Preparing Your Child for a Music Career

When it comes to raising children, one of the hardest things has got to be encouraging your child to follow his or her dreams. After all, it quickly dawns on us all how far fetched it can be to live those dreams. However, many of us only have these dreams because others have lived them. It’s possible, but only if you give it everything you’ve got. So, getting your child off on the right foot is important. If your child has ambitions of singing, for example, here are some tips to foster that ambition.

First and foremost, a very public activity like singing or playing music requires a higher than average level of confidence. Public speaking is the number 1 fear among Americans, after all. However, there are some simple ways to boost your child’s confidence. First and foremost, you’ll want them dressed nicely. You’ll want them to feel like they look good, which, in turn, makes them feel good about themselves. However, dressing them too nicely might make them the target of bullying, so keep it casual. Something from Children’s Place will work nicely.

Another important facet of preparing a child to follow his or her dreams is to have them practice. Here’s where it gets tricky. From a motivational standpoint, there’s little worse for passion than for it to become mandatory. You’ll have to strike a balance between making them practice and a more hands off approach. You’ll want to present them with opportunities, then, and lightly nudge them towards taking said opportunities. For instance, a school talent show might be a great thing to practice for and great practice on its own merits, but it can be hard to make a kid feel like participating if you tell them they have to.

Is Tinnitus Sound Therapy the Right Choice for Me?

More and more forms of therapy to help treat Tinnitus are coming available on the market. Some of the treatment options have been proven beneficial, while others have not been determined as to how great they really are. There are more studies that need to be done to know whether the additional options are a possibility to help treat your case of Tinnitus.

Treating Tinnitus with sound therapy is one of the easiest procedures and it is affordable for just about every budget. It has been proven effective time and time again for sufferers to help reduce the symptoms associated with Tinnitus. Sound therapy is used as a way to help treat the symptoms of Tinnitus through a special music that has been composed of a frequency that is specifically designed to help stimulate the brain. It also helps to provide the necessary rehabilitation your ears need.

The anticipated results are that the ears are going to get used to hearing the higher sounds that are sent to your brain directly. Essentially, you are reprogramming your brain to be able to tune in to the normal noises in everyday life around you, and tuning out the sounds associated with Tinnitus.

You will be listening to the music for your sound therapy through headphones connected to an MP3 player or CD player. During the course of treatment, you are going to experience various types of sounds, including: clicks and pauses. These clicks and pauses will be mixed along with different soundscapes and music.

The variety of sounds is going to be customized to your individual case; however, you can always purchase a generic CD for treatment or download it onto your MP3 player. There are some people who opt for the least expensive options to begin with before proceeding further with treatment. When you think about the cost associated with therapy, sound therapy is one of the best options to help save you money and restore your hearing.

Some individuals have found relief from their Tinnitus within a few weeks, but others have taken up to six months to experience the true benefits. Regardless of how long it is taking, it is recommended that you stick with your treatment plan once you begin.

This will help to contain the symptoms that you are dealing with already. One of the best ways for you to begin your therapy is during the night as you are going to sleep, unless your doctor recommends otherwise. Beginning your sessions as you are preparing for sleep will help you eliminate any of the distractions around you. It helps to allow your brain to be able to comprehend what is going on and absorb the sounds that it is hearing. There are a lot of people who believe that this is a beneficial way to learn subconsciously while you are relaxed.

It is imperative that those suffering with Tinnitus understand how treatment with sound is different from just attempting to cover up their symptoms. The whole point of attempting to cover up Tinnitus symptoms is an attempt to drown out any of the sounds associated with Tinnitus through increasing the level of sounds or music. If you were to begin doing this as a way to cover up your symptoms, you would eventually cause the symptoms of Tinnitus to become worse.

Sound and music therapy have worked for a lot of people, but there is no guarantee that it is going to work for you. Each and every person is unique in their own way, so there is no way to know how everyone is going to respond to Tinnitus therapy. If you try Tinnitus sound therapy and it doesn’t work for you, there are plenty of other options from which to choose. Eventually you will find the relief that you are looking for, if you remain steadfast at searching for the right treatment option for you.

How long will I need to use sound therapy?

