“WHAT DID YOU SAY?” FACTS BEHIND PUTTING SIGHT WORDS FIRST
The video below is a terrific link to send to your child’s teacher. As parents, we are hard pressed to explain WHY best practice for teaching reading to our kids with Down syndrome is SIGHT WORDS FIRST.
Canada to the Rescue!
Canada’s Down Syndrome Research Foundation has produced a wonderful line of YouTube videos. Here is a link to a video which focuses on my topic today: WHY we put sight words first.
“What did you say? I can’t hear you.”
What you and your child’s educators will find there will be enormously clarifying. We all know that the vast majority of our children with DS are strong visual learners, right? And that their auditory learning skills tend to be weak. But why? How can we support our statement that “sight words first” is best practice? The video from the DSRF will explain, among other things, that our children typically have:
- Fluctuating hearing loss throughout life
- Poor auditory memory
- Poor short term memory
- Difficulty discriminating sounds
- Deficits in auditory processing which impact phonological awareness, as:
- Difficulty in discriminating blended sounds
- Difficulty keeping the order of sounds in short term memory
Can these deficits be worked with and strengthened? You bet. Does it take a great deal of patience and time, and including a visual approach to phonics? You bet.
Leading Examples of Doing It Right
Are there highly reputable institutions which have a decades-long history of tremendous success with targeting our children’s visual learning strengths, using sight words first, and teaching them to read at a phenomenally early age? Of course. To name a couple, the National Association for Child Development (NACD) and the Institute for the Achievement of Human Potential (since 1955). Not to mention the DSRF and DownsEd in the UK.
Having this knowledge, the obvious question would be: if we know about these auditory processing weaknesses (and visual learning strengths), why in the world would state education codes insist that phonics be taught first to our children? Why would teachers be held to that? Why would parents have to bow to those codes and sit by and watch their children become discouraged?
Into Battle With a New Awareness…
So I hope that, starting with the link I’ve given above, you’ll be on the road to educating your child’s educators, and in the process, taking the pressure off of everyone: child, parent, and teacher. Let’s hear it for a New Awareness!