top of page
Children Reading the Holy Bible



According to the International Dyslexia Association, dyslexia is "a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.”


Understanding Dyslexia


Teaching Strategies that Work


How to Solve Reading Problems

Dyslexia is a brain-based learning difference that affects a person's abilities to read, because it is an auditory processing problem that leads to a phonemic awareness deficit. It is the ability to work with words on a sound level. Phonemic awareness forms the base of the reading pyramid. This means that phonemic awareness must first be developed before a would-be reader can move onto decoding, which is when we attach sounds (phonemes) to symbols (letters).

The good news is that dyslexic students can become successful readers.  In order for this to happen, the deficits that exist at the phonemic awareness level must be resolved.  For many students, this can be accomplished in the regular classroom if they have kindergarten and grade one teachers who are using a proven phonemic awareness program such as Jollyphonics.

Thanks to the work of Dr. Sally Shaywitz, we know that in schools where early reading instruction is provided by using proven programs, the rate of reading failure drops from 30% to 5%.  The 5% of students who continue to struggle require an intensive, systematic, proven intervention program given by a qualified individual.  Early interventions have a much higher rate of success.


Through her studies with brain scans, Dr. Sally Shaywitz has proven that after being given a systematic, proven, intensive reading remediation program the brain of a dyslexic student will look like that of an unimpaired reader while reading.  This shows that it is possible to rewire a dyslexic brain for reading. 

In the following video, I will demonstrate how to teach a reading remediation lesson using the Dyslexia Training Institute's program and Orton-Gillingham teaching methods.


Elizabeth Crawford's article, "Teaching All Students to Read: Practices from Reading First Schools with Strong Intervention Outcomes," provides terrific information about the qualities and systems present in school that do an effective job at solving reading problems in students.

The Reading Rockets website offers some excellent resources in the area of phonemic awareness.

We know that dyslexia is a phonemic awareness deficit.  So how can classroom teachers or parents help kids to develop phonemic awareness? 

Tip #1  Drop the "Uh"

When you are teaching phonemes, make sure that you are saying them correctly.  Click here for a video review of how to say the phonemes.

Tip #2  Teach Rhyming

Rhyming is the first stage of phonemic awareness so it is a gret place to start when teaching phonemic awareness.

Tip #3 Use Multisensory Teaching Tools

The idea is that you want to use a strong kinesthetic brain pathway to ensure that the information that you are sending is able to be received by the student.

Tip #4 Intervene Early

Early interventions have a much higher success rate so it is critical to identify and treat reading failure as early as possible.

Tip #5: Teach Phonemic Awareness Drill

The Dyslexia Training Institute, which runs out of the University of San Diego, created the Phonemic Awareness Drill. This drill incorporates the various activities that are proven to develop phonemic awareness. In the following video, I will explain how to do the drill.

Works Cited

Audet, Shawna, director. How to Use Puppets to Teach Phonemic Awareness. YouTube, Flying Cat Academy, 6 Feb. 2021, Accessed 1 Jan. 2022.

Audet, Shawna, director. O-G Lesson Structure. YouTube, YouTube, 24 Feb. 2021, Accessed 1 Jan. 2022.

Audet, Shawna, director. Phonemic Awareness. YouTube, YouTube, 26 July 2021, Accessed 1 Jan. 2022.

Audet, Shawna. “Rockpile Spelling.” YouTube, YouTube, 29 Jan. 2019,

Crawford, Elizabeth. “Teaching All Students to Read: Practices from Reading First Schools with Strong Intervention Outcomes.” Reading Rockets, WETA, 7 Nov. 2013,

Ellis, Edwin S. “How Now Brown Cow: Phoneme Awareness Activities.” Reading Rockets, WETA, 2 July 2019,

IDA Board of Directors. “Definition of Dyslexia.” International Dyslexia Association, International Dyslexia Association, 16 July 2018,

Olsen, Jan. “Handwriting without Tears.” Learning Without Tears, Learning Without Tears, 30 June 2021,

RRFTS, director. 44 Phonemes. YouTube, Rollins Center for Language, 7 Nov. 2017, Accessed 1 Jan. 2022.

Shaywitz, Sally E.  Overcoming Dyslexia: A New and Complete Science-Based Program for Reading Problems at Any Level.  New York: A.A. Knopf, 2004. Print.

“What Is Jollyphonics?” Jolly Phonics, Jollyphonics Technologies, 2020,

bottom of page