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.

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‘.

Scholar Within’s Reading Program incorporates 9 Areas of Auditory Processing

Scholar Within’s 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

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.

Reading Fluency Activities

Reading fluency activities are a great way to improve reading speed and accuracy. Reading fluency is the speed or rate of reading without conscious attention to the mechanics of reading. A fluent reader has the ability to read and understand words automatically.

Fluent readers are able to more easily comprehend complete sentences and entire reading selections. When readers understand entire reading selections, they are able to retain the information, analyze it, and use it in many different ways.

The more fluid and fast you read, your understanding of what you read becomes automatic and more fun. Reading can become an enjoyable activity for everyone. When you work on improving your reading fluency, you inherently improve your reading comprehension. Short, daily reading fluency activities are a perfect way to not only read faster, more fluidly, and efficiently but to also improve confidence.

Reading Fluency Activities

1. Reading Fluency Drills

Reading fluency drills are one of the best activities you can do to improve your reading fluency. With our custom-designed, phonetic-based drills, you work on improving the underlying brain processes of reading. When you do these drills, you target five areas of visual processing, six areas of auditory processing, and two areas of tactile/kinesthetic processing. This process also strengthens phonemic awareness and phonics skills at the same time. We do this in just 5-minutes a day and 3-5 days a week.

› Download the Free Reading Drill

How Scholar Within’s Reading Fluency Training Works:

  1. One Student, One Instructor
    You will need either a parent, teacher, tutor, or older sibling with your student.
  2. Gather Supplies: 2 Copies of the Drill
    • Both the student and instructor (parent, teacher, or older sibling) will each have copies of the same drill in front of them. The instructor’s copy has word counts on the side to be able to quickly figure out how many words the student has read.
    • Go to the Free Reading Fluency Drill Download Page
  3. Practice the Reading Drill (2-3 minutes)
    • We start by doing a practice read aloud from left to right, just as you would read normally.
    • If any mistakes are made, have the instructor correct the mistakes as they are made aloud.
    • Your student will not have to read all of the words on the drill of the practice read, just roughly the amount they will be able to read in a minute timed.
  4. Timed Reading Fluency Drill (1 minute)
    After you have done a brief practice read, you are ready for the timed drill.
    • Have the instructor use a stopwatch or the timer functionality on a phone.
    • Have the instructor keep track of mistakes discretely. We do this because sometimes students get flustered if they see that you have marked that they made a mistake and will not keep going.
    • Mistakes are: mispronounced words, skipped words, or repeated words.
    • Stop the drill at 1-minute.
  5. Chart Words-Per-Minute and Mistakes
    • Count the number of words the student read in the 1-minute timing along with the number of mistakes made.
    • Chart the words and mistakes in a daily chart. This way you can keep track of how many words your student has read per minute each day. You will start seeing mistakes per minute go down and words read per minute go up often in the first few days.
  6. Do the Reading Fluency Training 3-5 Times a Week
    • Continued daily fluency training in short increments will improve your kid’s skills faster than just reading alone.
  7. Set a Goal for Mastery
    • After the first time the student has done the practice read and then the timed reading of the drill, set a goal for them to be able to read about 5-25 more words per minute, depending on the student’s grade level/ability, always with a maximum of no more than 4 mistakes per minute.
  8. Move on to the Next Drill
    • Once the student has achieved mastery, move on to the next reading drill. We have over 50, custom-designed reading drills that start with the short vowel-consonant pattern and we work the way up all the way to multi-syllable, multi-pattern words.

Free Reading Fluency Activity Download

Many parents and teachers have asked if they could try our reading fluency activities, so we have made the first reading drill available to download.

Reading Fluency Activities - Directions

Download Reading Fluency Drill

2. Repeated Readings

Repeated reading is another type of reading fluency practice. This is where a student reads a single passage multiple times in order to reach accuracy and improve their speed of reading the passage. This process typically improves the student’s ability to read automatically without pronunciation errors while maintaining their comprehension of the reading selection. The focus is on reading quality rather than on reading speed. 

