You’ve waved goodbye to your little one at the school gates for the first time. It’s an exciting time for parents, teachers and children.

The new school year begins with fun, friendships and the first golden sight words. As our five year olds begin school there’s a natural expectation that all children will learn to read, write and spell.

Most kids start school with some early literacy skills from parents and preschool. But what happens if your child struggles to learn to read and write?

The first sign is usually when children don’t pick up phonics or have difficulty with the school sight words – sometimes called tricky words. What’s tricky for parents is navigating the system to establish a clear path forward to help your child, if things unravel.

Your teacher may say wait and see. Your motherly instinct may tell you otherwise. Many kids will take to school like a duck to water but for some the road will be a little more challenging.

Helping Your Child Read Write & Spell

“It is clear that there are many opportunities for us to do more for children with dyslexia in our region; from elevating local awareness about dyslexia, attracting more specialist professionals to the region, teacher training, and developing resources for parents and teachers to be available in all schools in the Hastings.”
~ Mary Cameron, Speech Pathologist Port Macquarie

Early Intervention Key to Success

The advice offered by Learning Difficulties Australia is to seek early intervention as soon as possible. Children with learning difficulties often have a deficit in phonological processing at word level as well as difficulties in working memory, processing speed and oral language.

A recent report ‘Lifting Our Game – Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools through Early Childhood Interventions’ revealed twenty two percent of children start school developmentally vulnerable. The report states “children who start school behind stay behind so should get help earlier”.

Shining a light on literacy

Dyslexia Mid North Coast shines a light on literacy support and awareness.

Lighting the iconic Tacking Point Lighthouse red for dyslexia since 2016, Dyslexia Mid North Coast was founded to meet the need of parents looking for information and services.

“In 2015 it was difficult to find evidence based programs to help kids in Port Macquarie so we brought presenters and workshops to the region and have established connections to support families”, said co-founder Kelly King.

“What started as two mums connecting to support each other has morphed into a regional support group, community awareness and new services for the whole community”, added Kelly.

2018 saw the NSW Government announce funding for decodable readers for every kindergarten student. Parents are encouraged to ask their school for access to the readers which match phonics teaching sequences. Victorians are now petitioning for decodable readers in their State.

As we begin 2021 there’s more local support available and some fabulous resources online. Here’s a quick summary to get you started.

Mid North Coast Literacy Services

Growing Minds Speech Pathology Port Macquarie

After many years working in the public health and university sector Jane Mackenzie (nee Ossedryver) established her own practice located in the heart of Port Macquarie.

Jane offers therapy for reading and spelling intervention using systematic synthetic phonics instruction, phonemic and phonological awareness skill development, vocabulary and oral language skill, and reading comprehension skills.

“Best-practice research supporting the right interventions for children with language and communication difficulties is readily available. It’s important to combine this research with clinical expertise to support the right interventions for children with language and communication difficulties”, said Jane.

Additional services include speech, language, play, stuttering and feeding.

Learn more about Growing Minds Speech Pathology.

Lab Learning Port Macquarie

Expanding services to Port Macquarie in 2019, Lab Learning therapists use Multisensory Structured Language (MSL) and Orton-Gillingham (OG) Approach; recognised as one of the most effective interventions for language based learning difficulties.

Also commonly referred to as MSL, OG is heralded as “the gold standard for the treatment and remediation of dyslexia” by the Australian Dyslexia Association.

Multisensory learning involves visual (seeing), auditory (hearing) and tactile/kinesthetic (movement) to support learning in dynamic and engaging therapy session.

Learn more about LAB Learning Clinic.

The Early Connections Literacy Team Port Macquarie

Launching in 2019 Early Connections therapists, reading tutors and psychologists support families with diagnosis, intervention and support. The Literacy Team is open to all children aged 4-12 years.

Early Connections have offered early childhood intervention for children with disabilities for over 25 years. The team is well positioned to expand current services to support children struggling with literacy.

Speech Pathologist Mary Cameron said, “We’ve delivered workshops to local schools and teachers aides to support evidence based reading instruction. Students who struggle need explicit instruction to break the code of reading. They need to be taught how letters represent speech sounds. Our tutors are all trained in Sounds Write and we look forward to helping more children to set them up for success.”

Learn more about Early Connections.

Tiny Einsteins Port Macquarie

Educational consultant Emily Lipscombe’s popular Tiny Einsteins program started in 2018 with a systematic synthetic phonics program for preschoolers at Port Macquarie Library. She is offering limited private tuition in 2019 and will expand her services in 2020.

Emily assists students who experience difficulty with reading, writing and spelling. By identifying which phonemes a child has trouble with and explicitly teaching these through using decodable texts and the spelling rules. Emily is trained in Macquarie University MiniLit Program.

Learn more about Tiny Einsteins.

Triple Thread Learning Coffs Harbour

New to Coffs Coast in 2018 Triple Thread Learning was established by Claire Murphy and Sonja O’Connor – two experienced Coffs Coast teachers and consultants.

Triple Thread Learning specialises in providing one-on-one and small group therapy and reading/language instruction for people with a dyslexic profile aged 4 years through to adults.

Their approach is tailored to meet the needs of each individual through research-based multisensory, systematic instruction based on Orton-Gillingham (OG) and Multisensory Structured Language (MSL).

Learn more about Triple Thread Learning.

Wendy Savaris MSL Specialist Educator – AMADA – Coffs Harbour

Dyslexia Mid North Coast member Wendy Savaris is now offering one-on-one Multisensory Structured Language (MSL) Sessions in her tutoring room in Coffs Harbour.

Wendy supports those with literacy difficulties by teaching explicitly and systematically with a phonics sequence and multisensory techniques.

Learn more about Wendy Savaris MSL Specialist Educator.

Online resources for parents

Tutoring Services

Discover tutoring services, opportunities and support that exist for your family in Port Macquarie.