Episode 03: Let’s Talk About Reading & Literacy

Reading books and sharing stories can be such a fun part of parenting. It can also be tricky to figure out how to move beyond the bedtime story to foster a love of reading that spills into other parts of our lives and routines. How can we naturally encourage more reading and a love for stories? What if our kids are reluctant readers? How do we know if there is something more at play? We tackle these questions and more with help from our guests. 

  • Part 1: How to foster a love for reading and encourage reluctant readers?
  • Part 2: When is it more than reluctance? Dyslexia and learning disorders

Supplemental Resources

Meet our Hosts

Amanda Chavez, Owner & Creative Director, WiscoFam / Go Valley Kids / Go Oshkosh Kids
Born and raised in Appleton, Wisconsin, Amanda Chavez has a deep love for her community. As a busy mom of 2 little girls, she and her husband are always on the lookout for fun things to do and share with others. Her work combines all of her passions – motherhood, design, and community. Some of her other interests also peak through as well, including baking, photography, and sewing!

Tania Harrison, Women’s Fund of Oshkosh and Owner Harrison & Co. Creative
Tania Harrison is the founder of Harrison & Co. Creative and a freelance creative consultant. She is a mom of four with a passion for compelling visuals, meaningful words, and an entrepreneurial edge. Tania specializes in helping businesses and organizations strengthen their branding and marketing efforts in social media spaces to make authentic connections with their customers and audiences. She is also part of the steering committee for the Women’s Fund parenting initiative.

Special Thanks

Liz Schultz, ProducerWiscoFam / Go Valley Kids / Go Oshkosh Kids

Marlo Ambras, Audio & Video Engineer, Ambas Creative

Transcript

Amanda Chavez  00:00

Hello and welcome to Let’s Talk, the show that connects families and Oshkosh with local experts to talk about your parenting questions. I’m Amanda Chavez here with my co-host, Tania Harrison, and today we’re going to talk about reading and literacy with Kelly Steinke and Kallie Schell. We’ll be talking about reading and sharing stories with our kids, ideas for encouraging more reading, and when to worry about our reluctant readers. How can we fit more time for reading into our schedules? Where do we get help if we’re worried about our learning readers? And how do we know if we need help in the first place? We’ll talk about this and more with Kelly and Kallie. I would like to introduce our guest host, Tania from the Women’s Fund. Thanks for joining us.

Tania Harrison  00:38

Thanks for having me. I’m gonna just give a quick introduction of our guests today. Kelly is a mom of twins, twin girls, both of whom have dyslexia. Kelly began her career as a special education teacher and taught for 20 years. Kelly went on to found read learning Educational Services LLC, and has been a dyslexia specialist for seven years. Kallie is from the Oshkosh Public Library. Kallie graduated from St. Catherine University in St. Paul with a master’s in Library and Information Science in 2019. Thanks so much for being here.

Kallie Schell  01:14

Thank you for having us.

Kelly Steinke  01:15

Thank you for having us.

Amanda Chavez  01:17

We’re so excited to be talking about this and the timing is great, right? End of the school year, almost summer’s upon us. And something I think reading as parents, we’re always trying to figure out how to do that more, or it’s always changing, right? As soon as we figure it out as a parent, then something changes and having these resources I think are a great place to start.

Tania Harrison  01:39

We’re gonna take a quick break and we’ll be back to talk about reading and literacy with Kallie and Kelly.

Amanda Chavez  01:44

Let’s Talk is brought to you through the partnership of Go Oshkosh Kids and the Women’s Fund of Oshkosh. The Women’s Fund of Oshkosh works to improve the lives of women, girls, and families of the communities of Winnebago County through philanthropy, grant-making, and education. Okay, let’s start with Kallie. Kallie, how do we, start building those habits right when they’re little right when they’re babies? And what do you have tips there to start with?

