10 Back to School Supplies That Make the Difference

What Can You Do to Get Your Kids Off to a Great Start for School Success?

Having the right back to school supplies can make the difference between feeling prepared for the school year and not. They can help boost your kids’ confidence as they enter the school year knowing that they have the supplies they need at their disposal. As a parent, what can you do to help your kids be excited and confident about school?

For our family, it was critical that we talk about the upcoming year. We’d speculate on which teacher they might get. We would think about who might be in their class. We’d also walk over to the school a week before school started and see where the new grade classrooms were and sometimes we even got to meet their teacher who was getting the classroom ready. Doing this always increased their excitement and confidence for the coming year.

Then, one of the most fun things we’d do was to shop for the new backpack and some school supplies. There is nothing like that ‘feel’ of picking out your backpack and a few new supplies to start off the new year.

Studies have shown that students tend to do well when they have the tools they need handy. The right tools can make a difference in helping your kids make connections, comprehend, and use what they are learning.

Back to School Supplies that Make a Difference

K – 2nd Grade Back to School Supplies

  1. Pencils: These are for beginning writers.
  2. Pencil Grips: These are specifically designed to help kids write and hold their pencils properly.
  3. Dry Erase Markers and Whiteboard: These markers make it easy for your kids and easy to erase.
  4. Washable Markers: These markers make it easy for your kids and easy to wash off.
  5. Pencil Sharpener: Make it easy for kids to write more neatly with sharpened pencils.
  6. Erasers: These are the sturdiest and best I’ve found over the years.
  7. Glue Stick: Make it easy for your kids to glue without making a mess.
  8. Scissors: Get the sharpest and safest scissors around.
  9. Sentence Zone Game: Learn how to write sentences with color-coded cards.
  10. Wide Ruled Handwriting Paper: This paper helps with sizing letters correctly.

3rd – 8th Grade Back to School Supplies

Get the supplies in the K – 2nd-grade list and add the following items:

  1. Erasable Pens: These will help you make corrections a little bit easier.
  2. Highlighter Tape: Better than highlighter pens…color code your textbooks and notes with removable colored tape.
  3. Graph Paper: This helps you keep your columns straight in math.
  4. Hole Punch: Helps keep track of your papers in their appropriate folder or notebook.
  5. Folders for Reports: Helps you be better organized with color-coded folders.
  6. Atlas (student-friendly): See the connections geographically and historically.
  7. Thesaurus (student-friendly): Helps you use more interesting words in your writing and assignments.
  8. Dictionary (student-friendly): Our favorite dictionary that has simple, easy to read definitions. A must-have!
  9. Graphic Organizers: Make note-taking, paragraph writing, and essay writing a little easier.
  10. Writing Reference Guide: The ultimate cheat sheet for any writing assignment.

5 Steps to a Successful School Year

  1. Set up your backpack with the supplies you’ll need, at least for the first couple of days.
  2. Visit the school a week or even a day or two before it opens. Check out where their classroom is, so they will know exactly where to go.
  3. Have your kids set up their first week of school schedule: including homework time as well as sports practice, scouts, etc. (This is very easy to do with the planning calendars in Ten Minutes to Better Study Skills.)
  4. Have your kids plan what they will wear to school the night before school. This is a good routine to get into as it helps reduce morning stress.
  5. Plan what you’d like your kids to take to school for lunch as well as a snack (grapes, apple, orange, carrots, cucumbers, hummus, etc.) so that your kids have the energy for learning.

Planning and doing these things ahead of time will make it a bit easier for your kids to adjust back into ‘school mode’. Coming out of summer break and back to school is a big change and implementing these tips will make getting back into the routine of school a bit more enjoyable.

Who is Scholar Within?

Scholar Within was founded by learning expert Bonnie Terry, M. Ed., BCET. Bonnie began designing and developing her own custom educational tools when she started her private learning center in the 1990s. Teachers kept asking what she was using with the kids who saw her because of the dramatic improvements that the kids made in school. From there, Bonnie decided to make her materials available to teachers and families worldwide.

Now, Bonnie Terry has turned her materials into a full-service online program that you can follow step-by-step at home, on your schedule. School alone is not enough anymore. Bonnie’s programs boost your kid’s overall learning skills by focusing on improving the auditory, visual, and tactile processing areas of your brain to make it work more efficiently.

Learn more about Scholar Within.

School Success: Goal Planning for Your New School Year

Executive Function Skills, Setting a Big Audacious Goal, and How to Help Your Kids’ Successfully Plan their Year

PLUS FREE Goal Planning Worksheet

School success depends on executive function. Executive function is all about planning, organizing, strategizing, paying attention to, and remembering details. In order to succeed, you do need to be somewhat organized. You need to pay attention to what is going on. And, you also need to remember details. That being said, many of us have heard the adage If You Fail to Plan, You Plan to Fail. This statement is credited to Benjamin Franklin. Think about that. If you fail to plan, many things don’t get done. Often you end up failing to do as well as you could have.

One way to plan for a successful year is to sit down with your kids and make a plan. Start off by letting your child know that you do remember some wins and some struggles last year. Remind them they are a bit older now and that their brain has had time to make more connections, so learning will be a bit easier this year.

