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My 9-year-old daughter reads and comprehends at an advanced level and uses a wide vocabulary very well in speech. However, she does have ADD and dysgraphia. She also has poor spelling, although I've tried a variety of approaches that are supposed to be helpful for dyslexics etc. So I am looking for curriculum focused on the synthesizing of language vs. the reading/analyzing skills. I suppose it's 2 sides of the same coin, but I'd like to know if your curriculum effectively addresses spelling issues for good readers. Or is there a way I can teach it in order to turn the focus on the spelling? Also, what's the main difference between the 4-9 year old curriculum and the 10-adult? The workshops seem to show them covering the same topics in the same way. Thanks! Val

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Hi Val, I’m a mom who uses both the print version and computer version for younger students for my kids, and have used the adult version of the computer program for an older student. The computer versions are not identical in presentation method, but they cover the same material. The differences I see are in the speed with which they cover it (the adult one moving faster), and the younger version is clearly directed to a child with child-appealing graphics, games, etc. I’m not exactly sure what you mean by synthesizing language vs. reading/analyzing skills, but I can tell you from experience with various phonics programs over the years with my own kids, that not all programs calling themselves ‘phonics’ are created equal. Reading Horizons explicitly and systematically teaches kids the rules for decoding words, which are also the rules for spelling. It also teaches additional spelling rules. Some kids naturally pick up how letter sounds make words and become good readers using context clues as well, so we might not be so inclined to teach the rules, thinking "oh, they’re already reading, so there’s no need." While not everyone is destined to be an excellent speller, we help them to be good spellers by explicitly teaching the rules, which Reading Horizons does - well. Personally, I’d give your daughter some nonsense words that force her to use phonics rules, and see if she can read them without context. If she struggles to read them, I’d consider putting her through Reading Horizons to be sure she has actually learned the rules, otherwise it might be overkill (not to mention expensive) to put her through the complete program, just for spelling rules. If money is no concern, you can’t go wrong with Reading Horizons just for spelling, either. I could be wrong, but you’ll have to wade through the teacher manual to get the rules’ explanations, as they are presented sequentially throughout the manual. Bev


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Val, Spelling seems to be an issue for so many. It is always an issue for those with dyslexia, but it is a little puzzling when someone seems to be able to read well and yet still has problems with spelling. When we read, the process we use is called decoding, in which we look at a word and determine what sound(s) we should say. When we spell we are encoding, which is a mirror process of decoding. Encoding is taking a sound you hear, recalling the representative letter combination(s), and writing them down. If there difficulty is more auditory processing based than visual, they will have more difficulty with spelling than reading. Discover Intensive Phonics handles both processes. We first show the grapheme to the student and teach the sound associated with that grapheme. They learn to mark that grapheme with its associated sound (phoneme) within words in order to decode. We do the reverse process by dictating a word to the students and then having them write the word and prove it. There is more flexibility and opportunity with encoding using the direct instruction materials than on the software, but there is opportunity for encoding in both. The skills that are taught systematically in this program will give your daughter the tools to help her process the sounds auditorily and the markings will give her a visual representation to connect that to. This, along with the skills taught, will help her recognize the patterns and understand why a word is spelled the way it is. Most of these learners want to know why a word says what it does and is spelled the way it is. Discover Intensive Phonics gives them the why. Just make sure if you decide to use this program that you really emphasize the encoding. With every skill she learns use the word lists we suggest and have her mark them, decode them and then dictate them to her to write in order to strengthen her encoding skills. Both of our programs teach the Discover Intensive Phonics method starting from simple phonemes to multi-syllable words. The difference is in the speed in which the students move through those skills and the older version introduces multi-syllable words sooner. The younger one is more kid-friendly with graphics and games, and the older version is more focused on drill and practice with more vocabulary building practice. Shantell


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Hi Val, My son is also 9 years old. He too struggles with spelling. He used Discover Intensive Phonics software for 4 - 9 and loved it. It includes games to reinforce the skills taught in the lessons. Two of the games focus on spelling of words. Although, my son is dyslexic and struggled with reading in addition prior to using this program, I have seen a remarkable difference in his spelling since completing this program. There are some lessons in the program that teach specific to spelling. Some words just do not follow the rules. But, with a full phonics background most can be spelled. From my experience, most of our kids are being taught phonics with only the basics and not a full understanding. They are then left to figure the rest out. I found that when my son spells a word incorrectly it is helpful to ask him to look at the word and tell me what he wrote. This usually helps him to see that what he spelled is not the right word. He will then think more carefully about the sounds he has heard. If your daughter does not have a strong phonics foundation to be able to know all the sounds that letter combinations make then maybe this would help her. We used only the computer software. It took about 1/2 hour each day. Some more some less. The lessons are organized in such a logical, cummulative way where each thing helps to build a foundation for the next. The games in the younger version are wonderful as well. He played with no prodding and did not realize that he was learning and reinforcing the learning. Tracy


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Thank you all for your responses, they've all been very informative. I am surprised she is challenged by spelling but not reading, also, although her dad is the same way. After looking through materials and reading your responses, and letting her try the sample questions, the explicit phonics instruction will help her. I can easily spell well, but I don't really have any idea about the rules of phonics any more, so I was struggling to find a way to teach her something that came easily to me. Thanks again! Valerie


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I am not surprised at all by the fact that your child can read very well but struggles with writing. In encoding (reading) the brain can adapt very well to some missing phonetic information. I graduated college with an English degree and still could not read new words in isolation. I had learned whole words not phonics. For this reason, I had many memorized words in my lexicon and could figure out many words based on what was around the word. Spelling is a somewhat different animal. No matter what words are around the word I don't know how to spell if the skills are not there, there is no hiding the lack. I have since learned to teach dyslexic students through Orton Gillingham, Wilson, Project Read, and a host of other programs. The consequenses being I can read without assistance now and I have learned more than most people want to know about reading and writing. To answer your question, a systematic phonetic program like this program will be the best help for your child. While the program is teaching reading, it is based on Orton Gillingham which is a rules based program. This will fill in the gaps and open the world of spelling. Guest


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