Month: January 2022

“A Day in the Life” (2022 Version)

 “Woke up, fell out of bed
Dragged a comb across my head
Found my way downstairs and drank a cup
And looking up, I noticed I was late
Found my coat and grabbed my hat
Made the bus in seconds flat
Found my way upstairs and had a smoke
And somebody spoke and I went into a dream

                                           (From “A Day in the Life,”  John Lennon & Paul McCartney”)

Inspired by recently hearing one of favorite Beatles songs, “A Day in the Life,”  I thought an updated  version of “A Day in the Life” would be fun.

This time it would be a day in the life of a typical 14-year-old boy.

Brandon, a young man who sees me periodically, filled me in on a typical day.

Here’s a re-creation of a conversation I had with him:

“So, Brandon, your mother is telling me you do nothing. You’re up in your room for hours.  Fill me in.  Let’s make believe we’re watching a video of  a typical day in your life, after you get home from school.”

(Keep in mind his mother was sitting next to him as he walked me through it.)

“Well, I get home before 3:00 and I go up in my room,” Brandon tells me.

“So, what are you doing up there,” I ask

“I get on my Xbox and start playing.”

“How long are you playing?

“Maybe until about 4:30,” Brandon says, “and then I start watching TV or go on YouTube or watch a movie on Netflix. Then I either play some more Xbox and have dinner from around 6:00 to 6:15.”

“Are you on your phone during any of this?”

“Oh, yeah, I’m texting the whole time with my friends. I text them during dinner too.”

“What about any school work?  Does that ever come up for you?”

“A little. Maybe  about 7:00 for about 10 or 15 minutes then I go back on YouTube and Netflix or play some more Xbox until about 11:00.”

(At this point his mother has turned various colors as she listens to all of this.  She’s astounded he’s being as honest as he is.)

“How about weekends?  What are they like for you?

“Pretty much the same thing.  I get up around 11:00 on Saturday and start playing Xbox and going no YouTube.  Then I do that the rest of the day.”

Takeaway Point

A day in the life in 2022 is a little different than it was when the Beatles told us about it.

I think I will go go back to the Beatles rather than Xbox.                                                                      

                 I read the news today, oh boy
                 Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire
                 And though the holes were rather small
                 They had to count them all
                Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall

                                            (From,  “A Day in the Life,” Lennon & McCartney)


Part III: “Helping Your Struggling Reader & Dyslexic Child at Home”

Within the last two blog posts, we discussed the foundation needed to understand how to work at home with your struggling child.

While moving forward there is one overriding principle that is important to stress, that is –


Understand that what is being recommended here is not meant to replace a more in-depth reading remediation using methods supported in the research such as those that are Orton-Gillingham based.

These recommendations are the equivalent of shooting baskets or having a catch with your child – they could help to reinforce skills and they’re fun.

Using “Old School” Index Cards

While working with the child at home, the recommendation is that you use “old school” index cards for practicing words and sensitizing your child to different syllables within complex words.

As a first step, look at the reading assigned or the worksheets that have been given.  Ask the child to read these out loud to you.  Any words that the child stumbles on should be entered on an index card.

For example, let’s say the words dinosaur or porcupine are hard for your child to read.  On an index card using a bright marker, write the words down and underline the parts with the marker:

(e.g., di no saur) or porcupine (por cu pine)

Over time, you will develop a fairly large bank of words that can be played with in different ways.

The ultimate goal is to help your child to recognize the parts of the word, while being able to read the whole word automatically.  Make the activity fun by using things like stickers as reinforcements.

Spend about 10-15 minutes on this type of activity on a consistent basis, but don’t overdo it.  (You wouldn’t have a catch all morning.)

Practicing Fluency

Find reading material that you know is on your child’s independent reading level (that is, the level where the material is relatively easy). You can use material that is slightly above the easy level, but you don’t want to go too far beyond that point.

For about 10 minutes have your child read out loud. Make it fun and lively. After the reading put a big green check on a calendar if the child read with good attitude (i.e., no whining or complaining). After a week or so of green checks, go out for a small reward (like an ice cream sundae).

The point of this routine is that practicing is key. This is particularly important for children with dyslexia.

Takeaway Point

It will be warming up soon. Get outside and shoot some baskets and have a catch in the backyard.

Copyright, 2021
Questions or comments email Dr. Selznick:

Part II: Helping Your Struggling Reader & Dyslexic Child at Home

In last week’s post we started the discussion of how to help struggling children at home, many of whom are dyslexic (Helping Child at Home: Part I )

The case of Ruth helps further set the stage.

