Welcome to our monthly Spotlight on Five! ~ Struggling Readers

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Welcome to our monthly Spotlight on Five


Working with Struggling Readers 

Judi Munday, M.A.; M.Ed. 

Special Needs Educational Consultant

Struggling readers often experience difficulty with decoding and comprehension. Beginning readers tend to put most of their energy decoding or “reading” every word. Your child may be able to read phonetically regular words; but according to David Sousa, many English words do not follow the rules,1 so the child needs “sight” words as well as phonics rules. If your child knows the rules but often fails to apply them, his struggle may be caused by a learning disability–not a lack of intelligence or effort.

Current research “has demonstrated that the brains of people with dyslexia show different, less efficient, patterns of processing (including under and over activation) during tasks involving sounds in speech and letter sounds in words.”2 The dyslexic brain works “overtime” just to decode. This limits fluency, and that causes the child to read word by word– which limits comprehension.

Mental multi-tasking is a crucial element of comprehension. Struggling readers may not be able to simultaneously carry on an internal mental dialogue as they relate new information to previously learned facts, use higher order thinking skills to organize or remember new information. Students who fail to understand or retain what they read–even forget the first part of a passage before reaching the end–may have language-based learning disabilities. Students on the autism spectrum struggle with comprehension because of the literal and concrete way they think–inferential questions and the five “W” questions confound them.

To help your struggling reader, first find out if he has dyslexia. Then set realistic expectations. Make sure you’re using appropriate curriculum. Using a multi-sensory, direct instruction curriculum is critical for teaching the phonics rules. Incorporate alternative teaching tools, such as audio books. Investigate ways to adapt curriculum to give the necessary support (e.g. “unpack” questions and directly highlight key ideas). Because comprehension happens on multiple levels, you’ll need a toolkit of effective strategies to improve both decoding and comprehension. Here’s one simple strategy that really works! Each day, have your child read a different 100-200 word passage aloud until they read as naturally as they speak.

It’s important to know that struggling readers need more than so-called “brain exercises”–they require explicit instruction in decoding and teaching comprehension strategies.

1 Sousa, David A., How the Brain Learns to Read, Corwin Press, 2005, p. 36. 


Judi Munday

Judi Munday is an educational consultant for families who are homeschooling children with special needs. She is a special needs contributor for and the author of two books: Teaching Your Special Needs Student and Writing a Student Education Plan. Judi’s website can be found at where parents can learn new strategies and teaching tips to individualize instruction. She has presented at numerous homeschool conferences. Judi has a heart to equip and encourage families that they can meet their child’s unique learning needs!


Take a look below at this month’s resources for additional ideas. Be sure to let us know how you teach struggling readers in your homeschool. Email Paul and Gena Suarez and share your story. We’d love to hear about it!


September Spotlight on 



Schola Publications

Institute for Excellence in Writing

The Reading Game

Ultimate Phonics Reading Software

Irlen Institute International


Schola Publications 


The PHONICS Road to Spelling and Reading

Great spelling and reading do not have to be a mystery when you know . . . the rest of the story. Modern education methods of memorizing words using pictures, workbooks, and games will never give a student the tools to know HOW English is built and WHY it is built the way it is. With The PHONICS Road to Spelling and Reading you learn not only the foundations of great spelling, handwriting, and reading, but also how to coordinate grammar, and composition, in a multi-sensory approach with music, art, and literature, as well as an introduction to Latin like no other.
The PHONICS Road to Spelling and Reading is a unique method for teaching a student to reason through the building of English, learning to spell, read, and write with equal skill. Since this is not the way many of us were taught in our own schooling, instead of giving you a stack of books to research, coordinate, and schedule, we offer the parent or teacher comprehensive video teacher training on only 18 hours of video (10 DVDs) per year, modeling what to teach, when to teach, and how to teach it.
We invite you to visit our comprehensive website at for information and samples.

Institute for Excellence in Writing


Institute for Excellence in Writing

Is your child struggling to read? 

Primary Arts of Language (PAL) provides materials to start your primary student (K-2) confidently reading–and writing, too.

Why do so many families love PAL?