The majority of people will only use sound therapy when their Tinnitus is bothering them, but as the Tinnitus is masked they will not have to enlist the therapy as often. If you are one of the individuals who have to wear a sound generator, you may only need to wear it until you are able to manage your condition better. Once you have been able to establish a sleep pattern you may find that you are no longer going to need a bedside sound generator.

What are the different types of sound therapy?

There are a few different types of sound therapy and the key is finding the one that is going to work the best for your specific needs. A lot of people find that they work best with a sound that is not too demanding or difficult to listen to. Environmental sound provides you with background noises that you are going to hear in everyday life, such as: traffic in the distance, wind blowing through the trees or a busy office setting. There are a lot of times when you can find the therapy you need by opening your window.

Bedside generators sit next to your bed on a small table and give you the choice of various sounds, all at the touch of a button. You will be able to adjust the volume levels based on your individual hearing needs. In the evening you may find rest with a peaceful sound that will help you get to sleep. If you leave the noise on throughout the evening, it will provide you with the distraction from your Tinnitus if you wake up in the early hours when there is no noise. There are some sound generators on the market that can provide you with the sounds you need through a pillow speaker. This is perfect for those with partners who are trying to rest.

Hearing Aids are very beneficial for those with hearing loss. They are going to give you a type of sound therapy that will make it easier for you to tolerate the normal sounds in the everyday world. A lot of people will find that their condition is easier to deal with when their hearing aids are turned on. These have also been beneficial when used in conjunction with a loop system.

CDs and MP3 players can offer you a lot of different types of sounds. You can even check some out from your local library to see how well they work for you. There are also websites that you can go to in order to download some options to see which ones you like best.

Buddhist Sound Healing

Stay in the moment, go with the flow, let go of attachment.

These are concepts very familiar to all yoga students and spiritual seekers. I like to think this makes us ‘now’ people, remaining in the present as best we can. Truly… being… present. Sound healing is thousands of years old, and while it has taken many forms it has consistently been about being present within sound. Sound has always been integral to spiritual transformation because it transforms your experience of the moment. As a musician, I have found that concentrating on sound is a simple and effective means to becoming comfortable with my self, regardless of the emotions I may be experiencing. Music offers solace in subtle and mysterious ways beyond any scientific or rational meaning.

In the language of yoga, the purpose or the effect of continuous nada sadhana on the mind is ananda – extreme bliss. Nada, or sound, is divided into two parts – aahada and anhada, heard and unheard. Heard means that which is possible for you to hear ‘through the physical ears’, and unheard means ‘felt’, which is the condition of nada before it is musically shaped and regularised. You know how you can feel a piece of music you really love. It gives you joy or it allows you to feel sadness or you kick out the jams. Our life force or consciousness creates the unheard but felt vibration in a way that communicates without language or cultural barriers. It is the energetic gift of music, and music created with the intention to benefit is healing.

Buddhist Sound Healing helps to open the body’s energy centers. Vocal sound can be used as an object of meditation, and listening to music can become a method of integrating the experience as a form of healing. Music can be acutely therapeutic because it activates many parts of the brain, changing its wave patterns and arousing a variety of emotions.

A recent article in the New York Times made these interesting points about the efficacy of sound in healing: “Sound and music enter the healing equation from several directions: It may alter cellular functions through energetic effects; it may entrain biological systems…., it may be calming to the mind and therefore the body, it may have emotional effects which in turn help to regulate the immune system – the healer within.” Dr. Mitchell Gaynor, M.D. Dr. Gaynor distinguishes between curing and healing. To “cure” means physically to fix something, whereas “healing” refers to wholeness, a union of the mind, body and spirit. Dr. Gaynor, who has an oncology practice in Manhattan, considers sound healing integrative medicine: not an alternative to science but a complement to it.

Why use the voice? If you liberate the voice you liberate the body, mind, and spirit. The voice connects the heart and mind. Recent sound and energy research has demonstrated, through the study of human blood pressure, heart rate and brain waves, that no sound has as profound an effect upon the body as the human voice.

In Buddhist sound healing sessions we use vocal overtoning as a meditation technique, as an energetic healing technique, and in musical performance. We explore the energetic qualities of sound with many unanticipated, serendipitous moments of bliss and discovery.

