Fluent reading and accurate spelling is dependent on people being able create a mental image of a word in their mind’s eye. Not the shape of it, the actual word. Ask anyone who is skilled, to spell a difficult word and you will see their eyes look up as they spell the word. Ask #richardbranson, #jamieoliver or any of our other famous dyslexics and you will find they have never learnt this skill. There is nothing wrong with their brain; just a skill they never learnt.
The shortcut here that would save a fortune and reduce the personal grief of so many families is to ensure that you check whether children are developing this skill in reception and year 1 and teach them if they are not. Alternatively simply teach all children to create a mental image of the word at the same time as they learn their phonics. The teaching takes no longer and progress is dramatically faster.
Whatever scheme you teach children, those who naturally progress to creating mental images will be successful. Those who don’t make this transition will never become fluent readers and may even develop Dyslexic symptoms as they get more stressed.
English is not a perfectly phonetic language with homophones, silent letters, words that break the rules etc, so a mental image of each word together with phonic skills for new words is a great combination. But most of the words our children struggle with they have seen repeatedly, their only mistake is not to create a mental image of them, after seeing the word a couple of times.
Do contact me if you would like to know more. I am currently interviewing celebrities about their particular dyslexic traits and whether they would like to learn new skills to change them.
Olive Hickmott, Empowering Learning, Hertfordshire