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How to improve your child's reading and comprehension

PUBLISHED: 10:56 24 July 2019 | UPDATED: 10:35 05 August 2019

Lindamood-Bell are helping children improve their reading, writing and comprehension skills with bespoke learning programmes. Picture: Lindamood-Bell

Lindamood-Bell are helping children improve their reading, writing and comprehension skills with bespoke learning programmes. Picture: Lindamood-Bell

Copyright Owen Main 2018

Lindamood-Bell is offering students in north London the chance to improve their reading and comprehension with tailor-made programmes

Each student is offered a free Diagnostic Screening for Learning to assess their needs. Picture: Lindamood-BellEach student is offered a free Diagnostic Screening for Learning to assess their needs. Picture: Lindamood-Bell

When a child struggles with reading or comprehension, extra help typically focuses on phonics, or sounding out words, and spelling rules.

However, many children - even those who have had years of extra help - continue to struggle. Perhaps they sound out a word eventually, but it takes a while so they miss the meaning of the text altogether. Or maybe they substitute words when reading a paragraph, or read 'production' instead of 'perfection.'

For many pupils, sight word recognition remains difficult. They may attempt to use phonics strategies for most words, such as reading /pee/ /oh/ /plee/ for the word 'people.' When they finally conquer a word, they might not recognise that same word again in the next paragraph. A child may also be unable to spell words phonetically or remember the visual patterns of words (orthography). For example, they may spell the word 'friend' as 'f-r-e-n-d'.

Lindamood-Bells north London learning centre is open this summer, helping children to return to school with improved learning skills and greater confidence. Picture: Lindamood-BellLindamood-Bells north London learning centre is open this summer, helping children to return to school with improved learning skills and greater confidence. Picture: Lindamood-Bell

What's the cause?

These challenges can be caused by weakness in symbol imagery, which underlies both phonological and orthographic processing. Symbol imagery (the ability to visualise the sounds and letters in words) is necessary for quickly recognising letters and common words and sounding out new words.

Traditional programmes focus on how to sound out words and reading and spelling rules. While these activities have value, they do not affect the imagery-language foundation or how a pupil is processing language.

When comprehension is a struggle

Children with decoding issues can be easy to spot. They often miscall words, their oral reading is slow and 'choppy', and spelling is tough to master.

They may have difficulty recalling what they've read, or they might get some details or parts but have difficulty remembering a book or story as a whole. Homework and schoolwork relying on understanding the text will be difficult, and they can be prone to poor decision making. Thinking through the implications and consequences of their actions may be challenging because they may not 'see' the big picture.

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Many students with language comprehension weakness may also have poor writing skills. Without the 'big picture' idea for their topic, a child can have a hard time coming up with a strong paragraph. They may have difficulty with problem-solving methods required in maths and science and can become overwhelmed after more than one or two directions.

If you suspect your child might struggle with the imagery-language foundation or have weak concept imagery, Lindamood-Bell can help.

The Seeing Stars® programme, authored by Lindamood-Bell co-founder Nanci Bell, develops symbol imagery as a basis for orthographic awareness, phonemic awareness, word attack, word recognition, spelling and contextual reading fluency.

The Visualizing and Verbalizing® programme, also authored by Nanci Bell, develops concept imagery, which can improve reading and listening comprehension, memory, oral vocabulary, critical thinking and writing.

Both of these programmes are research-validated. For more information, including recent research regarding Seeing Stars from the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences, University of Washington (UW), go to lindamoodbell.com/research.

Start the school year strong

Imagine your child going back to school with better learning skills and more confidence. This summer, Lindamood-Bell's north London centre will be open for learning, and each child's programme will be tailored to meet their learning needs to give them the tools to start the school year strong, often in as few as four to six weeks.

Students can make extraordinary advancements in reading, comprehension or maths, and getting started is free with their complimentary Diagnostic Screening for Learning.

This 30-minute screening measures a child's reading and comprehension skills, and includes a consultation with the centre director. They will be able to give you answers to questions about school performance, behaviour, frustrations and homework issues.

Get started today by calling +44 (0) 207 727 0660 or visiting LindamoodBell.co.uk.

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