Have you ever tried explaining why the word ‘ballet’ ends with a silent t, or why the word ‘knee’ begins with silent k to a young child learning to read? English includes hundreds of words with silent consonants, and vastly more with silent vowels. Have you ever heard the phrase sometimes taught to children learning to read that “two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking” (as in the word bead)? Did you know that that expression is only true with 45% of English words? There are 309 words for which that rule applies, but 377 words for which is it not true, like bear, noise and friend.

“Sounding out” is the most inefficient and ineffective strategy for young children learning to read in English. English has words borrowed from so many languages, and has such inconsistent spelling patterns, that telling children to “sound it out” is practically guaranteed to leave them frustrated, discouraged, and less inclined to learn to read or enjoy reading for pleasure in the long run. This article is not to make anyone feel badly for having used this technique in the past. It’s not your fault. Almost everyone thinks sounding out is how children learn to read.

Reading, which includes comprehension strategies such as visualizing, predicting, inferring, questioning, analyzing and critiquing, includes so much more than decoding, or sounding out/identifying words. Growing to be a confident and competent reader also includes affect, the way children feel about reading/texts, their confidence, sense of competence and motivation. All of these factors impact a child/tween/teen’s academic achievement and is predictive of later literacy and economic success in today’s economy.

Most children/tweens/teens could benefit from extra support around learning how to deeply understanding texts and gain proficiency with the skillful moves that strong readers make while reading. I assess and tutor learners ages 5-18 using an equitable sliding scale based on family income, and am willing to negotiate my rates per family. I have helped many dozens of students, including with dyslexia, become competent and confident readers, and enjoy the process.

“‘Ridiculously effective’ is the phrase that comes to mind when I think of Sarah. My daughter struggled with reading comprehension. Sarah worked with my daughter for 2 months and the results were amazing: My daughter’s NWEA reading test score jumped 15 points, the largest jump she’s ever made from Spring to Fall. Her gains were more than 91% of students! Bottom line: the strategies and tools that Sarah taught my daughter got RESULTS. I highly recommend Sarah for any student struggling with reading comprehension!”- Parent

See additional reviews on LifelongLearning’s Facebook page. To learn more, schedule a brief free consult, or schedule an assessment for a student with Dr. Sarah Elizabeth, Reading Specialist and Tutor, and former Adjunct Professor of Education at NYU, Roosevelt University, Loyola University and UIC, please contact her at lifelonglearning312@gmail.com

Content provided by Women Belong member Dr. Sarah Elizabeth