Working WITH our brain

The extra letters spoken will have activated more of the brain ‘compartments’ and the extra pause will allow the brain to assemble its thoughts without any stress or rush.

Trick #4 Keep spelling the word, but try and do it in chunks or groups of letters that you may know or be able to hear.

Our brain naturally assembles information into related groups, so by spelling big words like ‘pathology’ our brain finds it easier to work with two chunks of ‘path’ and ‘ology’. This way it has only got two things to search for, rather than the nine individual letters. As the brain becomes more accustomed to the chunks, it will be able to use them over and over. Path-ology, bi-ology, ge-ology, psych-ology, myth-ology.

Trick #5 Repeat spelling the word at least four times and more if you have the time.
Our brain does not know what is important and what isn’t. We can tell our brain what to remember and what is important by repeating it several times.

For further information contact Tyquin Speech and Reading clinic on 33998028 or
access free literacy resources on or DIY resources on


There is a natural transition towards silent reading, as young readers develop in their proficiency and this is strongly encouraged at school.


Research supports this in an effort to have children ‘own’ their reading and it might also be helpful for teachers trying to maintain a learning environment in their ‘quiet’ classrooms.


There is a consequence to silent reading though.


Children entering the silent reading phase of their development are also entering the period where acquisition of new vocabulary accelerates. This is a fantastic opportunity for reading to progress and if done well can really make a difference, but conversely, if done poorly can have consequences.


A recent case that highlighted this was a teenager in Year 10. We will call her Ruby. At 14 years old, when school should have been exciting, Ruby was floundering.


Looking at Ruby’s history, it showed that at the normal age of about 8 years old, she stopped reading out loud to her parents and continued with silent reading. Being a bright young lady, she did well at school in those early years but with each passing grade there was a steady decline, until it was obvious that something was wrong.


Our first step at the Tyquin Reading Clinic was to thoroughly assess Ruby in order to identify any underlying causes to explain with her reading difficulties.


The testing revealed numerous weaknesses.


In order to assist Ruby, we commenced with a two week computer-based intensive intervention and then moved onto Behavioural Reading, a newly developed technique, whereby the skill and technique ‘set’, typically exhibited by all proficient readers, is formally instructed to the student.


It was at this point that the relationship between misreading new words and them being incorrectly imprinted in association with the target word, could be seen.


When listening to Ruby read out loud, it was quite apparent that she would frequently read a different word from what was on the page. Delving further showed that she could spell the word, could define the meaning and place the word in a sentence. Yet with all these abilities, she would still misread the same word, substituting a viable alternative in its place. Such examples would be seeing the word excited and saying exciting or seeing exist and saying excite.


These errors are very easy to identify when the child is reading out loud, but when children are reading silently, parents can be blissfully unaware of the errors the child is making over and over again.


As with icebergs, what we see on the surface and what lies beneath are often very different. If Ruby is misreading such words, is it the fault of how she is seeing the whole word, how she works at the sound level, how she sees the chunks within words, how she initially imprinted it or how her language is interpreting the semantics?


Any of these could be quite significant in compounding Ruby’s reading and learning problems, as it seems that incorrect imprinting appears to render the brain less efficient. Using an analogy of the kitchen cutlery drawer, where each item is placed in the wrong place, like the ‘spoons’ are in the tray marked ‘knife’, extra effort would be needed to retrieve these items. Confusion, fatigue and indecision would all be consequences of incorrect storage.


In Ruby’s early years, hundreds of such errors were imprinted. As a teenager, she now has poor association between the actual word and reading it correctly, but a very strong association between some words and their errors.


The home solution is very simple. Simply take time to hear your children read out loud, no matter their age. Even if they are doing some Maths, have them do it out loud also. It is remarkable. Just like putting a window to their brain, you can really hear and see into the inner workings of their thinking, reasoning, calculating, retrieving and reading.


If you have any concerns about your child’s reading or spelling, call Tyquin Group on (07) 33998028 to discuss your child’s individual circumstances. or

Why can’t they see it?

Isn’t it great reading a good book?  You join the author on a journey of images, emotions and ideas. Ask any lover of books whether they prefer reading the book or seeing its movie and invariably it will be the book. Why?


It has to do with the journey taken whilst reading which is fuelled by the book but manifests in the reader’s own imagination. It is this uniqueness of how they see the characters and their interactions with each other, that can make a story so wonderful.


So what changes when we see a movie?

The movie may not resemble how we may have ‘pictured’ the characters or the shape or placement of items, the mood, the weather, the light and dark or its shades.  Instead, the movie is how the movie director and writer interprets and imagines the book


What is really being described here is a comparison of comprehension from a text and how it manifests in the mind compared to being given visual and auditory images. This conversion of ideas in a text to actual images, sounds etc., is the actual neurological process of comprehension. To state it a different way, if you read the sentence: The three pigs sat on the floor; it is essential that you can literally close your eyes and picture the scene in your imagination.


Try this little exercise.

