In spite of all the advances we’ve made in understanding the learning process, struggling readers are still with us in large numbers. And there is nothing as painful to see as a struggling reader who has come to detest the process of learning to read. As we work to help those struggling learners, often we resort to doing things that on paper seem that they should work, but which in reality bring us no closer to our goal.
And the downside for the struggling reader is that the more “stuff” we try, the more chances they have to fail again and again. The message that is imprinted on their minds and hearts is that they are failures and unable to learn to read.
In this scenario, what is called for is something friendly and kind, attractive and vastly different from what the struggling reader is used to seeing in school.
Why Use SnapWords®?
At first glance, they offer a little flicker of hope to the child. They are different, colorful, engaging, funny at times, and easy to capture in the blink of an eye. Here are 7 reasons to reach for SnapWords® at the first sign of trouble.
Capturing the Whole Thing in a Glance
Children who struggle to learn to read most frequently cannot handle the process we put them through as we teach them to read. They struggle to manage the various details involved in letter shapes and sounds and then stringing them together into a word that makes sense. By the time they have managed to figure out what the word means, they have forgotten where they were in the sentence and very often a couple of minutes later when confronted with the same word, they begin the process all over again. In other words, all the words they don’t know instantly on sight are chores to decode. SnapWords® are designed so that new and struggling readers can capture the whole word and its meaning as instantly as snapping a picture with a camera.
Using a Different Part of the Brain – Struggling readers most frequently are visual learners. The significance of this is that they learn by snapping mental pictures – not by working through rules and by memorizing facts. They are utilizing different regions in the brain than when they just try and memorize strings of letters and their sounds. The beauty of the visual cortex and how it works with learning is that it is an instant thing. We see an image and it is imprinted on our minds immediately. The things we want these students to learn and remember will be best transmitted to their minds using visuals that are embedded in the material. SnapWords® have done this for you. The visual, the body motion, and the spoken aspect of SnapWords® combine to target several regions in the brain, making for a rich learning experience.
Experiencing Success Quickly – Children who have struggled with learning to read desperately need to experience some success. They need to learn that they ARE capable of learning to read; the way they learn is most efficient, they can understand how they learn, and they can apply this knowledge to learning across the curriculum. A child who is struggling will be empty of belief in their abilities – this lack will stick with them throughout their lives. On the other hand, experiencing success quickly will carry over into other areas of their lives – they will gain a sense of empowerment and competence that will propel them towards reaching for their dreams.
Comprehending the Meaning of Words – When you use SnapWords®, the image embedded in the word immediately shows the child what the word means. For many struggling readers, the very process of reading is so tedious that they come to believe that just deciphering the words is the goal of reading – and they often completely miss the fact that the words are simply vehicles that carry a story/meaning. The colorful images in SnapWords® show a little story. On the backs of the cards are sentences that elaborate on the word picture on the front of the card. It is like you are telling a mini-story when you show a child a SnapWords® card.
Mastering the Most Frequently-Used Words – Our collection of SnapWords® will act like a rocket that will propel your struggling readers into competence in reading. The reason for this is that we’ve carefully compiled a list of over 640 words that make up the greatest percentage of the words kids will find as they read books. Many of the words are impossible to sound out, and having a child be able to recognize the words instantly will make reading a passage much easier; they will be left with only a few words that they haven’t already learned – many of which will be easy to figure out based on the context of the story. I have personally experienced bringing struggling readers up to grade level in unbelievably short amounts of time.
Engaging Active Learners – For those children who can’t sit still for longer than a nanosecond, SnapWords® are a life saver! “Blink!” and they have it. I have been known to crawl around on the floor in pursuit of a very active struggling reader trying to get their attention for a second, long enough to show them a SnapWords® card. Once they caught a glimpse of the card, I had them; they would grab the card and stare at it for a bit. So I learned to take advantage of the magnetic quality of SnapWords® and made games that included SnapWords® to be paired with plain sight word cards. The child would grab a SnapWords® card and hold it in one hand as they scanned the floor for the matching plain sight word card. They would grab the second card with their non-occupied hand and make the match. In just seconds they'd worked through matching up all the words.
Making it Easy to Link Stylized Words with Plain Words - Because the goal is of course to transition children as quickly as possible from the picture side of the SnapWords® card to the plain word as it would appear in a book, we have designed SnapWords® to include a plain-font version of the sight word on the reverse of the card. As I stated, the goal is to transition rapidly from picture to plain word. Having the plain word “stuck to” the sight word picture is a real helpful time-saver!
Of all the benefits of using SnapWords® with your struggling readers, we can’t fail to mention the issue of cost. It can be very costly to remediate struggling readers. There are the costs of tutors and the materials purchased and tried that possibly didn’t work. There is the discouragement of putting your hopes in a new product or a new learning environment only to find that basically the approach was the same: all dependent upon learning sounds, sounding out words and using drill and memorization to try and gain a sight word vocabulary. Try something radically different and see if the results are not also dramatically different.
What are you waiting for? Get started today and see an energized child by year's end! As always, please contact us if you have any questions about your particular learner and what you might need to give them the most significant boost in learning!