Study after study tells us that the earlier we intervene when it comes to dyslexia the better. We know that we can see indicators of dyslexia in children as early as 3 & 4 years old using early measures of academic and speech-language development and reviewing family history. By working with these students that have red flags we can make significant progress early on and change the long term outcome of their reading potential. In other words, we can have a life changing effect on kids that may otherwise significantly struggle to learn how to read.
This is an area that has a lot of push-back and I completely understand why. Preschool is for play-based learning, socialization, and developmentally appropriate instruction. I could not agree more with this position. Growing up my mom ran an amazing half-day, play-based nursery school and was dedicated to high-quality early childhood education (ECE). I grew up working in this school and eventually substitute teaching there. This nursery school instilled my still very strong love for ECE. I have no interest in turning preschools into kindergarten readiness programs that have 3, 4, & 5-year-olds filling in worksheets and memorizing sight words. However, I do have a deep personal connection to catching signs of dyslexia early and helping kids through developmentally appropriate means.
I myself was diagnosed with dyslexia when I was in 6th grade, I did not learn how to read with proficiency until high school, I am the world’s worst speller to this day, and before I let y’all read this blog I will have multiple people read it to check for spelling and homonym errors. As you know, dyslexia is a neurological difference and is a life long learning disability but, with early intervention, it can be remediated and for some people almost disappear. I could have potentially been one of these kiddos, I have an average IQ (109) and do not have any other significant co-morbidities, such as ADHD, a speech-language disability, or other neurological disabilities. I am what many people would call a “typical dyslexic.” I struggled greatly throughout elementary school and believed I was stupid, I hated school and cried every single night that I had homework. Tests threw me into a tailspin of self-doubt, depression, and anger. I was in special education classes starting in kindergarten and had an Individualized Education Program (IEP) that lasted through high school and allowed me 50% extra time on my SAT. I almost failed out of college my freshman year, but with help from friends and the occasional professor I finished in four years - proud, but mostly exhausted.
As a kid, school is your job and for a kid with dyslexia, day-in and day-out you feel like you stink at your job! This is emotionally draining and has had lifelong effects beyond just the fact that it takes me 4 times as long to read something and my spelling is so bad that if people read my unchecked emails they would assume I was unintelligent.
The side effects of going unnoticed throughout elementary school and never really being taught how to read effectively or efficiently are huge and life-long. We have the ability to catch this and remediate it with early intervention! We have the ability to significantly change kids lives for the better. If I could turn back the clock and go through an early reading intervention program and have it improve my reading by even a little - I would do it in a second. I think most adults with dyslexia would agree that if school could have been less traumatic and stressful; if reading could have been slightly easier and the least bit enjoyable; they would have done anything to make that possible. I believe this is the direction we must go in for so many reasons.
First and foremost,
it’s the right thing to do for our dyslexic kids.
the intervention itself is significantly shorter when tacked at age 4 & 5 (pre-school), compared to intervention provided at age 8 & 9 (third grade) and beyond when many kids are first formally identified as significantly struggling.
the methods used to help a preschooler who shows signs of dyslexia are developmentally appropriate and are presented as fun games.
Click on the image below to check out one of our Smart ALEC language development and early literacy lessons that aligns with the Sheep in a Jeep storybook.
All in all the developmental growth that happens in out preschoolers is huge and like no other time in a human's development.
This makes preschool the perfect time to make the most impactful and significant difference. So let’s get out there and have a life changing effect!
The Smart ALEC team
*Disclosure: We did use an affiliate link for Sheep in a Jeep - it really is a great book regardless of where you buy it :)