I’ve been having trouble reading medicine bottles. Let’s see…..how many teaspoons do our two turtles need to make the snot go away? Hmmm….I have no idea. Better find a teenager who can read the label to me. I’ve stood in the medicine aisle at Walmart, pretended that I could read the label, and tossed medicine into my cart. My world was becoming fuzzy.
I went to the eye doctor and the verdict was as I expected. I needed bifocals. The first day I wore them, I almost lost my mind. The world suddenly had this crazy line through the middle of it. That line was my enemy. I fought with that line for a couple of weeks, but it eventually became my friend because it was the reason that I could read again.
What would my life be like if my optometrist hadn’t been able to fix the problem? What if I had to spend the rest of my life not able to read medicine bottles? or newspapers? or books? I suddenly realized how Mikayla & Hope might have been feeling about learning to read.
Reading has been extremely difficult for the girls. They learned all of the letters and all of the letter sounds when they were 6 years old. We’ve tried 3 different phonics programs over the last 3 years and none of them have helped. They can’t process all of the sounds and put them together to read a word. Phonics was not the right prescription to help them learn to read.
The professional who tested the girls last year told me to forget the phonics and focus on sight words. Sight words make up about 65 to 85 percent of any general text. So, I decided to take her advice and focus on sight words. I googled sight words and the heavens opened up. The word SnapWords came up. What are SnapWords?
As I started reading the SnapWords website, I was blown away. It said that visual learners think in pictures. They have trouble understanding language unless there is a picture involved. With SnapWords the whole word is captured as a picture. Could this be the answer that I’ve been looking for? Our girls are visual learners and phonics has been a nightmare. So I decided to give SnapWords a try.
We started with 6 words. Within a few days, they knew all of them. We reviewed the words for 2 weeks before I added more words. I’ve learned that slow and steady works best with them. It’s not a good idea to move too quickly. After I was sure they knew the first 6 words, I added 6 more words. They know 18 words when I show them the picture side of the card. They know half of the words when I show them the backside of the card which has the word without a picture. SnapWords is the prescription that they needed to learn how to read.
Phonics made our girls world fuzzy and they made no progress. Phonics magnified their auditory processing weakness. When we changed the focus to sight words they began to make progress. SnapWords have magnified their visual processing strength. As we have focused on their strength, they have begun to experience success. The girls have never asked me to pull a phonics program out of the closet. But they ask for SnapWords. They avoid things that make them feel like a failure and they want to do the things that make them feel like a success. Isn’t that the way that most of us are?
I can’t help but wonder if the girls feel as relieved as I did when I got my bifocals. Are they thinking the same thing that I was thinking? I can see clearly now. I couldn’t read but now I can!