A great way to start the school year off is to frame the year by setting some over-arching goals. These initial goals will be the foundation for your kids’ school year and will have something that they can work towards throughout. They can have school directed goals and more personal goals, but try to have at least one of each.

Big Audacious Goal Planning

What is a big audacious goal? It is a goal that is bold and might put you out of your comfort zone. It is a goal that is attainable. This could be something from giving a presentation on a topic your child may know something or nothing about to their classroom or other groups. It might be for them to learn how to play a song with an instrument. It might be to learn how to cook a favorite meal and to prepare dinner for family and friends.

The goal will depend on the child. If they already excel at something they want to focus even more this year, the audacious goal would be to push their talents even further than what they might think is currently attainable. The goal might be an idea that has been burrowing in the back of their mind for some time. Help brainstorm ideas and even come up with an audacious goal of your own this year. Shoot for the stars and land on the clouds.

Be Realistic

It is often impossible for someone to accomplish a life long goal overnight or even sometimes in a year, but you can plan out certain steps or milestones that will make progress towards a larger goal. Instead of your child writing down that they want to become an engineer by the end of the year, have them set their immediate goal to something more attainable. Possibly have their audacious goal to be about to learn about the construction of sustainable buildings and to make a presentation to family and friends on the topic.

Write Your Goals Down

When you write your goals down, they become real. This process helps you figure out what it is that you really want. Your goals can be completely different from someone else. This sort of planning helps start the wheels in your mind moving and to have something to work towards.

The research from Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at Dominican University of California, shows that the actual process of writing goals down can help improve your chance of accomplishing your goals by 33%.

Write Down the Steps You Need to Do to Accomplish Your Goal

It is one thing to just put a big goal out there and then to have no thoughts about how you can actually make it happen. For the goal of making a presentation on sustainable building designs, they could write down that they will read books and articles on the topic, watch YouTube tutorial videos from engineers, research what buildings near where they live are sustainable, try to contact engineers of different firms that construct the buildings to see if they could get a tour of their studio, as well as document their research along the way. Depending on grade level, this can be as simple or as complex as you want.

 

Download FREE Goal Planning Worksheet

We put together a school year goal planning worksheet to make the whole process of planning a little bit easier. We start off with a big audacious goal, move on to another goal that your child needs to accomplish (but might not be something that they are the most excited about), and we wrap up with one goal that they’d like to do if there is time to do it. Download the goal planning worksheet and share it with your friends.

2019 Big Audacious Goal School Success Worksheet (Graphic Organizer)
School Success Priority Planning Worksheet:
2019 Big Audacious Goal Worksheet

More Graphic Organizers and Planning Worksheets

A consistent step in actualizing goals is to fill out a calendar with different dates that your kids want to accomplish certain milestones with. Bonnie Terry Learning’s Graphic Organizer Handbook is loaded with planning calendars and other great organizers. The book contains over 50 graphic organizers including:

  • Goal Planning
  • Priority Planning
  • To-Do Lists
  • Daily Planning
  • Weekly Planning
  • Monthly Planning
  • Textbook Note-Taking
  • Story Note-Taking
  • 5 ‘W’ Form
  • Hamburger Paragraph
  • Formal Essay Outline
  • Book Reports
  • Storyboards
  • Sentence Building
  • Paragraph Organizer
  • Essay Organizers
  • Formal Essay Outline
  • Compare and Contrast
  • Cause and Effect
  • Study Guides
  • Study Tips
  • Test-Taking Tips
  • Note-Taking Tips
  • Paragraph Writing Tips

Learn More

Coming Soon: After-School Reading Program

Woohoo! For those who were not able to join our Summer Reading Program this summer, we are offering an After-School Reading Program that you can do with your kids at home to boost their reading skills. We work on foundational reading skills, from training your eyes to move more efficiently to learning how to read for meaning. Are you interested? Send us a note to let us know. The program is for kids who are looking for a boost to their skills whether they are at grade level, above grade level, or below grade level. We work on skills to make learning easier and more efficient.

Who is Scholar Within?

Scholar Within was founded by learning expert Bonnie Terry, M. Ed., BCET. Bonnie began designing and developing her own custom educational tools when she started her private learning center in the 1990s. Teachers kept asking what she was using with the kids who saw her because of the dramatic improvements that the kids made in school. From there, Bonnie decided to make her materials available to teachers and families worldwide.

Now, Bonnie Terry has turned her materials into a full-service online program that you can follow step-by-step at home, on your schedule. School alone is not enough anymore. Bonnie’s programs boost your kid’s overall learning skills by focusing on improving the auditory, visual, and tactile processing areas of your brain to make it work more efficiently.

Learn more about Scholar Within.

Auditory Processing and Spelling

What is Auditory Processing?

Have you ever heard a new word and tried to spell it? Doing this helps you to remember the new word. The task of reading new words is much easier than spelling new words. Reading words is the process of decoding. Spelling is the process of encoding. These are two sides of the same coin. Decoding is sounding out words. Encoding is figuring out how to spell words.

That being said, the act of spelling brings your letter knowledge and phonemic awareness together. Phonemic awareness is the ability to match the sounds you hear with the letters that represent them. This is also the ability to manipulate sounds and use the sounds of oral language.