It is my belief that the phenomenal growth of the yoga movement in North America over the past ten years is a reflection of our evolving consciousness. More and more beings are practicing yoga to open their bodies and heal. Buddhist sound healing is very much of the moment, a practice that speaks to the needs and yearning of yogis and yoginis everywhere. It is a practice that assists in adapting to the changing frequencies of the planet. I don’t believe this can be adequately explained or comprehended, but I know that it can be experienced.

Sound healing is the sound of now, for now people everywhere.

The world and all its beings are the container and the contained. We are an expression of light and elemental flux. Through intention we can use our minds and sound to transform our suffering and improve our quality of life. The benefit we experience is broadcast from the center of the mandala throughout space and time. We accomplish benefit for all when we intentionally heal ourselves.

Our voices enter your body with the intention to heal. The mandalas are energetic medicine created for the specific weeks in which they are released. we create fresh sounds for now people.

Padma Soundsystem sound healing uses vocal sound as an object of meditation and listening to music as a method of integrating the experience as a form of healing. Music can be acutely therapeutic because it activates many parts of the brain, changing its wave patterns and arousing a variety of emotions, according to Dale Taylor, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Taylor has spent years studying the remedial effects of music.

“Music itself is a very positive experience; it stimulates the limbic system, the emotional center of the brain,” says Taylor, the director of the university’s music therapy department.

Why use the voice?

If you liberate the voice you liberate the body, mind, and spirit. The voice connects the heart and mind.

Recent sound and energy research has shown us, through the study of human blood pressure, heart rate and brain waves, that no sound has as profound an effect upon the body as the human voice.

In Buddhist sound healing sessions, vocal overtoning is used as a meditation technique, as an energetic healing technique, and in musical performance. We explore the energetic qualities of sound with many unanticipated, serendipitous moments of bliss and discovery. This is a lot of fun!

Buddhist Sound Healing Process:

Setting Intention: We gather together a group of bright lights and help them to reveal their wondrous luminosity! Ideally we come together in a space used for spiritual practice with ‘live’ acoustics. (Hardwood floors and vaulted ceilings are nice… natural lighting or candle light is preferred.) We begin with discussing the importance of setting intention and encouraging everyone to be mindful of their personal intention in participating.

The sound wave created by a person singing or playing an instrument will carry information to the receiver of the sound.

Intentions address the following questions:

Why are we doing what we are doing?

What do we hope to achieve?

What purpose are we fulfilling?

An intention can be thought of as a goal. Other synonyms for the word “intention” include “purpose, aim, aspiration, resolve.” Clear intentions hold tremendous creative power. In the areas of personal growth, relationship, career, and live choices, clarity of intention is an indispensable tool for achieving what we envision. A clear intention focuses our energies and makes it easy for us to discern which of the choices we encounter are on track for what we want to achieve, and which ones are not.

In the absence of clear intention, our life is shaped by circumstances, by our desires and fears, and by the intentions of other people. The absence of a clear intention can affect a day at work, a weeklong vacation, or even a whole decade of our life.

Our entire life is shaped by our thoughts. We can create anything we want with the creative energy of thought. When we truly get this we understand that we are not victims, that we are empowered to create whatever it is that we want. We then begin to watch what we think. Rather than let our thoughts control us, we begin to take control of our thoughts and we begin to create intentions.

When creating an intention, it is helpful to make clear, concise statements. State your intention in the present tense in a positive way. For example, if your intention is to live coffee free you might write, “I am living coffee free.” You would not write, “I am going to stop drinking coffee.”

Connecting with conscious intention – what thoughts are pervading your body’s frequency or vibration right now? We share how intention or lack of it determines our experience of life. Setting intention will include a discussion of the Buddhist practice of mindfulness, constantly bringing the mind back to the intention to be of benefit to all beings. We will also discuss the healing power of practicing loving kindness and compassion.

