Recently, the Dyslexia Foundation retweeted a version of the old rule, "I before e except after c." The new version goes: "I before e, except when you run a feisty heist on a weird beige foreign neighbor." English is full of exceptions to rules, especially since we borrowed much of our language from other cultures and countries. Take, for example, maize and maze or phial and file.
When children have trouble reading, the problems show up first in the everyday words. A child will read the word "were" correctly the first time it occurs in a sentence and then not recognize it the second time it occurs--in the same sentence. A child will be able to read one word (for example, "the") every time, but not able to read any of the words surrounding it, and will not recognize the "th" sound as part of another word (there, then, them). If those basic words are so difficult, you can imagine the problems caused by exceptions to the rules.
Reading is a complex process involving many parts of the brain. When I was a child, I could never sound things out. I read very well but if I came to a new word and the teacher asked me to sound it out--I couldn't hear what I was clearly saying. It frustrated the teacher no end (and me, too). However, once the teacher said the word, I could read it whenever I saw it. A child with dyslexia may need specialized, one-on-one tutoring to make that leap between sound and sight.
Processing speed is also a factor. The words come out eventually but because of slow processing speed, the meaning of the words (let alone meaning of the sentence) is lost. In addition, slow processing speed may mean that a child takes a very long time to read a paragraph or a page, an exhausting struggle. Visual cues are another problem. Some children read better with a different contrast between letters and page, not the standard black and white. Others read better when the font is changed to emphasize the distinctions between letters like b and h or a and g.
Finally, after months and years of frustration, a child may give up. The psychological harm of repeated failure to read cannot be overemphasized. Reading is the basis of all learning in school. A child who fails to read fails everything.
Windy Row Learning Center is aware of these and all the other aspects of reading, and we help children every day to overcome their particular challenges. If you know a child in the Monadnock Region who is behind grade level in reading, please mention Windy Row. And if you are able to, please donate to our scholarship fund. The tutors, parents and children of Windy Row thank you.