Ruth, a Case Study

To illustrate the experience of a child on the rough road, let’s take Ruth, an eight-year-old third grader.  Ruth’s parents brought her to my office because they were concerned about her development in reading, spelling, and writing.

The evaluation that was conducted with Ruth revealed that she was not a smooth or efficient reader.  When the words became somewhat more complex in the second to the third grade, Ruth started to guess the words, often with nonsense word substitutions, based on their visual configurations.  For instance, she guessed “croty” for “country” or “penereer” for “pioneer.”

When Ruth read stories out loud her reading was choppy and strained.  There was no fluency and her reading sounded like she was driving down a dirt road with lots of potholes in the road.

Listening to her read was painful.

By the middle of third grade, Ruth became overtly frustrated.

However, when the school district reviewed Ruth’s evaluation, they did not feel that Ruth’s problems warranted classifying her with a learning disability.

Their reasoning was that many of her scores on the school standardized tests fell in the lower portion of the “average” range. Effectively, this decision negated the possibility that Ruth would receive any extra help in reading.

Although Ruth clearly struggled in reading, spelling, and writing, her problems were not deemed severe enough to classify her as a special education student.

A Few Tough Realities

Ruth’s story highlights some tough realities that I encounter almost daily in my professional practice, causing a huge impact on children and their families. These realities may be difficult to discuss, but they are important to understand, so you can mobilize and take effective action.

First, when a child struggles in reading a “full-court press” is needed to target the deficient skills.

The more severe the problem, the more intensive the focus needs to be.

Over the decades, a great deal of accumulated research indicates that at least 20% or more of the population that enter first grade predisposed to experience mild, moderate, or severe reading, spelling, and writing issues.  They can be identified with basic screening tools.

If they show any of the classic indicators, they need help.  Some of them may be classified as eligible for special education later, many will not.

Like Learning a Sport or a Musical Instrument

It has long been my basic view that the processes of learning to read, spell, and write are no different than learning to play a sport (e.g., tennis, golf, etc.) or a musical instrument.  Following the direct instruction, there needs to be a great deal of guided practice, so that the skills become a more automatic part of the person’s skill repertoire and are internalized

(More to follow in future posts.)

(Excerpt from “Helping Your Dyslexic Child & Struggling Reader at Home,” Richard Selznick, Ph.D. w/ Lorna Wooldridge, M.A.)

Copyright, 2021
Questions or comments email Dr. Selznick:

Helping Your Struggling Reader at Home – Part I

Imagine you are a child about to ride a bicycle, with a group of other children led by a teacher. You are anxious because you kept a big secret from the teacher and your friends.

You don’t know how to ride a bike yet.  You’ve tried, but you just can’t get the hang of it.

The ride starts.  Everyone takes off. You try to pedal the bike, but are quickly left behind. Well-meaning adults come over to help, but their efforts are futile.  You are left in the dust.

At this point in my career I have worked with a large number of children who feel this way in school. They struggle in key areas of development, especially reading, spelling, and writing, while their peers seem to move forward effortlessly.

Falling behind in these basic skill areas can have a devastating impact on both the child and the family. This causes a bottleneck in all other academic areas, which includes mathematics, with its emphasis on word problems.

This bottleneck effect becomes particularly apparent around third grade, when reading becomes more complex and dense. Many of the words at the third grade level are larger, multisyllabic, and uncommon.

Both teachers and parents rightfully want to encourage a love of reading in children. But the truth is that no one, young or old, wants to do an activity in which they feel inadequate, and this causes resistance. But if you can help your struggling child develop specific skills and gain confidence, they may overcome their resistance and discouragement.

Most parents of the children of these children are naturally eager for the school to address their child’s issues.

While some children may be classified with a learning disability and given appropriate remediation, many children never receive support from the school, despite their difficulties.  The children’s issues are not deemed severe enough to warrant classification.

Parents will ask: “What can I do at home to help my struggling child?”  This is a fair question.  No one will have your child’s interests at heart like you do, and no one will feel as motivated to do the vital extra work to help them.

Too often, parents are given limited and overly simplistic advice, such as, “Just read to your child,” as the only major option. While reading to your child is wonderful,  exposing them to stories and ideas and enables you to bond with the child, this activity does little to foster the fundamental skills in decoding or reading fluency.

The good news, and the premise of the blog posts that follow, is that there are specific activities you can do to help your child improve their skills in areas of concern.  

Stay tuned in future weeks.

(Excerpt from “Helping Your Dyslexic Child & Struggling Reader at Home,” Richard Selznick, Ph.D. w/ Lorna Wooldridge, M.A.)


Copyright, 2021
Questions or comments email Dr. Selznick:


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