So, let’s look at phonemic awareness. It is typically taught in the early grades and then forgotten about. That is one reason that many kids and even adults have difficulty with spelling. Manipulating sounds with the letters that represent them grows as you grow. Reviewing this skill as you spell longer words improves your spelling. This, then, improves your overall auditory processing and listening skills.

Scholar Within Summer Reading Program

The Auditory Processing and Spelling Connection

We all take in information through the sense of hearing (auditory), seeing (visual), and doing (tactile/kinesthetic). Each of these systems is critical to our ability to learn with ease. So, incorporating them into a reading and spelling program is important.

Auditory processing skills are foundational to read, spell, and write. The first steps in learning are not just visual, they are also auditory. A baby can hear a mother’s voice before being born. Toddlers refine the sounds they hear. This is the beginning of phonemic awareness. The early grades teach you to refine your auditory processing skills. This includes phonemic awareness and phonics. These skills are used throughout school and life.

Phonemic awareness is your ability to hear, identify, and manipulate individual sounds – phonemes – in spoken words. Phonics is the next step in the process. It is the ability to relate the auditory sounds to a visual symbol, a letter or group of letters. This is how we spell. We take the sounds we hear and put the letters that represent them together to spell the words.

Areas of Auditory Processing that are the Foundations of Spelling

Auditory Discrimination

Auditory discrimination is the most familiar area of auditory processing. This is the ability to discriminate between individual sounds or words that are similar or different in the way they sound. For example: very and berry, mob and mop, half and have.

9 Areas of Auditory Processing

Auditory-Visual Integration

This is both an auditory processing area and a visual processing area. The ability to accurately relate an auditory sound to a visual symbol is how we use letters to represent sounds.

Auditory Closure

Auditory closure is the ability to combine sounds together to make words. This is often referred to as sound blending. Given the individual sounds ‘b’, ‘a‘, and ‘t’; can you pull them together to make the word ‘bat‘? ‘Filling in’ the missing piece of a word is another part of auditory closure. If I were to say ‘to _a to‘, can you fill in the missing ‘m‘ and say ‘tomato‘?

Auditory Figure-Ground

Figure-ground is attending to instruction when there is background noise. An example is when your kids are watching television and you ask them to do something, do they do it? Did they even hear you? Or are they distracted by the background noise of the television?

These are four of the nine areas of auditory processing that impact spelling, reading, and overall learning.

The Structure of the English Language

The first step is to understand how we put sounds together with letters to make words. In the English language, we do this in 8 ways. These 8 ways are the 8 spelling patterns. We only put letters together 8 ways to make words. For example, most of us know the vowel-consonant pattern. This is where the vowels give their short sound. They do that in the words: ‘hat’, ‘set’, ‘it’, ‘pot’, ‘fun’, and the two-syllable word ‘picnic‘.

Summer Reading Program incorporates 9 Areas of Auditory Processing

Scholar Within’s Summer Reading program uses proven methods that improve your auditory processing system:

  1. Reading Fluency Training that Incorporates Phonemic Awareness
  2. Rapid Naming Activities
  3. Phonics and Spelling Video Lessons
  4. Auditory Memory Activities
  5. Auditory Discrimination Activities
  6. Auditory Figure-Ground Activities
  7. Executive Function (Planning Skills)
  8. Brain-Body Connection Activities

Get Started

Scholar Within Summer Reading Program

Who is Scholar Within?

Scholar Within was founded by learning expert Bonnie Terry, M. Ed., BCET. Bonnie began designing and developing her own custom educational tools when she started her private learning center in the 1990s. Soon, teachers began to ask what she was using with the kids who saw her. The teachers saw the dramatic improvements that the kids made in school. From there, Bonnie decided to make her materials available to teachers and families worldwide.

Now, Bonnie Terry has turned her materials into a full-service online program that you can follow step-by-step at home, on your schedule. School alone is not enough anymore. Bonnie’s programs boost your kid’s overall learning skills by focusing on improving the auditory, visual, and tactile processing areas of your brain to make it work more efficiently.

Learn more about Scholar Within.

How Vocabulary and Comprehension are Connected

Going back to my first year of teaching, I found that comprehension was impacted directly by vocabulary. When you don’t understand a word, how it is connected or associated with other words, it is hard to comprehend. Comprehension is the ability to understand and use what you have read or learned. This involves understanding, analyzing, and synthesizing words, sentences, and ideas. Vocabulary is the body of words you know. Words are everywhere, so as we improve our word knowledge, our vocabulary, we improve comprehension.

Since vocabulary is the knowledge-base of words and their meanings, it is the go-to place in our memory system. Our brain sifts through our memory bank to make sense of words. One of the ways it does this is to make associations. When we make an association, it is easier for us to remember. For example, the word organ can be associated with musical instruments or with parts of the body. So we associate the word organ with one of those categories as we read a selection. We combine it with the other information we read. This, then, tells us which meaning of the word organ is being referred to in the text.