3. Choral Readings

Choral reading is another way to practice reading fluency. In this method, students read along with a more experienced reader. Several students can also simultaneously choral read together with a more experienced reader. Choral reading helps the student pick up reading fluency, expression, and intonation.

4. Paired Reading (Take Turns Reading)

Paired reading is another way to improve reading fluency. In this strategy, students take turns reading the text to each other. This can also be done by a parent reading a paragraph or page and the student reads the next paragraph or page. We did this often as a family, taking turns with each child reading a paragraph or page and then the next one would read, or I would read. Alternating readings are great for students to be able to understand the correct intonation of sentences.

Understanding Why Reading Fluency is Important

Read the sentence, “Sally can go to the store.” Then several pages later, you get to the questions and one question asks, “Why couldn’t Sally go to the store?” The question doesn’t make any sense to you, because you read Sally can go to the store. Upon going back and re-reading, you find that the sentence really said, “Sally can’t go to the store.” The whole meaning was lost by skipping the apostrophe t in the word can’t. That is one way that reading fluency problems impact comprehension.

Your ability to read fluently starts with phonemic awareness and phonics. It is the ability to take the patterns of sounds (phonological structures) and sound-symbol relationship (orthographic structures) and being able to recognize it quickly enough to gain meaning from it. This process of quickly or rapidly recognizing word structures helps you to understand entire sentences automatically.

When you are a fluent reader, you are able to read without thinking about the mechanics of reading. S. Jay Samuels started doing research in the 1970s. In 2006, he states, “Comprehension requires the fluent mastery of the surface-level aspects of reading.”

What does research say?

Reading fluency is about learning the patterns of the spoken and written word. When you start to see patterns in how words are written, you become more fluent. Because of this, fluency training that focuses on the phonemic and phonic components of words helps us to read a text more rapidly. Mark Seidenberg, author of Language at the Speed of Light states, “Reading brings in regularities in how letters combine and how orthography relates to phonology and meaning.” Practicing reading with a phonological and phonic basis, helps you to recognize and retain words quickly. This, then, makes reading easier and more fluent.

As early as 1886, one of the first reading fluency researchers, psychologist William MacKeen Cattell, discovered that you can read a word (like ‘tiger’) faster than you can name a picture of a pouncing feline creature!

Cattell was the first person to recognize that we become quite ‘automatic’ when we read. In fact, we are more automatic when reading than when speaking. So, learning to read automatically is a huge achievement for our brain. This is a capacity that we have, learning something so well that we can do it almost without thinking.

Reid Lyon, Ph.D. (1997) states in his article Why Reading Is Not a Natural Process, “If beginning readers read the words in a laborious, inefficient manner, they cannot remember what they read, much less relate the ideas to their background knowledge. Thus, the ultimate goal of reading instruction–for children to understand and enjoy what they read-will not be achieved.”

How does reading fluency fit into the 5-principles of reading?

Reading fluency activities are important for every student to do. It is the third principle of reading. Fluency brings together phonemic awareness and phonics so that you can read words, sentences, and paragraphs quickly. When you are able to read quickly, you typically understand and comprehend what you have read.

There are ways to improve your fluency. Fluency training is one of the easiest things a parent can do for their child. It requires little time and minimal experience.

For more direct instruction on improving reading skills that include fluency training with phonemic awareness and phonics, the alphabetic principle, reserve your spot for our Reading Program. Here, Bonnie teaches these skills to you, step-by-step through audio and video lessons. The program integrates fluency training, phonemic awareness and phonics seamlessly.

Best Practices for Teaching Phonics

Phonics is the ability to pair individual sounds with a visual symbol (letters). This method is frequently used to teach reading. Phonics teaches the sounds that letters or groups of letters make when spoken. Phonics is the process of matching sounds to letters. Reading experts refer to this as the alphabetic principle. This process is where the auditory (sounds) are integrated with the visual symbols. This is known as auditory-visual integration.

