Wednesday, November 4, 2009

AVKO Educational Research Foundation; a TOS Crew Review

How do I teach a child with a learning disability to read? I am not a teacher by training. I had no trouble learning to read. What do I do first?

I realized a couple of years ago that the public school system is not equipped to teach my child how to read. A reading problem was lumped under all-things-autism and not addressed in the same way it would have been had she not have had an autism label.

A trip to a workshop offered by our local ISD (intermediate school district) left me picking my figurative chin from the floor as I learned what services are offered to general ed students that are often not offered to students with a label.

So, I withdrew my girl from public school and set about the task of giving her experience in pre-reading, pre-literacy foundations. The public school system expected her to arrive at school with all of those in place, assumed that all of those were in place OR that they were impossible to attain. Either way, she was not going to get those pre-reading, pre-literacy foundations at school.

Fast forward a year and a half. My girl, who was always proficient at memorizing sight words, is still a sight-word-memorizer. She guesses a lot. We've been working on comprehension of NON-text (aka wordless books and stories), but what do I do as we move into text again? We've got to work on some phonics. But how? And how will I learn to teach her? I am confident that I am capable of teaching her. I need a teacher or a guide.
Enter AVKO Educational Research Foundation and a couple of AVKO's many e-books and MP3 recordings that individuals as members ($25/year) may access at no additional charge. "The Teaching of Reading & Spelling: A Continuum from Kindergarten through College" is a 364 page e-book that is available with an AVKO membership. "The Teaching of Reading and Spelling Starting from Square One," is a 316 page e-book that walks me through teaching reading and spelling. Individually, each is priced at $59.95 in book form. Members may also access the e-version of AVKO founder Don McCabe's story, "To Teach a Dyslexic" (free w/ membership or $14.95 in book form). The e-books are a few of the first things I found when I was given a membership in order to use and review it for TOS Homeschool Crew.

There's a quick-start page here and an articles and essays page here. The articles and essays page features McCabe and other authors.

For non-members, AVKO offers a list of freebies HERE. The freebies include a wealth of material to help parents and teachers better understand reading and spelling and how to teach it to all students, whether the students struggle in areas of reading and spelling or not.

A heads up: Please read materials before giving them to your children. Some of the puns and cute questions pages contain material that I'd put in a category of adult humor and not something I want to explain to my children.

Benefits of AVKO Individual Membership

I continue to enjoy the AVKO perspective. Don McCabe gives me new insight and inspiration as I chart a course for my child. He helps me look through the eyes of my child. I like that. AVKO has an incredible amount of information for me as I learn more about how to teach my daughter. I know some folks who rave about Sequential Spelling. I don't have enough information yet to know if I'll purchase Sequential Spelling or one of the other products, but having seen the member section, for me. there is a college course or two of information available to me in it. I wish I could read it more quickly -- seems I am always interrupted. If I can't get through it all during my complimentary period for this review, I"ll purchase a membership. I think the information is worth the price for our situation. Don McCabe and AVKO are a wealth of information and experience. AVKO's giving me a new perspective and lots of information to process.

Here's what I don't like: The large books that I'm studying are in .pdf format, which means that if I want to look at the full page on my screen, the font is too small to actually read, even with my reading glasses. And when I enlarge the view, I cut off part of the page and the scrolling feature leaves a lot to be desired. They're a little bit cumbersome. I wish the books were set up like the digital magazines I'm learning to like, where I can turn pages like I turn pages in a real book in my hands.

To read my Crewmates' reviews about this product, go HERE.


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