Scholar Within Summer Reading Program

Vocabulary and Comprehension Research

Studies have shown that when you don’t have a large vocabulary to draw upon, comprehension is depressed. In fact, Biemiller (2005) stated, “Lacking either adequate word identification skills or adequate vocabulary will ensure failure.” The Nation’s Report Card states, “Students who scored high in comprehension also scored high on vocabulary.” So, improving vocabulary improves comprehension.

How Do You Improve Vocabulary and Comprehension?

The research on how vocabulary and comprehension are intertwined is widely documented. Over the past twenty years, researchers have discovered some of the best methods to teach comprehension and vocabulary.

According to Eric Jensen, author of Brain-Based Learning, there are three basic ways the brain constructs meaning. When learning a new word, you need to use relevance, emotion, or patterns and connections. Each of those three ways uses association to construct both meaning and retention. Relevance is relating the word to something that is relatable. Emotion is having an emotional reaction – you really liked something or didn’t like something. You can bring up that specific part by reminding a student that they didn’t like the selection. Connections or patterns is making a connection with the vocabulary word like in the example of the word organ, above.

Learn more about Associative Learning.

  1. Direct instruction of words and definitions as well as making associations with the words
  2. Repetition and multiple exposures through a variety of activities
  3. Words must be useful and relevant so they can be used in multiple contexts

Apply the Research on Vocabulary and Comprehension

How to teach new vocabulary:

  1. Use new words in a story to model what the word means.
  2. Use the new word in an example that they have made up.
  3. Doodle or draw a picture of what the word means.
  4. Make a vocabulary notebook (spiral notebook or binder). Have a page or two for each letter of the alphabet. Write the new word in the notebook with your story example and picture.
  5. Use the new word in conversations every day for 5-10 days.
  6. Play games with words.

Scholar Within’s Summer Reading Program provides a variety of activities throughout the week that improve vocabulary and comprehension skills. One of the many activities is to use our special story cards and storyboards to draw about what you read. Another activity is to play the weekly card game. The card games rotate each week from word structure games that build vocabulary to specific vocabulary games that build word associations. Game playing allows for learning and practicing vocabulary in a relaxed setting. Eric Jensen, author of Brain-Based Learning, (1997) states, “Through visual and kinesthetic methods you’ll increase student performance.” Games do just that!

What do Parents Say?

My son’s reading skills have gone up tremendously. I can’t believe we saw progress in three days, just like you told me I would! You know, I’ve been homeschooling my son for 4 years and he had never picked up a book to read on his own. It was such a struggle to get him to want to read. I have to tell you, three weeks after working with the video lessons, we went to the library, and my son actually picked out 3 chapter books to read. In fact, he wouldn’t put the first book down until he finished it.”

– Lisa K

Thank you for partnering with me to help my daughters improve their reading skills. They are really enjoying your program and are excited about becoming more confident readers.” 

Lisa G

Who is Scholar Within?

Scholar Within was founded by learning expert Bonnie Terry, M. Ed., BCET. Bonnie began designing and developing her own custom educational tools when she started her private learning center in the 1990s. Teachers kept asking what she was using with the kids who saw her because of the dramatic improvements that the kids made in school. From there, Bonnie decided to make her materials available to teachers and families worldwide.

Now, Bonnie Terry has turned her materials into a full-service online program that you can follow step-by-step at home, on your schedule. School alone is not enough anymore. Bonnie’s programs boost your kid’s overall learning skills by focusing on improving the auditory, visual, and tactile processing areas of your brain to make it work more efficiently.

Learn more about Scholar Within.

4th of July Family Activities

The 4th of July is perfect to do family activities outside like a picnic or BBQ in the park. Make your 4th that much more memorable by playing games. Some of our favorites include relay races, obstacle courses, and the one sure to go over with a splash, a water balloon toss. You might not realize it, but obstacle courses and relay races improve several areas of learning including laterality, directionality, visual memory, and auditory memory. These family activities target the brain-body connection which is critical to learning.

Scholar Within Summer Reading Program

Brain-body activities such as obstacle courses, relay races, or even playing musical chairs can be fun for kids of all ages and are completed in just a few minutes. Bean bag toss or cornhole is also a favorite. All these activities work on our sensory systems. The sensory systems are interconnected in numerous ways. Strengthening our skills through activities like these games intrinsically improves our academic skills.

Family Activities: Relay Races

Egg on a Spoon Race

  • Form two teams. Give each player a spoon. Give each team a hard-boiled egg (or a plastic one). To play, teams carry their egg from the starting line to a turnaround point and back again, then pass it to a teammate to repeat the process. If the egg is dropped, the player must stop and retrieve it. Whichever team gets the egg back and forth the fastest wins.
  • Variations: Skip the spoon and use an armload of plastic eggs; use raw eggs; skip the egg and use a bowl full of pennies that must be transferred on the spoon; add obstacles to the playing area; require players to march or skip instead of walking.

Wheelbarrow Race

  • Make teams of two and mark the start and finish lines. One person in each team must walk on his hands while his partner holds his ankles. Have teams go as fast as they can to the finish line, swap places and race back to the start.

