presenting models, and then gradually decrease their support before students are asked to complete the skill by themselves. The program combines class activities with small group lessons.

Teachers working with students on computers in a classroom
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Fast ForWord Language and Literacy Programs

These computer-based programs focus on the connection between spoken language and written words. They’re built on the theory that improving basic thinking skills can help kids master reading. Those skills include memory, processing speed and attention. The programs provide specific exercises to build skills. But the impact they report to have on the skills isn’t widely accepted. Nor is the impact on reading.

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7 Ways to Improve Vocabulary

There’s a strong link between understanding words and understanding what you read. Children with learning and attention issues do better when they spend more time learning words. Here are some teaching methods to improve your child’s vocabulary.

7 Ways to Improve Reading Fluency

Reading fluency is the ability to read quickly, accurately and with the right expression. Fluent readers understand what they read. Here are some strategies that can help your child become a better reader.

About the Author

Ginny Osewalt

Ginny Osewalt

Ginny Osewalt is a public school teacher in New Jersey, where she is certified both in elementary education and in special education.

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