Kallie Schell  02:14

Yeah, so what’s really important is getting kids familiar with books. So what does that mean when they’re six months old, because they’re not going to pick up a board book and read. So I learned through some seminars that kids just knowing what a book feels like, what it what the shape is, what it looks like, what a pretty picture is. So have a board book around, I know they’re probably going to gnaw on it a little bit. But that is them getting to know what a book feels like. They can open it up and see pretty bright picture one word. So they’re getting they’re getting themselves familiar with what the format looks like, even if they’re six months old, and can’t say, hey, look, this is a book. And that’s where your local library really can come in. Because we are trained in how to connect kids at a very young age with how to equate reading with pleasure. So what does that look like? So at the Oshkosh Public Library, we have something called high hopes. And this is a baby and toddler time where our wonderful librarian, Lindsay will sit down and read stories to them, she interacts with them a little bit. And then they have an activity that goes with it. So you’ve, you’ve read them a story, what we love to do is do voices and singing and dancing. So that equates reading with pleasure as well. And then they get to use their hands to develop those fine motor skills, or just play with each other. So I guess what it comes down to really is equating reading with pleasure. And that seems like such a simple thing. But going out in the community and going to your library, we love to have kids around, we’ve missed them during COVID. So we’re so excited. And then, as they get older, we do have programs like family storytime. So when they’ve reached two or three, they’ve kind of hit that transition from very simple books to having a more complex understanding of concepts. So when we talk about equating reading with pleasure, you also want kids to feel confident in what they’re reading. So if you sit down and storytime and I’ll do a flannel story, and we’ll identify colors, I’ll ask them to count with me. Well, they’ve achieved something with me together, we’ve read a story and they’ve, they feel empowered. They’re very excited. It’s always fun to see kids excited about reading. So those are a few programs at the library. And then another one that we have is High Hopes, we are transitioning the program, but it’s a reading program for kids that they can take home. So it’s similar to 1000 Books Before Kindergarten, if anyone’s heard of that, that’s a very popular public library program. And we just have parents take home a sheet for their kids to read. They mark it off, they get a prize for some incentive. Yeah, so some incentive to read and that’s something we encourage throughout the year. So during the winter, we have wild winter read off. Kids are out of school but we want them to still read we want them to still have fun and they get to come spend a fun little wheel like Wheel of Fortune and get a prize. And then summer reading is our big, big, big program. That’s our marathon for the year. And we put a lot of work into connecting with the community so that kids can come in, get prizes from, you know, maybe Culvers, or the swimming pool. Yeah, so we have a lot of that, because something that’s always worried about, it’s always read educators, and we really think about it is what’s called the summer slide. Sometimes their reading levels will slide then and we don’t want to see that because then they go on to the next school year would realize they have a little less confidence. And as confidence wanes, kids are going to be more resistant to reading. And that’s, we don’t want to see that. But we also understand where it comes from.

Amanda Chavez  05:49

We were talking earlier that some my kids are nine and 11. Right now for you forget sometimes those earlier stages, but you see a lot of people asking for books for their library for baby showers, right? And you ask any parent, right? We’re not in that picture book, like, but I can tell you what my kid’s favorite one was right? Like what our favorite ones when they were little and what are still on our bookshelf. So I like that idea of and we also like to read gift our books, we we purchase a lot of our books, and it does get I mean, if you add it up, right, it can get expensive or can go to your library. But I always think it’s fun to just hand off those well. Oh, well love to book Yeah, your favorite, although my kids read them their favorites over and over again, that they start to now we’re starting replacing books, which is fun. But those are great tips. Thanks for sharing. Kelly as a mom, do you have any other reading tips?

Kelly Steinke  06:47

Getting kids to enjoy reading? You know, as I was sitting here listening to the conversation, my first thought that went through my mind was really making sure they have some background knowledge. So you know, if a student is or a child is showing that they’re really not interested in reading, you know, the big question to ask is why? You know, why aren’t they interested in reading? And sometimes it’s not an easy answer, like it’s boring, or I’d rather be outside playing. Sometimes those answers are excuses, possibly for: “Reading’s difficult.” “I get frustrated with it.” “I don’t feel smart when I read because the reading is hard.” And you know, sometimes it couldn’t be as simple as just lacking background knowledge on the book that has been chosen. You know, because our learning occurs in pleasure occurs in our reading, when we can attach something that we’re reading about or learning about to your previous experiences or previous knowledge on a given topic.