Balloon Race

  • These races are best for kids over 4. Littler ones may be scared by popping noises, and fragments of popped balloons are a choking hazard. Split the group into teams and have them stand in a single-file line. Give the leader of each line a balloon. He must pass it through his legs to the player behind him. That player passes it overhead to the next player. Repeat this pattern until the balloon gets to the end of the line; the last player runs to the front of the line and (optional!) pops the balloon to win the game.
  • Variations: Use water balloons or a beach ball; have kids race from start to finish lines holding a balloon between their knees or back-to-back with a partner, or, in pairs, balancing a balloon on a towel or piece of newspaper.

3-legged Race

  • Divide players into teams of two. Have them stand side-by-side and tie adjacent (inside) legs together using a bandanna or scarf. Mark off the start and finish lines. The three-legged pairs must work together to race to the finish. It’s harder than it looks!
  • Variation: Have duos link arms instead. To make this tougher, give them something they must carry together, such as a football or a small bucket of water.

Water Relay Races

  • Give each team a plastic cup and a bucket full of water. Put one empty bucket for each team at the finish line. Players take turns filling up their cup from their bucket, then dumping it into their empty bucket. The game is over when the once-full bucket is empty; the team with the most amount of water in their finish-line bucket wins.
  • Variations: Use a large sponge instead of a cup; poke a few holes in the cup and have kids carry it over their heads

Dress-Up Relay

  • Divide your group into two teams. Place two similar piles, boxes, or suitcases of dress-up items at the end of the playing area, one per team. The first player runs to the pile, puts on all the dress-ups on top of her clothing, then runs back to her team. She removes all the dress-up items and gives them to the next player, who must put them all on, run back and forth across playing area, and then remove the dress-ups so the next player can repeat the process. Variations: Have the first player put on just one item from the pile. The second player has to put on that item, plus a second one. The third player puts on three items, and so on.

Be sure to take pictures too!

Fireworks Family Activities

Get the most out of your trip to view the fireworks. Be extra observant. Count how may blue, green, red, white, and multi-colored fireworks there are. You can even make a chart for this. Decide which colors were your favorite ones. Was there a style that you liked better than another? This will help you with your observation skills. Be sure to take pictures throughout the day.

Stretch Activity: Scrapbook / July 4th in Review

Afterward, on July 5th, put your pictures together with a quick summary of your day using graphic organizers from the Summer Reading Program. Then, 3-hole punch your summary and keep it in a family notebook. At the end of the summer, you’ll have a great family memory book as well!

Summer Reading Program Family Activities

Family outings and activities are built into the Summer Reading Program. This is one of the ways we build memory skills, in addition to having a good time with your family. The activities build your overall experience bank from which to draw upon while you are reading. This is your factual knowledge base, another piece of the comprehension puzzle. Take pictures or draw pictures of your family activity. Place them along with a few sentences about the activity into your family memory book. Then, go through the family memory book and talk about the great times you had. This activity will improve writing skills, both auditory and visual memory skills, and 15 other areas of learning as well!

Who is Scholar Within?

Scholar Within was founded by learning expert Bonnie Terry, M. Ed., BCET. Bonnie began designing and developing her own custom educational tools when she started her private learning center in the 1990s. Teachers kept asking what she was using with the kids who saw her because of the dramatic improvements that the kids made in school. From there, Bonnie decided to make her materials available to teachers and families worldwide.

Now, Bonnie Terry has turned her materials into a full-service online program that you can follow step-by-step at home, on your schedule. School alone is not enough anymore. Bonnie’s programs boost your kid’s overall learning skills by focusing on improving the auditory, visual, and tactile processing areas of your brain to make it work more efficiently.

The Key to Boosting Reading Speed, Accuracy, and Efficiency: Reading Fluency

Reading fluency is the ability to speak or read smoothly, easily, and quickly. Good readers can read words automatically without having to sound out each syllable (also known as decoding). In other words, you don’t have to spend a lot of effort and attention to the mechanics of reading. Reading becomes easy.

Scholar Within Summer Reading Program

Why is Reading Fluency Important?

Your ability to read fluently contributes to good comprehension skills. When you can’t read quickly, it is hard to hold pieces of text in your mind and make sense of them. When that happens, you typically don’t enjoy reading. It is just too labor intensive. This directly impacts reading comprehension. According to the research done by S. J. Samuels, “Comprehension requires the fluent mastery of the surface-level aspects of reading.”

How to Improve Reading Fluency

Mastery Guide Reading Rates (Words-Per-Minute) for Students

So, let’s first start off with what is considered being at grade-level for words read per minute. The following is a guideline you can use to gauge your child. These word-per-minute rates are based on reading passages of text at grade-level. Over the years I’ve been teaching, the reading rates for each grade level has risen progressively. This is where they currently are:

  • 1st Grade (Spring): 40 – 80 wpm
  • 2nd Grade (Spring): 80 – 120 wpm
  • 3rd Grade (Spring): 115 – 140 wpm
  • 4th Grade (Spring): 140 – 170 wpm
  • 5th Grade (Spring): 150 – 195 wpm
  • 6th Grade (Spring): 170 – 220 wpm

*2017 Update of Oral Reading Fluency (ORF) Norms

Why Do Some Kids Read Slowly?