Buddhist compassion is the result of knowing one is part of a greater whole and is interdependent and connected to that whole. Creating the Nada Yoga sacred circle, individuals become a spontaneous community joined by sound, with the intention to benefit each other and all beings through this practice. We suggest focusing on the following when listening to Padma Soundsystem:

Intention to remain present

Intention to heal myself with sound

Intention to benefit those I love

Intention to benefit all beings

Intention to remember who I truly am

Meditation: Loving kindness and compassion play such an important role in the Buddhist approach to spirituality that we can say that a genuine practice of the Dharma is actually based on the development of these qualities. The teachings always emphasize that, unless we practice and integrate these qualities into our everyday lives, it will be utterly impossible to attain enlightenment and liberation. Moreover, without such an integration of loving-kindness and compassion, not only are we failing to benefit others, we are actually harming them, whether directly or indirectly.

We will spend some time generating the mind of loving kindness and compassion. We will discuss awareness of the various mental states from laxity to excitation, with the ideal to maintain a calm mind somewhere in the middle. We will be using the simple to learn method of counting the breath to calm the mind and listen to the body. This meditation method is appropriate for beginners and experienced meditators alike. We will take this time to become aware of our interconnection through collective breath, the healing power of practicing together, the power of conscious intention and focusing the mind with affirmation.

The idea is to focus the mind on sound, to literally meditate on sound. Through practice one can create a peaceful mind, focusing on the sound rather than discursive thought. This becomes a healing in itself as we free our minds from repetitive thought patterns that cause suffering.

We believe that senses can be improved at all stages of life, and that enhanced sensory perception is the fruit of any spiritual journey.

Listening to Heal: We rarely take the time to consider the gift of hearing, and yet it plays such an integral part in our experience of life. Buddhist sound healing is the yoga of listening, improving how we listen to our world and ourselves. Most musicians will tell you the art of making music as a group begins with listening to each other, really listening creates a sound greater than the sum of its parts. In Nada Yoga we spend our time together working out our listening skills, in a gym for the ears. The bio-harmonic architecture is breathtaking!

During the last half of the twentieth century, Alfred A. Tomatis, a French M.D., researcher and philosopher, defined the ear as a primary organ for multiple physical, emotional and neurological development responses. Not only is the ear and its complex ability to send information to the brain and the body primary for hearing and sound perception, it establishes balance and equilibrium. It is also primary for the development of verticality, spatiality, laterality and language development.

Tomatis’s innovative research is based on the ear’s ability to discriminate between sounds it selects to hear and the ability to tune out sounds that are unwanted. The ear’s ability to listen and focus, select sounds spatially and regulate auditory information as it is perceived by the brain, has become the theme in over a hundred centers worldwide dedicated to assist children and adults with speech and communication disorders, attention deficit disorders, head injuries, and autism.

We believe these concepts help to explain the benefits of Buddhist Sound Healing, as listening and singing is a simple path to restored equilibrium and moments of sheer joy. We also believe that experiencing music helps to integrate and amplify the work we do.

We get most benefit from this practice when we focus our mind and really listen to our voice, and open our ears to the voices all around us. These are voices raised with the intention to help each other heal.

Buddhist sound healing is the therapeutic application of sound frequencies to the body/mind of a person with the intention of bringing them into a state of harmony and health. The dictionary defines ‘harmony’ as ‘congruity of parts to their whole or to one another’. ‘Health’ is defined as ‘the state of being bodily and mentally vigorous and free of disease’.

A Great Way to Help Kids Learn Letters and Sounds

Most researchers, teachers, and parents will agree that letter and letter sound knowledge is a basic component to be weaved in while children are beginning to learn to read. In this article you will be provided with great examples of how a teacher creates and hooks into children’s prior knowledge when presenting new letters and letter sounds.
The Class (or family) Book: A very effective way to draw the learner’s attention to the initial letters and sounds in their names and the names of their peers or families.


o Individual class pictures or family pictures
o Card stock paper
o Glue
o Permanent marker


On one side of each page attach a picture of a class member or family member. Under the picture write some simple predictable text such as, “This is {name}.” Highlight or make bold the first letter of each name {Joey}. Over each picture attach a flap of colored paper (that the children cannot see through) to hide the picture. The children make predictions about whose picture is under the flap by the letter and letter sound beginning the name. Put the pages together and bind them into a book.


o The teacher reads the entire text to the children.
o The book is left out for the children to explore.
o When introducing a new letter/sound the teacher will zero in on The Class Book page with the student’s name that begins with that letter (later they can zero in on final and lastly medial letters.)

