The journey a child takes to become an avid reader can be as unique as their favorite bedtime story. Some kids sit quietly and read along during story time, others jump and shout at exciting moments in the book, while others wiggle and play around the room as they listen.
For parents who worry about a child who can’t sit still, the pressure is off! There may be a time and place for quiet focus, but it shouldn’t always be expected, especially not when working to instill a love of reading or interest in a subject. Depending on a child’s learning style, those perceived “disruptive” behaviors might help certain kids better process information. If your kiddo is a wiggler, it may be helpful to embrace movement and make reading time more active.
However, if you continue to face problems as you try out new ideas, early intervention with a specialist can help struggling readers make progress.
Early intervention is key for children who may be having difficulty learning to read. There are many programs available that can help children with reading. Through these programs, educators focus on reading fundamentals, phonics, and individualized work that helps students develop tools they need to become independent readers. Shelli Thomas, a reading therapist at Trinity School for over a decade, says she benefited from one such program.
“I was in fourth grade before I started reading. I was just overlooked,” says Thomas. “It was my grandmother who figured it out. She asked me to read her a recipe and I couldn’t. And now I’m a reading therapist!“
Thomas believes in access to early intervention for all children who need it, and she wants Oklahomans to know that even families with limited financial means have options including Head Start programs, and many libraries offer free tutoring. The Payne Education Center is another good resource for parents. They offer classes for both educators and parents.
Trinity also offers FREE SCREENINGS for dyslexia by appointment. Our school specializes in teaching students with learning differences, including a unique curriculum with dyslexia intervention across all subjects.
If your child struggles to learn, consider screening and testing for learning differences and know ahead of time that early intervention is not a straight path. You and your child may end up exploring several options to aid their learning and focus along the way.
According to Thomas, children with ADHD may need movement so their brains can process what they’re hearing. Stand, move, or walk while reading together, or develop games with your child to make reading time more active. In class (as long as they are not disturbing their neighbors), kids can stand or sit in wobble chairs in class to help incorporate a multi-sensory approach.
It’s not uncommon to find hurdles along the path of learning to read. It can be difficult to find the joy in books. It takes understanding of a child and their needs, as well as a trusting environment. It can also be helpful to find something that really resonates with a child. “What got me reading and really interested in books was my love of horses,” Thomas said.
Like many of Trinity’s teachers, Thomas has a life-long passion for helping children who learn differently to reach their full potential. The individualized curriculum that Trinity uses helps children receive what they need to learn.
“Reading is hard,” she says. “I still read slowly, and sometimes I have to read it twice, but Trinity’s reading therapy room is a safe place – you can make mistakes and no one is judged.”
Shelli Thomas is an expert at remediating students who have Dyslexia. She is a Certified Academic Language Therapist (CALT) and Certified Dyslexia Therapist and has taught reading and math and many other subjects at Trinity since 2007. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from UCO. Teaching children to read has always been her passion! Shelli is always the first to jump in with field trips, activities, and just about anything that helps our students grow! She’s an experienced mentor for our new teachers and was recently promoted as the Lower School Division Head.
Shelli has three adult sons and four grandchildren. Her youngest son is a graduate of Trinity and Oklahoma Christian University. She credits the teachers he had at Trinity for giving him the tools he needed to be successful. She loves Peanuts and our students recently assembled a Snoopy puzzle that hangs in our Reading Therapy room.