One effect of kids reading slowly is that they may not enjoy reading as it takes them so long to read a selection. How fast kids can process what they see also impacts reading accuracy. Listen to your kids read aloud. If they skip, omit, or repeat words, phrases, or lines when they read, this is typically due to a visual tracking issue. Eye muscles aren’t moving as efficiently as they can. Visual tracking and processing speed are learned skills, and they can improve quite easily with simple activities.

Re-reading of text is quite common because kids are missing bits and pieces of what they’re reading. They re-read the selection so it will make sense to them. This can occur with kids at all levels of reading whether they are: above, at, or below grade level. Fortunately, this can easily improve, again, with simple activities. This can happen when your eyes are not working fluidly.

Does your child have room for improvement?

Your child can improve the number of words they read per minute with short, daily reading fluency training, like that in our Summer Reading Program. With our training, you can not only reach the higher ends of these word-per-minute guidelines, but you can excel past them. We have seen some kids read twice as many words-per-minute as when they started within a couple of months.

The methods in our phonetic fluency training focus directly on improving 5 areas of visual processing, 6 areas of auditory processing, and the 2 areas of tactile/kinesthetic processing that are most critical for reading and learning. We train your eyes to track more efficiently. Our reading drills are different from other reading fluency programs in that we start by focusing on training your eyes at the most bare-bones level. We start with drills that speed up your letter and word recognition processes. Then, we build your rapid automatized retrieval, which improves the speed at which you can look at a word, recognize, and say the word.

We also make sure that students read the drills aloud to build their auditory processing systems at the same time. We have students chart the words per minute they read and mistakes per minute they made each day. They love competing against their previous records by seeing their words-per-minute go up and mistakes per minute go down.

What Do You Do to Improve Reading Fluency?

There are two types of activities that work hand and hand to improve reading fluency. One is rapid naming activities that work on improving processing speed. Rapid naming deals with your ability to rapidly name letters, objects, or words. It is the speed at which your brain retrieves information from memory. The other activity works on visual tracking, processing speed, and phonic reading skills. Our Summer Reading Program provides you with those specific activities, improving your overall reading skills.

Scholar Within Summer Reading Program

What Does the Summer Reading Program Include?

  • Reading Fluency and Rapid Naming Activities
  • Spelling
  • Comprehension
  • Phonics
  • Executive Function
  • Brain-Body Connection Activities
  • Reading Games

Get Started Now

Who is Scholar Within?

Scholar Within was founded by learning expert Bonnie Terry, M. Ed., BCET. Bonnie started designing and developing her own custom educational tools when she started her private learning center in the 1990s. Teachers kept asking what she was using with the kids that saw her because of the dramatic improvements that the kids made in school. From here, Bonnie decided to make her materials available to teachers and families worldwide.

Now, Bonnie Terry has turned her materials into a full-service online program that you can follow step-by-step at home and on your schedule. School alone is not enough anymore. Bonnie’s programs boost your kids overall learning skills by focusing on improving the auditory, visual, and tactile processing areas of your brain to make it work more efficiently.

How Brain-Body Connection and Movement Activities Improve Overall Learning Skills

Most of us don’t think about learning skills in conjunction with the brain-body connection and movement. However, the brain-body connection and movement are very important to your ability to learn and master reading skills. The brain and body work together as a machine, one designed to move through space efficiently, walking, moving, and maintaining balance.

The vestibular system maintains balance and spatial orientation. As you walk, your arms and legs swing, counterbalancing each other. The hips and buttocks stabilize the body. Your eyes need to be stable in space so you can both see and read a sign that is 20 feet away while walking. Together, the neck and vestibular system stabilize and refine the head and vision system.

The Vestibular System and Learning

The vestibular system is the sensory system that sends signals to the neural structures that control eye movement. Because we learn and read through eye movements, the vestibular system is a critical piece of the brain-body connection. It helps us focus on and perceive both objects and words, take in and analyze shapes, sizes, and directions of objects, words, sentences, and passages. It helps us interact with our environment every day.

Movement triggers the vestibular system. The body then passes information received in a round-trip pattern from the spinal cord to the brain to and back. When an action is completed, the cortex (brain) processes the information received during the action and sorts it into usable, retrievable pieces. Higher-order thinking takes place during this process, and both short-term and long-term memory banks store information.

The Brain-Body Connection Impacts Reading Skills

The vestibular system needs to be activated to have higher-order thinking, receiving, and interpreting take place. The brain takes in information from our visual, auditory, and tactile/kinesthetic systems. The vestibular system then sifts through words, shapes, sizes, directions, and space, interpreting the data. Next, it sends it to specific areas of the brain to make sense of and retain meaning from it.

The vestibular system and the brain-body connection directly impact your ability to receive and interpret words, sentences, paragraphs, and stories. It allows you to see the shapes, sizes, and positions of letters in space. Additionally, it helps you visually scan words across a page in order to read fluently and accurately. Without the ability to scan words across a page quickly and accurately, reading is stilted and comprehension is lost. As we improve the vestibular system, the system of brain-balance, reading, and overall learning improve.