Phonics is the second principle in the process of reading and joins the first principle, phonemic awareness. The alphabetic principle and phonemic awareness do go hand in hand. Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate individual sounds in spoken words. Phonics, on the other hand, takes that a step further. Phonics is the ability to pair individual sounds with a visual symbol (letters). So, what are the best practices for teaching phonics? Continue reading.

How do we teach phonics?

We start teaching phonics early on when we match a word that is given aloud to a picture of it. This is typically started in preschool and/or kindergarten. The goal of teaching the Alphabetic Principle, phonics, is to help children grasp the idea that letters and letter patterns represent the sounds of spoken language. Specific phonics instruction helps children learn the relationship between written and spoken language.

For example, if I were to say show me the picture of a cat, and the student pointed to the cat, they would pair the spoken word with a visual representation. A next step might be pointing to the picture that begins with the /d/ sound (ex: desk). Once that is established you would then ask the student to match the sound of /d/ to the letter /d/, after teaching the students that these squiggly lines (letters) stand for the sound of the letters.

The Alphabetic Principle

The alphabetic principle is the understanding that individual sounds are paired with visual symbols (letters). Students start to learn the alphabetic principle by:

  • Acquiring and remembering letter names.
  • Acquiring and remembering letter shapes.
  • Matching letter sounds with their written form (shape).

Best Practices for Teaching Phonics

  • Teach the letter-sound relationship in a clear and detailed way and in isolation.
    • Start with teaching the beginning sound and letter for your kids’ names.
    • Teach your kids name written out, you can do this by putting their name at their place where they sit at the dinner table.
  • Then start with these letters: f, m, n, r, and s as they can be pronounced easily in isolation.
    • Teach five additional sounds: a, i, e, m, t.
    • Then you can make words with them: at, it, fat, mat, sat, rat, fan, tan, man, ten, set, sit, met, and Mitt.
    • Next, make sentences with them: I see MatMat sits.
  • Next, give multiple opportunities each day to practice the sound-symbol relationships.
    • Label objects in their rooms and around the house. Ask them what other objects they would like to label i.e.: dresser, bed, tub, door, etc.
    • On the way to school, practice the names of the letters with their sound and even a word that begins with that sound.
    • Think of rhyming words with /at/. This is a great way to introduce additional letter-sound relationships (at, cat, fat, hat, etc.)
  • Review daily previously taught sounds-symbols and gradually add new sound-symbols (letters).
  • Practice and apply these sound-symbol relationships with phonetically spelled words that are familiar to them.

For more direct instruction on improving reading skills with phonemic awareness and the alphabetic principle, learn more about our Reading Program. The program integrates both phonemic awareness and phonics seamlessly with step-by-step activities and video lessons.

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7-Day Trial - After-School Reading Program

How does phonics fit into the other principles of reading?

“Mark Seidenberg, a cognitive neuroscientist and author of the book “Language at the Speed of Sight,” states, “Phonics is crucial when it comes to learning how to read. Surrounding kids with good books is a great idea, but it’s not the same as teaching children to read.”

Kids struggle to read when schools leave phonics out.

Phonics is the second principle of reading instruction. As you read the list of the Five Principles, you will see how one principle builds upon the next. You can’t learn phonics without the ability to discern individual sounds. And, you can’t become fluent without the foundation of phonemic awareness and phonics.

The Five Principles of Reading

  1. Phonemic Awareness
  2. Phonics
  3. Fluency
  4. Vocabulary
  5. Comprehension

When you bridge phonemic awareness with phonics, you create a strong foundation of the building blocks of language, reading, and spelling. By taking this a step further and learning the spelling patterns, you can learn to spell thousands of words by following the patterns.

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.

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 on the mechanics of reading. Reading becomes easy.

After-School Reading Program with Spelling and Phonics

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 out loud 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 Reading Programs provide you with those specific activities, improving your overall reading skills.

After-School Reading Program with Spelling and Phonics

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

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

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