Amanda Chavez  07:48

I liked how you said that too, Kelly, I like finding things that my kids really enjoy. So my youngest really loves horses and finding those books and those magazines, she’ll read that over and over again. And our family started the Harry Potter series. So now like, we read the Harry Potter books, we listen to him, we really love hoopla. And we listened to him when we’re driving so we can get some of that reading time there. And then she loves the Harry Potter like trivia magazines. And if she doesn’t have that, like thing that she’s interested in or gravitate to, she doesn’t she’s not a big reader either. But if it’s something she enjoys learning about, she forgets that it’s reading.

Tania Harrison  08:28

Our kids have been similar, our, a couple of our kiddos, we have four, their interests, were more in nonfiction, and for some younger readers or earlier readers are isn’t as much always as interesting in those kinds of in that genre. So that was sometimes a struggle, where we just got the suggestion from teachers to just still, you know, give them the book, and they will, you know, will flip through and kind of pick out things. But if it is a topic that is more that they’re more curious about, they’re more apt to even if it’s just flipping through it, they may not be gathering all of the information that’s, you know, written in there, but it’s something that they at least will hang on to, and they’ll pull out something from it.

Kelly Steinke  09:07

Yeah. And, you know, you brought up a good point about, you know, if they have an interest, but they don’t necessarily want to read through the entire book, your audiobooks are such a great, you know, tool that we can use. And so if we can get subscriptions through our schools to Learning Ally or Audible or other sometimes the libraries have, what are the books with the recording inside where they can put the ear pods in? 

Kallie Schell  09:31

Yeah, the Playaways.  Play Away is a really fun for kids to use. So you know, you can still grow that background knowledge grow, you know, vocabulary, comprehension, exposure to text through, you know, listening to books.

Tania Harrison  09:44

Yeah, we have used Epic before. That’s a platform that we’ve used through school that we’ve, especially through COVID. We had subscriptions through that and that was that was helpful and useful. Not all of the titles on their head had audio versions, but yeah, that’s a good that’s a good tip as well.

Amanda Chavez  09:58

Do you still do like at the library like the CD books, or have you phased out there? My kids had their little, we had to dig out and find a CD player and they loved reading those books that way too.

Kallie Schell  10:10

Yeah, and we do still offer those. And an interesting story that I very heartwarming. We had a girl and it was during COVID she was struggling to read and you know, homeschooling it’s a it’s a struggle. So we gave her a book with a CD. And I told her, I was like, why don’t you put the CDN, open the book and read along. And her her reading accelerated over the course of six months quite well in her mom’s like, it’s because she could hear something while she was learning those words, in a way that sometimes she doesn’t want to hear mom’s voice or the person and the audiobook. I love audiobooks, I’m actually listening to the Harry Potter once again, because they do the voices for you. You have it imagined in your head, right. But to hear someone else do them, it’s so much fun. And I also had a girl come in once who she wanted to love the Harry Potter books, I don’t know if they were popular at school, she really wanted to get into them. She was sort of connecting with the fantasy of it. But she was having a really hard time reading and comprehending and also imagining that world. So we see a lot of kids resisting what we called world building. So in fantasy worlds, you’re getting a whole new place where people live. And so what I told her, I was like, You know what? Why don’t you try listening to it, let’s just see if that works. And she’s like, I love those books. I just needed to listen to them. And I’m sure Kelly can speak more to that processing than neurological processing. But there are so many ways to get your kids and trusted. And I think, you know, of course, I’m gonna give a shout out to the library, we are experts were there to help guide parents and like Tania said, sometimes nonfiction books seems so accelerated. So all sit down with young kids who maybe they’re interested in space, well, there’s plenty of books about space, but they’re kind of advanced. So we talk about what they’re interested in. And sometimes it’s just looking at the pictures and getting to know what those things are. And my you know, I always encourage the parents just sit down and kind of explain some of this to them. Even if you don’t have a lot of time. When they show interest in something, we have other books they can, they can connect with as well. But that’s one of the number one ways to make reading pleasurable is letting kids read what interests them. Because plenty of times we’re asked to read certain books in school, and we just have to read them and that’s okay. But in their downtime, kind of let them read what they want. You know, parents are always allowed to like, take a quick check out what their kids are reading. So it’s not too advanced. But that’s what I encourage the most as, and your librarians are that we read constantly, like we’re always catching up on what’s the latest. So we’re there to help kids understand what’s best for them, maybe what’s too much, but what they could aspire to have a lot of options for them. And I’m going to plug graphic novels, we have a lot of parents who are resistant to graphic novels, because they’re reminiscent of comics, I’ve done a fair amount of research on graphic novels. And one of the biggest things is, it’s another way for kids to understand what the body and facial expressions are with a conversation. So it’s just a different again, the brain processes things very differently depending on who you are. Because I know some people were like graphic novels, that’s like reading subtitles on a movie. But some kids are like, Oh, my gosh, I could see how they were talking. And then I could make that voice in my head. So we always want to consider when we think about our kids reading. Everyone processes things differently. And no one’s going to be an expert. No parents expected to be an expert. So you have people in your community, super excited to help.