It’s effective and fun! Learning to read requires students to utilize over seventy phonograms–a daunting task for some, but PAL makes it easy. By integrating poetry, storytelling, spelling, and composition, PAL teaches phonics within the context of whole words. Letter stories introduce the individual letters to aid mastery, and the Phonetic Farm provides a place to organize vowel and consonant pairs that help us read. Daily games during Activity Time reinforce the phonetic concepts, so a student can succeed. Learners love adding stickers to their Phonetic Farm, completing their daily reader work page, and playing the phonetic games.

PAL is flexible, giving options for teaching students at varying levels of ability, and it’s easy to use. The teacher’s book is full of mentoring moments from a veteran homeschooling mom who guides you each step of the way.

Institute for Excellence in Writing backs PAL with an unconditional no time limit, 100% refund guarantee towards your satisfaction.

Effective, flexible, and fun! Visit to learn more.

The Reading Game


The Reading Game

Develop literacy through game play and build confidence in reading!


Build confidence in reading for Pre-K, K, 1st grade levels and struggling readers while having fun!

The Reading Game‘s fast paced memory card games with accompanying content-rich storybooks can help ANY child learn to read without frustration. Each card game teaches 30 vocabulary words, taught in manageable five word segments. After playing the card game, the child can easily read the accompanying book as it is told using ONLY the 30 words learned in card game play. By the time the sixth card game/book set is completed, the child will have 180 words hard-wired into their memory, many of them Dolch and High Frequency Words.

Free assessment worksheets are available on the Educator’s page here.

The Reading Game was awarded the Tillywig Brain Child Toy of the Year Award, Dr. Toy’s Best Picks for Children’s Products, The Family Review Center Gold Seal, and a Seal of Approval. The game meets Common Core State Standards. From the author of the Wordly Wise vocabulary series, Kenneth Hodkinson. Includes 6 decks of brightly colored cards, 6 illustrated storybooks, and Parent’s Guide. Only $24.95.

Use code TOS for 10% off your order. 


Read The Old Schoolhouse’s Review of The Reading Game here.

Ultimate Phonics Reading Software


Ultimate Phonics

Looking for educational software that really helps your struggling reader? Ultimate Phonics is an inexpensive, easy-to-use program that greatly improves the reading ability of many struggling readers. 

Ultimate Phonics is a complete, systematic, intensive phonics program. Mountains of research have proven that strong phonics skills are the key to excellent reading. If your child has weak phonics skills, he will never become a good reader until the problem is fixed. Ultimate Phonics thoroughly fixes the problem, and sets your child on the path to excellent reading.

Unlike many software programs, Ultimate Phonics is 100% educational, not a cartoon game or toy. Its sole purpose is to thoroughly teach your child to read with phonics. When your child has completed Ultimate Phonics, he will have learned all the phonics he will ever need to be an excellent reader.

Ultimate Phonics is ideal for homeschoolers. It is designed as a simple, affordable, effective tool that enables parents to teach their children to be excellent readers. It is suitable for children of all ages, and is especially suitable for older struggling readers.

Visit our website to learn more. 

Homeschooling Struggling Readers with Ultimate Phonics

Irlen Institute International

Provides real solutions for reading problems.

The Irlen Method

Is your child struggling to read? Is your bright child not performing to potential? Has your child been identified as having dyslexia, reading, learning, or attention problems? The Irlen Method, using colored overlays and Irlen Spectral Filters worn as glasses, may be the answer.
How and why does it work? 
Visual information is processed by the brain. You see what your brain wants you to see. Visual processing difficulties can cause print to be hard to see, thus interfering
with the ability to read, learn, concentrate, and comprehend. The Irlen Method filters the part of the light spectrum which the brain cannot process accurately making print clear, stable, and easy to read. Everyone needs their own unique color for maximum improvement.
The Irlen Method may be the answer if your child exhibits any of the following when reading:
  • Poor comprehension
  • Prefers dim light
  • Reads slowly, hesitantly
  • Loses place
  • Eyes hurt, ache, feel itchy
  • Fidgety, restless
  • Reads close to the page
  • Rereads for comprehension
  • Misread words
  • Skips words, lines
  • Takes breaks
  • Tired, sleepy
  • Headaches, stomachaches
  • Rubs eyes
Visit for a self-test, find a certified Irlen diagnostician, 
and to learn more about this innovative technology. 



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