This is Why Dyslexic Students Struggle​

During a recent professional development training, I came across a fantastic graphic that visually demonstrates exactly why reading is so challenging to learn, especially for students with learning differences like dyslexia.


It's called the reading rope, and it was created by Hollis Scarborough, a leading researcher of early language development.


You can see it here (scroll down to the end; I don't have permission to use it in this newsletter).


When you look at the image, you notice that several skills are braided together into two different sections which are also woven together.


The first piece is language comprehension, and the strands here are our background knowledge, vocabulary, understanding of the structure of language, verbal reasoning skills, and our understanding of literacy concepts like genres or subtopics.


The second piece is word recognition. You've heard me talk about these pieces often: phonological awareness (knowing what sounds letters make, the names of letters, the concept of syllables, etc.), decoding (being able to break down words to read and pronounce them), and sight recognition of familiar words.


These two pieces are then connected over time to create a skilled, fluent reader.


Look at all the things happening simultaneously when we read! It's a great deal of work and it can make us quite tired if it is something challenging for us. This is why so many dyslexic students tell me they don't like to read; it's just so darn hard! And if they aren't getting explicit instruction in all of these pieces, reading will feel like an immense chore.


The next time you feel defeated, frustrated, confused, or down about how your child is performing with reading, remember the reading rope. If they have the right supports in place, they will reach fluency eventually, and it will feel really good for you both.


Photo by Start Digital on Unsplash