Tania Harrison  13:35

I love that you did touch on the barriers of like finding time because everybody’s busy. And while we know it’s extremely important to make time to read with the kiddos and to really get them exposure to more books and to engage in that more, it can be a challenge with everything in life. So as much as we want to, it doesn’t always happen the way we’d like it to so knowing that we all know that the library exists. But I think all of these reminders about what is offered there and as well as the audiobooks. Again, we know that those exists. But just another reminder of those are helpful because that’s just one more, one more touch point that we can get kids connected to and hopefully build that interest.

Amanda Chavez  14:16

Yeah, I think one of my child’s teachers told me one time, which always stuck with me think it was when she was in third grade. It was like that. She didn’t have a lot of homework, but her homework was to read that 20 to 30 minutes a night. So I remember sitting in a conference and she was like, Are you getting your reading in? No, it’s like, oh, yeah, of course. And she she must have read my face because she was like, okay, you don’t have to get the 20 to 30 minutes even in one sitting and I was like, oh, even just like thinking to find that chunk. She’s like if it’s on the way to school in their paging, thorough book that counts as reading time and that like expectation or that like mom guilt to get that reading. And I love that I need to do that you said You I think, as a parent and in the traditional world, I think, okay, reading has to be this chapter book. And I think it was that same teacher that was like, hey, graphic novels are reading still, that’s okay. Because I thought oh, my kid isn’t doesn’t love reading but she doesn’t love reading those big chapter books or the books with no pictures and, and finding those other non traditional ways are reading still counts as reading theirs, are still fostering that love of reading.

Kallie Schell  15:27

Also, reminding people that listening to audiobooks is reading, we try to drive that point home because I think that’s kind of a newer concept. But yes, listening to audiobooks is reading, because it’s a way of processing that information. And it’s also you can stream them in your car, you know, like I, I will always give a shout out to Hoopla. That’s what we use through our library. Other libraries will use Overdrive or Libby. They’re free apps, you just have to have a library card and you can download the books you want. I love hoopla because the Harry Potter books are always available.

Amanda Chavez  16:01

We went to we had a I mean, we were paying for a service. And then I found the Hopla. And I was like, This is amazing. So our get we’ve been we also like the illustrated versions of the Harry Potter books, because they have those pictures every once in a while and, and we follow up with the movies. So my kids like, which is their new favorite thing is we finished reading the book and watch the movie and they love picking out everything that the movie didn’t have, right? So the whole movie, we got to pause it and talk through things and process that stuff. But it’s our way that it was like something we could do together to. I was talking with a friend the other day, and it was like, when did we stop that, like we read with our kids on our lap before bed, and then all of a sudden, you’re, you’re out of that phase? And it was like, Whoa, when did that stop and remember when it stopped, but finding those connections with our kids still are important as they’re getting older. But that’s how we’ve been connecting.

Tania Harrison  16:57

So, if we have a reluctant reader, what would you guys suggest? Like maybe some of our first tips, or what should we look for if we’re finding some reluctancy, with with books in general or reading in general, there are specifics that, you know, we start to see as parents or the teachers notice that we can kind of watch for?

