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Developing Literacy Skills

There are hundreds of excellent programmes available which support the development of basic skills in reading, phonics, spelling, and maths. However, it must be remembered that no computer programme is a substitute for individualised specialist teaching. Many programmes will also come in a range of different levels; it is important to choose the right level for each individual. Catalogues of educational software can be obtained from many of the specialist suppliers listed at the end of this section. The programmes mentioned below are examples of the types commonly used. Their inclusion is for information purposes only and does not constitute a recommendation from the Dyslexia Association of Ireland.

There are many literacy programmes available which provide a useful learning aid to practise and develop reading, phonics, spelling, etc. Especially for younger readers, there is a wide selection of talking books available, e.g. the Wellington Square and Oxford Reading Tree schemes.

Wordshark, based on the ‘Alpha to Omega’ programme, combines the excitement of computer games with learning to spell and read. It offers 41 games that use sound, graphics and text to teach and reinforce word recognition and spelling. New words and vocabularies can also be added.

Wordswork is the more advanced programme from the makers of Workshark. Wordswork is designed for older students, second, third level and adults.  As well as reading and spelling it also has sections on memory, writing skills, study techniques.

The Lexia reading series helps students to strengthen skills through interactive exercises working on areas such as phonemic awareness, decoding skills and comprehension.

Starspell helps develop spelling skills from younger children to adults. It uses the Look-Cover-Write-Check strategy. Every word is spoken and many have pictures. It is also possible to create personal word lists and subject specific vocabularies.

Nessy Reading Spelling is designed to reinforce spelling, reading and listening skills in a multi-sensory way.  Nessy Learning also have a wide range of apps available for tablets and smartphones, such as Hairy Letters, Hairy Phonics and Hairy Words. These are fun, multi-sensory games for helping with the development of reading and spelling skills.

Words Worth Learning is an online literacy programme that aims to address reading and spelling difficulties. It can be used both in school and at home with learners from age 6 upwards.

My Reading Coach offers a comprehensive reading programme aimed at phonetic awareness, pronunciation, word building skills, grammar and reading comprehension. After an initial test, it sets out an individual programme for a child, focussing on the areas that needs development. Builds in lots of repetition and reinforcement, and monitors progress.

There are many other programmes which target specific areas, such as reading comprehension and cloze procedures, auditory discrimination and phonics, the magic ‘e’ rule, etc. These can be useful motivational tools to reinforce learning.

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DAI activities are part-funded by the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Scheme to Support National Organisations 2016-2019 administered by Pobal), the Special Education Section of the Department of Education and Skills, SOLAS and KWETB.