For example the teacher would point to the books and say “This is ‘S’..” and pause, allowing children to make predictions about whose picture may be under the flap based on that first letter. Lift the flap and confirm or negate their predictions.

o Place the child’s name, beginning with the featured letter which was found in The Class Book on the word wall.
o Have the children practice forming the featured letter with clay, in the air, on the floor, each other’s backs etc. Make sure they are not reversing the letter!
o Student should then record the featured letter in his/her own personal alphabet book. The children draw a picture of the child whom they have been reading about in the class book. S/he may also draw or write any other words s/he knows that begins with that letter. Don’t insist on any one way, let each child find their own way to demonstrate the letter in a way that is meaningful for him/her.
o When teaching letter formation, it is important to provide the students with a consistent way for them to recall how to form letters easily. Emphasize that almost all letters start at the top and go down. Teach the exception, some letters are formed by first making the letter ‘C’: such as, O, Q, G, etc.
o Some teachers find it helpful to have a clock on display and make reference to the starting place for those ‘C’ letters as “2 on the clock.”
o It may also be useful to leave pages at the end of the class book for possible letter combinations that may come up (Sherry).
o As letter confusions arise they should be dealt with. Most letter confusions will not disappear with the passage of time in your lowest readers and writers.

They will only become habituated and increasingly problematic for the learner. The most common confusion and most important to get under control due to the frequency with which it occurs in both reading and writing is b/d. The most useful approach I have found is to simply record these next to their corresponding uppercase letter and have it prominently displayed for frequent reference by the learner (Bb, Dd ). For older readers still exhibiting this confusion it sometimes helps to ask the child if s/he can make an uppercase ‘B’. If the student does this without reversing them, explain that all they need to do is picture (or write) an uppercase B and remove the top loop and presto! It’s a lower case b!

Children will learn at a markedly increased rate when you foster a “can do” attitude in them. You are creating “prior knowledge” in them in your making of the class book. Research shows that hooking in to prior knowledge is invaluable for all children’s learning in all subjects. Many children come to school without a lot of prior knowledge so it is imperative that the instructor find ways to create that for them. The Class Book is one great way.

A Really Painful Knee – Support Your Knee Before Cracking, Popping, Or Crackling Sounds Begin

Are you ever worried about one (or both) of your knees?

People who spend most of their day on their feet understand how they can become sore and how difficult this may be when trying to do their jobs. Those who work in restaurants, for example, are people who are constantly moving, walking around and standing at tables or kitchen counters, preparing food. Knees are one of the areas which are affected the most when people spend all day on their feet because these joints can be rather delicate and become sore or stiff rather easily. Learning how to take care of a really painful knee can be a top priority when someone has injured themselves and must continue working through the pain.

When someone is standing all day in one location, such as a cook at a restaurant, a great deal of pressure is being placed on their knees. The hardness of the ground can make their feet sore rather quickly and the weight of their bodies will press down harder. This will affect the knees as these joints are what connect the bulk of the body to the lower portion of the legs.

Not getting a chance to sit down and relax means that the knees will be subjected to this constant pressure and may become sore very quickly. A really painful knee can be very difficult to move, bend, or even place weight on, making doing one’s job very difficult.

The servers in a restaurant can also suffer from a really painful knee. These individuals spend most of their time moving around the building, picking up food and taking it out to the tables. Not only do they use their knees often with walking, bending down to tables and picking things from the floor, but they are subjected to the same constant pressure as the cooks. On top of this, restaurants can often suffer from spills at different times. One of these servers could easily fall, twisting a knee in the process. This can cause quite a bit of damage to these workers.

An Easy Solution To A Really Painful Knee

One thing which any of these restaurant workers may wish to look into during their next encounter with a really painful knee is using a knee brace to help keep their knees from experiencing any more pain. When a knee is sore or painful, a person may constantly move it around to try to relieve the pain. This may end up causing only more damage as the knee could be twisted in a direction which only heightens the stress on this joint.

The knee brace, however, will help a really painful knee by keeping it in a position which will help to relieve this pain it is feeling. The knee brace which a person uses can be especially helpful to someone who is just beginning to experience knee pain as it will help to keep the knee in a position where it won’t cause more stress on the joint. A knee brace can also be useful to anyone who is recovering from a really painful injury, as it will help to keep the knee on track as it heals and becomes as strong as it once was.