Kelly Steinke  17:16

I can do I can speak to that little bit, I think, you know, the elephant, per se in the room here is dyslexia. And that’s a conversation that we can’t, you know, avoid when we’re talking about reluctant readers or having trouble with reading. Everything we’ve said in this conversation is all good and wonderful. But what if, what if a child can’t figure out how to sound out words, you know, although they’ve had great parents who have read with them, not perfect parents, but parents who do support their children, they’ve had good teachers, and yet, they can’t read. And I think you know, the neurodiversity in our brains is a really wonderful thing. And there are different brain wirings for how we acquire language. And if you see a real great reluctancy in child with their reading, and it persist over time, I think number one is, you know, don’t wait too long until you start, you know, looking for signs and symptoms of dyslexia. Because it is the most common reading disability out there. Research suggests that affects 15 to 20% of our population in general. And that will differ in severity from mild to moderate, to severe to profound. And when you look at our high needs populations within our schools, our title reading programs or special ed programs, or even our students in our RTI system in response to intervention, who need extra reading help, you know, research has shown that upwards of 80% of those students are going to be struggling with reading, because of dyslexia, whether that’s diagnosed or not, and some signs to look for, you know, I do have a resource on signs and symptoms to look for, that will probably be you know, made available to those who are listening to this. But, you know, if you start at the preschool and kindergarten level, you’re going to look for clusters of symptoms. You know, I don’t want to alarm parents, you know, it’s not one or two things, but look for clusters. Look for children having great difficulty differentiating between left and right. You know, switching handedness, maybe they appear to be ambidextrous, they can’t choose a dominant hand. Possibly difficulty Tying shoelaces, difficulty remembering the sequences of letters in the alphabet, unless they’re singing the alphabet. You know that singing does help. You know, chronic ear infections are actually one sign of potentially, you know, dyslexia. difficulty remembering how to spell their name, difficulty remembering anything really rote, you know, rote memorization difficult Lt pronouncing words you know correctly. Remember when my daughters were young it this is actually one of my favorite memories of dyslexia note it was somewhat frustrating for my girls at the time. You know, grasshopper wasn’t a grasshopper it was a hop grasser and a sandcastle wasn’t a sand castle was a canned SASL, in our lawn mower was always a mole honor. You know, so you’re gonna pick up on these nuances to their language where there’s just kind of an overall confusion over our language. But most of all, if you’re looking for dyslexia, in a young child, you’re going to see that they’re just not connecting their letters and sounds. Or if they do, it’s taken light years, you know, to get them to connect their letters and sounds way more repetitions and maybe a sibling took, you know, or their peers are taking in the classroom. Or once they get those letter sound correspondences, they just can’t seem to blend words together. It you know, the bus kind of stops there with those letter sound correspondences. And that’s points towards an issue with phonemic awareness, like phonological processing. And, you know, some of these things is characteristics may go away as the child gets a little bit older, but some will certainly persist. So in first through fourth grade, you’re going to see problems with reading fluency. So so their reading may be choppy, inaccurate, it might not be quick enough for them to comprehend what they’re reading. And you’re also going to see them guessing in a lot of words, or replacing, you know, synonyms for words, because just because you have dyslexia, or the characteristics of dyslexia doesn’t mean you’re not smart. In fact, dyslexia can affect you know, any intelligence level. But you know, by and large, these kids are smart. So they’re going to substitute in synonyms for words, because they’re compensating, you know, they’re using compensation strategies when they’re reading, to get around the fact that they can’t sound words out. So you know, the characteristics kind of go on and on, you will not always but often see reversals to in letters and or numbers. And that’s a big one that I get a lot, you know, parents will call in, and they’ll say, Well, you know, so and so my child’s teacher, you know, did mention they have a couple of reversals still, they’re in fourth grade, or fifth grade, but they said, That’s pretty, pretty normal once in a while for kids to have that problem, you know, and parents will say, Oh, is that normal in fourth or fifth grade? No, it’s not, in in fact, issues with spelling, and issues with reversals, are very indicative of a learning disability, and reversal should be cleared up. By the end of first grade. If the child’s had too formal years of schooling, in terms of writing now, COVID, kind of, you know, put a wrench in our plans here. So, you know, another common question is, Is my child struggling due to learning loss? Or is my child child struggling due to dyslexia? are they struggling due due to both? And you know, to that one quick insight is, okay, well, let’s say they lost a year of reading instruction in school, are they still making year for year gains, you know, even if their their level is lower than where they should be. Because if they’re not able to pay us a year for your game, then there might be something more there. So I just gave you a ton of information to think about, and there’s a ton more that I could share. But the three three big warning signs for dyslexia are poor spelling, poor fluency and inability to sound out words. And that will certainly make kids be reluctant readers.