Scholar Within Summer Reading Program

Brain-Body Connection Activities Improve Learning Skills

Brain-body activities are specific movement activities such as balancing on an exercise ball, doing a tree pose, or even tossing a bean bag in specific ways. Do these short activities for only a few minutes each day. Sensory movement activities like these help improve academic skills such as reading. Extensive research from NASA demonstrates how brain-body activities can impact our ability to learn. Our Summer Reading Program includes numerous brain-balance activities that improve reading skills.

Who is Scholar Within?

Scholar Within was founded by learning expert Bonnie Terry, M. Ed., BCET. Bonnie started designing and developing her own custom educational tools when she started her private learning center in the 1990s. Teachers kept asking what she was using with the kids that saw her because of the dramatic improvements that the kids made in school. From here, Bonnie decided to make her materials available to teachers and families worldwide.

Now, Bonnie Terry has turned her materials into a full-service online program that you can follow step-by-step at home and on your schedule. School alone is not enough anymore. Bonnie’s programs boost your kids overall learning skills by focusing on improving the auditory, visual, and tactile processing areas of your brain to make it work more efficiently.

Learn more about the Summer Reading Program

How to Prevent the Summer Slide: Prevent Summer Learning Loss

Did you know that kids often lose much of what they learned from the school year over summer time? This is because most of the time during the summer we don’t spend much time stimulating the brain and keeping them active. It’s typical for kids to lose between two and four months of learning over summer and kids who are already struggling can lose between four and six months!

In as little as 30-60 minutes a day, you can prevent your kids from having summer learning loss and they’ll still have a bunch of free time.

Step 1: Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Planning

Planning is a HUGE part of growing up. If you don’t have a plan together, you are often just getting carried by the wind as life happens around you. Let your kids buy into their own success by having them plan their day, week, or month. Feel free to give them suggestions or some ideas, but push them to want to be productive or to get the most out of their summer and not have it pass by without doing the things that they wanted to do.

During the school year, most of the planning in their lives is already taken care of with school and specific after school curricular activities like sports, scouts, or music. Instilling planning over the summer will be one of the real first chances they’ll get to making their own structure of their time.

Our at-home, online Summer Reading Program instills planning along with other executive function activities. Each week, we also have a special Week In Review form that revisits what you did over the week, what you did the best, where you could use some improvement, and what do you want to tackle the next week. Registration is now open.

Scholar Within Summer Reading Program

Step 2: Take Family Field Trips

Take those planning skills to work and get your kids involved into taking family field trips. You don’t even have to go anywhere far, but try to make a habit of going someplace every week. This can be going to a different park, the river, trails, museums, or the next town over. You can even visit different businesses. Call ahead and see if they mind you stopping by to say hello and to get an understanding of what it is that they do.

Set aside an afternoon or evening where the whole family brainstorms ideas of places that you want to go see or do. Let everyone have a chance to contribute their ideas. Write them down. Then, plan on a calendar when you want to go where. Do a little bit of research before you go to learn about the place and how to get there.

While you are on your field trip, make sure to take pictures! Also, try to take a couple of moments to think about the smells and sounds where you are. Ask questions!

When you finish the adventure, have your kids write down a few simple summary paragraphs of where you went. Have them write down what they liked and didn’t like. Have them draw a picture. Graphic organizers, like those in our Summer Reading Program, can help with this to make it easy to fill-in-the-blank.

Having your kids write down what they have done increases your kid’s ability to make multiple connections and memories with the activity. It will help your kids remember the field trips quite a bit more, and the summary paragraphs work great for making a scrapbook.

Scholar Within Summer Reading Program

Step 3: Enroll in our online Summer Reading Program

Our comprehensive Summer Reading Program focuses on boosting not only reading skills, but planning, executive function, brain-body, and overall learning skills. We give you step-by-step instructions of what you should do with your kids each day. Each day there are 4-5 different short activities that you do for a total of 45-60 minutes.

Our 6-Week Summer Reading Program includes:

  • Reading Fluency Training
  • Spelling and Phonics Lessons
  • Reading Comprehension Lessons
  • Executive Function Activities
  • Brain-Body Connection Activities
  • Video and Audio Lessons
  • Weekly Schedule and Planning Forms
  • Graphic Organizers
  • Easy Online Access
  • Help and Support

Our Summer Reading Program is the ultimate learning program that you can do over summer. We have designed it with the secret sauce to help your kids use their brains more efficiently and actually improve their reading skills over summer. Summer learning loss can now be a thing of the past.

Sign up for our Summer Reading Program.

Who is Scholar Within?

Scholar Within was founded by learning expert Bonnie Terry, M. Ed., BCET. Bonnie started designing and developing her own custom educational tools when she started her private learning center in the 1990s. Teachers kept asking what she was using with the kids that saw her because of the dramatic improvements that the kids made in school. From here, Bonnie decided to make her materials available to teachers and families worldwide.

Now, Bonnie Terry has turned her materials into a full-service online program that you can follow step-by-step at home and on your schedule. School alone is not enough anymore. Bonnie’s programs boost your kids overall learning skills by focusing on improving the auditory, visual, and tactile processing areas of your brain to make it work more efficiently.

Learn More about Scholar Within

The Visual Processing System: How Does it Impact Learning?