PS. Remember self-diagnosis is not a good idea. Speak with your physician about medical advice on your particular situation.

Cornet Playing – Producing a Quality Sound

In my opinion the most important of all your playing objectives should be to be able to play with a quality sound. You can play as fast as you like and be technically brilliant, but if you don’t have a good sound it will be your Achilles heel, people will lose interest in your performance. Good tonal qualities are achieved by practicing long notes and listening to yourself. The embouchure should be match fit and careful control of air and vibrato is paramount.

The objective is to vibrate the lips at a suitable speed to get a good quality sound. The sound begins its life using the tongue behind the top teeth by saying one of the following syllables “Da, Day, Dee, Du, – Ta, Tay, Tee, Tu, dependent upon the amount of accent that you wish the note to start with. The tongue then having done most of its work, not all but most, then drops lower in the mouth and at the same time the diaphragm (stomach) pushes air towards the lips at a constant rate to vibrate them at the desired pitch. The more air pressure from the diaphragm plus the tongue will give you the desired accent, pitch and volume of the sound. Vibrating the lips at 440 times a second (hertz) would produce a concert pitch “a”. The sound that you should now produce should have a full sound with no wasted air producing a hiss to accompany it. If a hiss is present then either the embouchure needs to be adjusted or the air pressure from the stomach needs to be controlled better. It is up to the performer to really listen to his or her sound and scrutinise it for the above impurities.

In all the above, the tongue position is critical. If the tongue is too low in the mouth then the note will try to drop in pitch to the next one playable, with the valve combination you are using. If the tongue is too high in the mouth then the note can become thin and strident in colour, and not particularly good to listen too. Therefore the tongue position should be as low as possible in the mouth for the given pitch, supported by a constant stream of air from the stomach. Once a good pure tone is achieved, adding vibrato will carry the sound and make it more mellow which is good for slow lyrical work. However for orchestral work this vibrato should be used sparingly.

Teaching Beginning Readers – Nineteen Tips

• Don’t rely only on the teacher at school to teach your child to read. The teacher unfortunately has too many students in her class and can’t possibly give your child all of the attention he deserves.

• Read aloud to your child every day. Even fifteen minutes before bedtime will accomplish a great deal, such as: increase love of reading, increase vocabulary, give knowledge of other worlds and ways to solve problems, provide a time to bond with you, and perhaps even help your child to sleep better! Children love to be read to and often request the same books over and over. They are learning something new from the book, so play along; eventually you’ll breathe a sigh of relief, like I did, when, after the twenty-fifth time, my daughter finally let Mike Mulligan’s Steam Shovel lay to rest!

• Point to and let children fill in the simple words (pig, dog, cat, etc.) in the story as you read. Sound these words out for your child to begin with until they get the hang of it. [p I g — c a t]

• Be sure you’re saying the sounds–not the letters. Your child will learn more quickly by relating the sounds to the “pictures of the sounds,” than by knowing the letter names. For example, with the word “cat,” the letters pronounced, “see a T,” don’t give the child a strategy to use in sounding out the word and may be confusing.

• When you start with the sounds in the words, you are starting with something the child already knows. He knows how to talk! Our language didn’t start out with letters and then make sounds to go with them; we started out with sounds and created letters to go with the sounds. Humans have been speaking for thousands of years, but only reading and writing for a relatively short amount of time.

• Reading ought to be a progressive endeavor. It really isn’t a natural activity like talking. Your child won’t learn how to read by osmosis. Follow the simple steps (below) and your child will be enjoying reading in no time.

• Start with simple words. These are called CVC words for their (consonant-vowel-consonant) order. [For example, red, pot, bad, rug].

• When you say the sound of a consonant, try not to put a vowel sound after it. This confuses children,
because they may not be able to hear the real vowel sound. Say the consonant sounds sharp. [For example, when you say /p/ let your lips pop out, don’t say “pu.”