Amanda Chavez  23:51

Do they test for that in school?

Kelly Steinke  23:54

Oh, that’s a, that’s a really great question. It depends on what state you live in. Much of our country does have legislation in place to screen for dyslexia, but Wisconsin does not. So testing for dyslexia does need to occur through a private neuro psychologist or private dyslexia diagnosis.

Tania Harrison  24:16

Can I ask for those that aren’t familiar with the term dyslexia because I know, I’m aware of what that is only because I’ve had experience with friends and family who have been diagnosed, but I’m curious for those, especially if it’s not tested within our school district. And it’s not a commonly used term there either. I know that. Depending on the district, it could sort of be a word that is kind of swept under the rug a bit or just directed in a different issues surrounding that around reading might be directed in a different conversation and dyslexia does not enter the conversation. So can you just like, I guess maybe a quick summary of what that I know you gave us the symptoms or what to look for, but what does it mean?

Kelly Steinke  24:57

Yeah, well, a lot of confusion. And and myths are floating around about around dyslexia, especially in our unfortunately, especially in our Wisconsin Public Schools, because we don’t have a whole lot of legislation in place to educate, inform and protect our students who have dyslexia. And first and foremost, I do want to share that dyslexia is a synonymous term with a reading disability, you know, there are various reasons a child will struggle with reading, and some children might struggle with reading with only comprehension. But the majority of students struggle with reading in a decoding sense, meaning they can’t sound out words or read fluently, you know, enough, as they should. And, you know, so dyslexia is really the medical term for a reading disability and whatever they use in the schools will use SLD in reading a specific learning disability in reading. And so we have to view these as one in the same whether kids are diagnosed or not, because if a student struggles, because of symptomology, of dyslexia, they will require a more specialized reading intervention, more specialized reading approach,

Tania Harrison  26:14

I was going to ask about that, because I, you know, there are obviously reading interventionists within the district and within schools that are there to help get kiddos reading up to grade level and, and whatnot. But if a student does have symptoms of dyslexia, are those interventions, often successful? I guess, with those who are struggling with those dyslexia type symptoms, my guess is probably not those, those specific interventions may not be super beneficial for those kiddos.

Kelly Steinke  26:44

If our interventions were all beneficial for all of our students, we wouldn’t be in a reading crisis right now. You know, we’ve got a massive gap between where students are performing and where they should be performing. And yeah, if dyslexia, more than not, the interventions that many of our schools are using, will not bring our students up to grade level in reading, because the approach that’s recommended by the science of reading, which is, you know, the whole field of study with multiple, you know, disciplines involved is a structure literacy based intervention, or something that is really the polar opposite of usually what we’re using in our schools, not all school districts there, we do have some great, you know, school districts, Wisconsin who have shifted to more of a science of reading based approach for students who are showing the signs and symptoms of dyslexia, which is very exciting. But for all the families out there who are wondering, you know, what, if, where do I find help? What do I do? How can I tell, you know, Can I check and verify what I’m being told, I would recommend you check out the Community Resources page that I put together and shared with this team here. Because, you know, I actually just updated this form this morning. And it’s amazing. Just in the past couple years, Wisconsin State has developed lots of new organizations to support families who have students with reading disabilities, like dyslexia. You know, we’ve got a literacy task force of Wisconsin, which is an amazing organization, just full of tons of resources. We also have the reading League of Wisconsin, you know, the Wisconsin International Dyslexia Association Ranch, lots of different locally based companies who can, you know, give you some guidance, you know, that you’re looking for, of course, you know, if you look at this resource, and you’re just still overwhelmed or not real sure what to ask, you’re welcome to contact me. I’m sure anyone at the table here, you know, and ask ask them questions and, and hopefully get the answers you’re looking for.

