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Volume 2 • #8 • April 2003


Which kid do you know of who would rather look at a page in a book than a computer screen, even if they both have the same thing printed on them? Silly question. Bowing to modern times, we have just, --well-- had another baby. Get out the cigars and cheer for the RfS Phonics Book on a CD ROM.

Actually it wasn’t just the lure of computers that caused us to go to the arduous job of doing this. The computer has one huge advantage over printed material. Lessons can be color-coded, which is much too expensive for print. To the dyslectic student, a word is apt to look like a long line of squiggles, because that is the way his right hemisphere sees them. Separating syllables with color, alternating, say, a black syllable and then a red one, shows him that those three red letters in that first syllable are no harder than the three letter words he has just been studying, and the three or four black letters in the second half of the word are just as easy. Even a seven letter word then becomes easy to read, one color at a time, so the student immediately gets a morale boost, which you rub in by saying something like,

“WOW. You just read tonsil. You never read that before, or spelled it, either. You’re gettin’ GOOD.”

Color coding is also very helpful to teach prefixes and suffixes as well as Y’s that change to I’s, and accents. It keeps the student, when he sees “restore” from trying to say “rest” and then being stuck, or having “restrain” come out rest, rain. Accents are hard to teach a dyslectic student, and having the loud syllable bright red helps.

The printed world isn’t color-coded, of course, so you have to wean him away from the crutch as soon as possible. Doing this at the right time is part of the expertise built into the new CD.

So now the packet comes with the CD included, so you have both book and disk. Why both? Well, you might not have a computer. Or maybe you do, but a virus just ate up your hard drive, or the electricity went out just as you were about to start your lesson, or the new puppy chewed up your mouse. Like any good Boy Scout, it is better to Be Prepared.

Teaching Tip:

When I teach a child the rule that a Y changes to an I when you add a suffix, I go through a silly routine that goes like this: “The letter Y is claustrophobic. It can’t stand being inside something. As long as it is at the end of the word out in the fresh air, it is OK, but as soon as you bring a suffix over and shut it in, the poor thing pulls its little tail up, claps its arms together, says “Pfft” and spits out a dot, turning into an i.”

This entertains the kids and helps them remember, but it is a bit much for adults. So you say, “When I teach kids that Y turns to I when you add a suffix, I like to tell them that a Y is claustrophobic. . . (etc., etc.). That way they remember it better. Some day I am going to have a movie of a Y acting like this. Wouldn’t that be neat?”



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