Phonological Skills Games
"The sixth Sheik's sixth sheep's sick." - Tongue twister
Background:There isn't any dedicated brain area for reading. We have areas devoted to hearing, seeing, and understanding spoken language, but reading is itself a relatively new evolutionary skill, so recent that 20% of us still have not developed it. "Phonological problems" is the default diagnosis given for poor reading skills. It is not a hearing problem but reflects difficulty telling sounds apart and putting sounds and symbols (i.e., letters) together. More recently, visual and auditory processing deficits have also been implicated in reading difficulties as well.
Free e-book!Download this innovative workbook that lets you help your child learn "visual reading," a method that teaches word decoding simultaneously with phonics. Contents copyright by Roger Lee
- My strongest recommendation here is the iLs Program (Integrated listening system), a program of neurological exercises using music and movement simultaneously to reorganize and revitalize neural connections. This approach improves reading by improving a child's ability to perceive and organized information, resulting in less confusion and better comprehension. Visit their website for more information.
- Fast ForWord is an expensive in-school program which is credited with correcting the relative sizes of the left and right hemisphere areasÂ related to language in the brain. This result was achieved under controlled study conditions in about 8 weeks. Despite these neurological changes, however, recent studies have found little transfer to reading skills. One study found that computer games teaching math and science were just as effective atÂ improving general language skills when given under similar time frames, and a literature review found little connection between the improved phonological awareness stimulated by such programs and reading ability.*
- Earobics is another school based intervention, and was one of the methods compared to FastForword in the studies mentioned above. Earobics also provides the free site, Game Goo. I've included the link down here instead of above because the games seem a bit scattered, they're aimed at really little kids and I'm not crazy about the quality, though you may want to try them anyway.
- Reader Rabbit is a software series that uses games and a story to teach phonics. It is aimed at early readers, not as remediation, though it may work for that too. My older son loved it, did everything in order and learned a lot; my other one guessed and cheated his way through and learned nothing. Which goes to show that when it comes to some of these things, personality is king.
- Sound Reading (soundreading.com) is an interesting game based series similar to Hearbuilder, but they don't give free peeks so it leaves me suspicious (there is a 30 day trial, but I'm wary of those).
- Computer-based auditory training... (Loo et al., 2010)
- The effects of Fast ForWord... poor reading skills (Gillam et al., 2009)
- The Efficacy of Fast ForWord... controlled trial (Gillam et al., 2008)