Amanda Chavez  28:54

You make our job easy. Thanks. I think that rounds it off really well. I like that. We talked about yeah, babies and reading, and little and then all the way. Is it ever too late to get help?

Kelly Steinke  29:07

I mean, no, it’s never too late. No, no. You know, in my reading center, so I founded READ Learning out of sheer need to transform lives. It really does transform lives through literacy. And when you take a student who’s a non reader, or a very low reader, because they have a neurobiological difference, different wiring in their brain, and, you know, the teachers at school haven’t been able to reach them not not to their fault. They don’t have the training to reach these students. You know, when you you start working with these kids and their self confidence is on the ground, you know, and they feel like they’re not smart, they feel like they’re dumb. And oftentimes, if this goes on too long, they start to suffer from anxiety, possibly depression, all sorts of mental health issues can arise and no matter their age, if you can get them in For, you know, a reading intervention, we can usually bring all students up to grade level in reading. Now, their fluency might not be perfect, but it’s a very, very low percentage of kids who will only read up to about a fifth grade level in their lifetime. And it’s such a low percentage, I forget what that number is. But most kids, I mean, if their intellect is perfectly fine, there should be no problem teaching them how to read, provided you’re using the right approach. Yeah, like parents, even after they get services or you know, find help or get diagnosis. There’s still like, okay, the reading levels here, we’re trying to get here, what do you do in between, like, you’re gonna need some audio books, for sure. You’re gonna need oftentimes, I recommend like a C-Pen. So kids can scan like worksheets, tests and quizzes and put their earbuds in and this pen actually reads to them to stay in. Yeah, like independence and self advocacy, probably.

Tania Harrison  31:04

Especially for older you know, if those kids are diagnosed older than they’re already feeling so far behind and all of that. And if they’re having to be hand handheld the whole time and not able to be independent with it…

Kelly Steinke  31:15

I have a sixth grade students who is reading levels come up so much since we started working together, but we’ve got a little ways to go, there’s still a gap. And so he can’t he comes into his lesson a couple maybe a month ago, and he says Mrs. S. All right. So when I’m here with you, my reading is like really good, right? I was like, Yeah, you’re doing great. But when I go to school, and I’m reading and like science or history class, why is my reading cringy? Oh, my gosh, but I got a great answer for you. You know, when when you’re using a structured literacy approach, it’s really very much a building block process where you start with certain syllable patterns, and you build up through all seven syllable patterns, or six, whatever, you know, you build through all those different syllable patterns, I said, you got a little bit long ways to go, you know. So when you read with me, we’re reading a controlled text where you’re not given words you haven’t learned the rule base for so you can read them. But when you go to school, you’ve got everything under the sun being thrown at you. And you can’t read all those patterns yet. And it really is for a lot of kids like a light switch. You know, as soon as you explain the rule basis for decoding the word and breaking the word down the phonetics to it. And, you know, we do the decoding and encoding the spelling side and the the reading side. It makes sense. And they look at you in the go. Why, why wasn’t I told this years ago, you know, so this particular student totally made sense to him why his reading was cringy. At school, still, he’s got a little ways to go. But his family ordered him a C-Pen. You know, which is a great tool, especially for an older student who needs to develop more, you know, self accountability, and independence. And they don’t always want someone leaning over them reading to them, you’re in front of your entire class. And this is a tool where you know, the child will scan the text. It’s really not for whole books, it’s for worksheets, tests, quizzes, they’ll put their earbuds in and this cool little pen tool will read exactly to him what he scanned. 

Tania Harrison  33:31

I wonder if do any school districts utilize those? I feel like that should I mean, maybe that’s not allowed. But I feel like for some. 

Kelly Steinke  33:38

It would be a pretty cool tool for school districts, you got to ask your assistant tech teams at your schools. You know if they can access those or purchase them. For some kids, I know it’s kind of a higher end product. So sometimes schools have other resources that they try to use, but see pens pretty cool. Interesting.

