I recently attended a course on dyslexia and reading difficulties which was organised by the SESS (Special Education Support Service).
This course gave us an insight into the lives of children with dyslexia and reading difficulties and also identified some strategies that could be used both in class and in a learning support setting.
There were lots of key points for infants teachers that could be implemented in the infant classes. They could also be used as assessment and indicators for children that may have a difficulty.
Phonemic Awareness was a key component of the course. It is important to engage the children in rhymes and rhyming activities in the early days of Junior Infants. Often the traditional nursery rhymes can be overlooked in the infant classroom, however the awareness and recognition of rhyme is a key part of phonemic awareness.
Sequencing activities are also really important both in the early stages of Junior Infants and throughout the infant classes. The Prim-Ed books for sequencing were recommended by other teachers at the course. These books encourage the child to start with basic sequencing of before and after, first and last and introduce first, next and last. These books are also great to introduce sequential language in a variety of ways. A review of the series of books will follow soon.
Once formal phonics are introduced it is important to discuss sounds at the beginning and ending of words. Children may not be able to distinguish the sounds at the end of words, similarly they may not hear that particular sound. If children do present with difficulties in this area it may be worth noting it on their assessment file for future observations.
Children may need to over learn sight words, I like to use probe cards in my class where we focus on 5 words and the children recite them at speed. The same 5 words are used throughout the probe card encouraging the child to become over familiar with the words. I have sets of Probe cards on my Mash.ie store.
At this stage of the year I like to use the assessment from the Hands on Phonics book from Educate.ie. This test can be used a number of times in the year and can be used in classes from Junior Infants to 2nd. This test focuses on some of the areas mentioned above.
If you have any questions on this blog post please send me a PM.