• Ability to segment the sounds in a word is predictive of reading success. Play simple games to teach your child how to segment each of the sounds and then how to blend them together to make a word. Say, “I’ll say some sounds, i.e. [d o t], and then you tell me what the word is…” When your child gets the hang of this, let him tell you the sounds in little words and you “guess” the word. You can also ask, “Tell me the sounds you hear in the word “fog,” for example. Make sure he is separating each of the sounds. [f o g]

• Play rhyming games as well. These are fun and will help your child to hear the subtle changes in words. “I’m thinking of a word that rhymes with fish.” Children love to fool you too, so also let them play along as they say, “I’m thinking of a word that rhymes with hat,” etc.

• After your child is somewhat successful with 3-sound words, begin teaching words that are called CCVC (consonant, consonant, vowel, consonant) words such as “stop,” “trip”, and “frog.” These words are more difficult because children may have trouble hearing the adjacent (or double) consonant sounds. Teach these sounds as separate sounds; do not teach the two consonants together as a blend! Struggling readers have more difficulty reading when they’ve previously been taught blends. When you say a blend (like /bl/ or /fr/ or /gl), it’s difficult not to put a ‘u’ sound after it. This makes the real vowel sound difficult to hear. Also, teaching blends in isolation is a waste of precious time. So, the word “frog” should be taught as four separate sounds. [f r o g].

• Another reason blends should not be taught is that one of the signs of a good reader is being able to manipulate/change the sounds in words (phonemic awareness) to make new words. This strategy can be taught when all of the sounds are separated, but not when two sounds are blended together. You can have your child work with letter tiles and say, “spell and say the sounds in tap.” That says, tap– now change it to top. That says, top, now change it to stop, etc. You can’t do this very important exercise without separating all of the sounds and avoiding blends. If you try this, be sure to make only one change at a time.

• Next teach your child to read and spell “digraphs” (words wherein two letters symbolize one sound) such as sh/ch/th/ck. This includes words such as: ship, wish, chat, that, sick, etc. This is the first time your child will learn that sometimes two letters represent one sound. Even though the words listed above all contain four letters, those four letters represent only three sounds. A good strategy, and multi-sensory approach, is to draw one line for each sound and let your child fill in the lines with the sound pictures/letters while he or she says the sounds.
___ ___ ___ [ch o p ]

• Young children like sorting things into groups. You could, for example, make lists of words containing /sh/ /ch/ /th/ and /ck/ as mentioned above, cut them out, and let your child sort them into the aforementioned groups. This helps children to be more aware of the differences as they begin to read and spell these words.

• Spend time writing with your child each day. When you’re making a grocery list, let her make one too. When you’re writing a letter, let him write a letter to his grandparents or a friend who has moved away. Don’t worry for now that he can’t spell every word correctly, or that she writes some of the words phonetically (the way the words sound). I call this process “developmental spelling,” and seeing what he knows about the sound/symbol relationships can tell you what he still needs to learn. Teach “conventional spelling” a little bit at a time, concentrating on the CVC, CCVC, and common digraph words early on. Eventually you can teach the “accepted spellings” for more advanced words. Also, the more your child begins to read, the more he or she will begin to recognize accepted spellings for words.

• Talk about ideas and meanings of words with your children from the beginning. By the time they’ve learned to decode (sound out) words, they’ll be much further ahead in the literacy game. Don’t assume your child knows the definition of words; ask your child what a word means and you may be surprised that often they won’t know. But, if they have an idea (even a little bit of an idea), give them the opportunity to try to express it. This is good practice.

• Be sure to enunciate clearly when speaking to your child. Children, especially those who struggle with reading, have difficulty hearing all of the sounds in words, and may tend to leave out or add some sounds. A third grade boy I worked with years ago, used to add the letter “a” to the end of words he spelled anytime he wasn’t sure what to do. Later on he and I had a good laugh about that. If children don’t know how to pronounce a word correctly, they will not be able to spell it or read it correctly.

• When your child wants help spelling a word, you can help him access his own knowledge by saying, “Say the word _____. How many sounds do you hear when you say ____?” For example, if the word is ‘flat,’ hopefully, he will hear and say, “4 sounds”. Next, have him write a little line for each of the four sounds, and fill them in as he says the sounds out loud. This multi-sensory strategy will help time after time.

• Taking a step-by-step approach is important in teaching your child to read. It’s important for her to read stories and books she can be successful at. Don’t encourage him to read way beyond his reading level–it will just discourage him.