Visual processing often means how well you discriminate between one letter and another or one word and another. This is prominent with kids who confuse letters, also known as letter reversals. Below are some examples of letters and words that kids mix up:

  • b and d
  • p and q
  • was and saw
  • felt and fell
  • bad and dab

Just scanning the letters and words above, it is understandable how it can be easy for kids to mix the letters and words up. The shapes are not that different from each other. When we work on our brain’s visual discrimination abilities, we fine-tune our ability to see the differences in shapes of letters and words.

Scholar Within Summer Reading Program

More Than Just Seeing Differences

There is more to visual processing than just seeing the differences in shapes of words and letters. Visual processing directly impacts your ability to learn, read, and retain information. Learning in school is typically directed at visual processing 75% of the time. So, to do well in school and in life, developing your visual system is critical. One of the great things about visual processing and its 9 sub-categories is that the skills involved with visual processing are learned skills and they can and do improve when you do specific visual activities.

Visual processing is the process of how your eyes receive information and the steps involved to process and understand that information. This involves eye-hand coordination, discrimination, your ability to combine shapes and letters to form objects or words. This also involves your ability to visually remember seeing something, move your eyes from left to right efficiently, and more.

The Visual Processing System Explained

Visual Processing

Let’s take a step back to understand this a bit more. One thing is very clear. We all receive information through our five senses: smell, taste, hearing, seeing, and doing. Within each of those senses, there are subcategories. The sense of smell can sense sweet, pungent, savory, floral, etc. The sense of taste can break down foods into salty, sweet, bitter, or sour. Within hearing (auditory processing), seeing (visual processing), and doing (tactile/kinesthetic processing), there are 9 sub-categories each. And, when you want to optimize learning, pay attention to what you are doing signals to address each of these auditory, visual, and tactile/kinesthetic systems.

Visual Processing and Brain-Based Learning

There is a compelling argument to include a variety of visual activities to improve reading and overall learning skills. According to the research from Early Choice Pediatric Therapy, once a child enters school, about 75% of the classroom activities are directed through visual processing pathways. Additionally, when we think about the human brain, about 40% of the brain is involved in one form or another with visual processing. (National Vision Research Institute of Australia)

Let me explain… Upon visual input, visual signals leave the eye and follow a path into the superior colliculus in the brainstem. This is where the electrical impulses react and control all eye movements. These eye movements include blinking, dilating pupils, and tracking objects that are moving or tracking a line of words. The optic nerve then forms synapses and sends neurons to the occipital lobe of the cerebral cortex. This pathway is responsible for experiencing and controlling visual perception. The input comes from both eyes. The right cortex receives impulses from the left orbit. The left cortex receives input from the right orbit. Once these visual signals are sent to the cerebral cortex, the cortex processes them and makes sense of them.

Research Behind Visual Processing

Research on eye movements has been going on for many years. The 2009 eye movement study by Levy, Bickness, Slattery, and Raynor shows that eye movements are based on the visual perceptual input. This input is combined with grammatical language input (the word order within a sentence). Every reader combines the perceptual input with sentence structure to guide the saccadic movement of their eyes.  Saccades are the rapid movements of the eyes.

For example, the word flour is reread more often in sentence 1a than in sentence 1b or than the word wheat in sentence 1c):

1a. He swept the flour that he spilled.

1b. The baker needed more flour for the special bread.

1c. He swept the wheat that he spilled.

Reading involves saccades, rapid eye movements.

These rapid eye movements and tracking movements are separated by fixations when the eyes are relatively still. Saccade movements typically travel about 6 to 9 letter spaces. They are not impacted by the size of print. The complete perceptual span typically extends to 14 or 15 letter spaces to the right and 3 to 4 spaces to the left. It is the saccade movement to the left combined with the perceptual span length that assures that every letter of every word enters the visual field.

About 10-15% of the time, readers also shift back (known as regression) to look back at the material that has already been read. And as the text becomes more difficult, saccade length tends to decrease and regression frequency increases. It is important to note that the space between words does facilitate fluent reading. When the spacing between words varies or is not available, reading is slowed by as much as 50%. The research further notes that efficient eye movement is more critical than generating predictions of upcoming words. Readers systematically move their eyes from left to right across the text. Then, they fixate on most of the content words. The processing associated with each word is very rapid, and the link between the eyes and the mind is very tight. Rayner, K. (1997) Scientific Studies of Reading, 1(4) pages 317-339.

Summer Reading Program 2019

Summer Reading Program incorporates the 9 Areas of Visual Processing

Scholar Within’s Summer Reading Program uses proven methods that improve your visual processing system:

  1. Reading fluency training
  2. Rapid naming activities
  3. Visual memory activities
  4. Visual discrimination activities
  5. Eye-aiming activities

Learn More about Summer Reading Program

Who is Bonnie Terry?

Bonnie Terry, M.Ed., BCET is the author of Five Minutes To Better Reading Skills, Ten Minutes To Better Study Skills, and numerous other books, reading games, and guides. She is a Board Certified Educational Therapist and internationally recognized as America’s Leading Learning Specialist and the founder of Scholar Within, Inc. Terry is an expert in identifying students’ learning disabilities. Ms. Terry coaches teachers and parents so they can give their child a 2 to 4-year learning advantage in just 45-60 minutes a day. She is a frequent media guest and speaker.