Kallie Schell  33:57

So the pen sounds great. Do you have resources or tools for families with limited incomes or who don’t have the financial resources to afford something like that?

Kelly Steinke  34:06

There are a couple organizations in Wisconsin so Bright Young Dyslexics is a really cool nonprofit in Green Bay. They do a lot of fundraising to provide like technology assistance with purchasing some of these products and tuition assistance for private like tutoring type services. Leaders Supporting Readers is another organization and nonprofit that does some fundraising to support those needs as well. You guys ladies know of anyone else I mean, I’d love to be aware of more.

Amanda Chavez  34:36

I think it’s another, we’ll have to record another podcast later, but it’s that fine line right like if you if we are sharing these resources, as parents you can be advocates to going back to your school or your teacher right and ask for things? 

Tania Harrison  34:48

Sharing with your network of friends too and, and sharing within the channel as well. I think it’s probably could get a lot of conversation on the social platform about you know, tips and things that families have experienced or things that have worked or resources that they’ve utilized.

Amanda Chavez  35:04

and asking questions. 

Tania Harrison  35:06

Yeah. Questions, questions, questions, it’s okay to ask question. The dysgraphia I’m interested. So can a kiddo have dyslexia and dysgraphia? Or can they just have dysgraphia?

Kelly Steinke  35:16

Both. They could. Oftentimes they have both, but sometimes they just have one or the other. Yes, and dysgraphia. So the common denominator is spelling. Yeah, if you’re dysgraphic, you know, always a poor speller. But quite often you are if you’re dyslexic, you’re always a poor speller. So that’s like, I’d have you if you picture a Venn diagram, that middle is your spelling, your commonality, or dysgraphia, affects writing and dyslexia affects reading. Yeah, I’ll speak to your question a little bit about speech to text. A lot of students with dyslexia, or just in just learning disabilities in general, will have issues getting their words on paper. And the big roadblock oftentimes is spelling and grammar. You know, if a student also has dysgraphia, you know, or are writing and have the learning disabilities, sometimes they can’t even read their writing back to themselves, you know, because it’s not formed nicely or the slanting is off, or the spelling and so off. And in that case, it’s always recommended to use some speech to text. And Google Chrome has a nice free app, it’s an extension tool that you can add to your Google Doc account, and it just pops up a little microphone and you can voice type called Voice typing. And you know what, one thing to be aware of is, if your child is receiving a structured literacy, or it’s also known as Orton Gillingham based intervention, because they’re not reading, oftentimes, those kids can’t compose, writing, and spell everything correctly. At the same time. You know, it is a dual step process in a lot, you know, a lot ties into executive functioning skills as well, you know, just the ability to use working memory and processing speed and just keep everything organized in your mind while you’re writing. So oftentimes, your writing can become a really labor intensive activity for students who have these types of needs. And you really have to approach it in phases. So phase one, let’s just focus on your amazing ideas. Let’s allow you to get your thoughts on paper, uninhibited, we’re not gonna worry about your spelling, we’re not gonna worry about your punctuation, let it flow. You know, a lot of times parents, you know, really need to advocate for not always having spelling and grammar being, you know, the way a child’s work is always measured, but measuring their work based on their thinking, you know, in their, their thought processes and their ability to convey learned information, you know, and then you can go back and take a second step and go, alright, well, how can we dial in some of this punctuation and how can we dial in some of the spelling? Yeah, super good question. 

Amanda Chavez  38:07

We’re looking forward to sharing these resources that we mentioned here with families. As always, after the episode, we’ll share all the things that we talked about today, from books and storytimes, to where to find help for our kids that need more help.

Tania Harrison  38:20

Kallie, Kelly, thank you so much for all of your wisdom that you shared with us and we’re looking forward to reading more about it and hopefully helping some of their families with questions. Join us for our next episode. When we’ll talk about it. 

Amanda Chavez  38:34

Visit gooshkoshkids.com to continue this conversation. Thank you again to our guests, Kelly and Kelly for joining us, and thanks to our producer Liz Schultz, and our audio and video engineer Marlo Ambus. And of course to my guest host, Tania Harrison, and the support from the Women’s Fund of Oshkosh. Let’s talk again next month.

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