Read the following lines one at a time and try to conjure the feeling, image, smell, taste etc that is cued by the sentence.


Smell a strawberry (Can you smell it?). Smell a horse. Smell a fish. Hear a trumpet.  Hear a siren. Taste a hot curry. Taste an apple. See a rainbow. See a ship. See your pet. Feel cold. Feel wind on your face.


Now ask you child to close their eyes and picture something like their pet or a ship. Ask them to see their name inside their mind and then spell it backwards when they can see it.


Either one of two things will generally happen. They will spell their name backwards, RETEP for Peter or they won’t. They will see their dog or not, usually saying, ‘no I can’t see him, it’s black.’ See a ship. What can you see? ‘Nothing, it’s just black!’ Ok then try and smell a fish.


Your child is really going to know you have lost the plot now. All your cred will be gone.


Don’t despair, what you are seeing is whether the neural wiring exists for this particular imagination process. By neural wiring I mean that from the auditory cue of “smell a fish” which is ‘heard’ in their ears, the brain must then process the idea and take it to the ‘smell’ part of the brain. In a similar way, when we hear or read a word like ‘ship’, we can take it to the imaging region in the right hemisphere and conjure the image or take it to the smell part of the brain and perhaps smell the ocean associated with a ship.


Get the idea?


So what happens for the child who cannot ‘see’ an image of a fish when they read?


‘The shiny fish swam around the pink coral’. I am guessing that you have a clear image of our shiny fish but your child won’t. This is the critical point. This is the critical neurology of comprehension. If this is not happening, practising comprehension over and over isn’t really going to help.


The link that allows this ‘seeing’ must be built within the child’s brain. It is achieved with specially targeted exercises that first create and then strengthen the ‘wiring’ until it becomes part of the very fabric of the child’s intellect.


It’s exciting that the ‘seeing’ can usually be created very quickly with a skilled practitioner. Then with practise, reading longer passages and coping with increasingly complex ideas will all become child’s play!


Many people are skilled to assist with comprehension. For help, consider contacting your teacher, a speech pathologist, a psychologist or tutor. Tyquin Group Speech Pathology and Reading Clinic may also be contacted on 33998028.


Learning to read and spell can be difficult, particularly if there are underlying difficulties with phonological awareness. Phonological awareness is a metalinguistic skill that requires the ability to reflect upon the structure of language and the ability to think about a word separate from its meaning. Phonological awareness is important as it has been linked to literacy outcomes at school. Research has found that those children who have struggled with phonological awareness will often experience difficulties with reading and spelling at school. Exposure to phonological awareness skills in the preschool years can help to prevent literacy difficulties once they reach school.


Early phonological awareness skills include syllable segmentation, and identification and production of rhyme. Syllable segmentation involves clapping or tapping out the beat of a word. The ability to chunk words into syllables is an important skill required for reading and spelling. When children are able to identify rhyme, the next step is to create rhyme. These skills help children identify familiar parts of words that can assist with reading and spelling.


Later phonological skills are at the sound level. Children need the ability to identify the sounds at the start and end of words and be able to identify when words contain the same sound. The ability to segment words into individual sounds is crucial for success in spelling. The ability to blend sounds together is extremely important for sounding out words and identifing what word those sounds create. Advanced skills at this level include the ability to manipulate the sounds in words by deleting, adding or changing them. An example may be “what is ‘hop’ without the ‘h’ (op)”, or “what word to do get if you add ‘s’ to the beginning of ‘top’ (stop)”.



You can help your child develop their phonological awareness skills. Reading books regularly to your child is one of the ways that you can introduce children to rhyme and awareness of print. Choose books with rhymes so that you can point them out to your child or see if they can find words that rhyme. Try leaving out the rhyming word in a familiar book and encourage your child to finish the sentence. One example from A Cat In The Hat by Dr Suess could be: “Look at me!
Look at me!
Look at me NOW!
It is fun to have fun,
but you have
to know…” (how).


To help you child hear syllables within words, try hitting a drum or clapping to the beat of a word. ‘Watermelon’ would be broken up into wa / ter / me / lon, or ‘helicopter’ into he / li / cop / ter.


Sound activities may include finding words that start with the same sound either in a book or from memory. You may try to name food items that begins with the sound /k/ like carrot, corn, cucumber, and cabbage. Try playing “I Spy” but instead of “I spy…. something beginning with M (letter)”, try, “I spy… something beginning with ‘mmmmm’ (sound). Play guessing games where you sound out a word and they need to guess what it is. Start with blending two sounds together and if they can do this, try blending three sounds together. Some examples may be, e / g (egg) or d / o / g (dog). Turn the game around so that your child sounds out the word and you need to guess what it is.


If your child has demonstrated difficulties learning to read and spell in the early years of schooling, it is encouraged that they see a Speech Pathologist for an assessment. Early intervention is important to achieve the best outcomes for your child’s literacy development.


If you would like to contact a speech pathologist you can visit the ‘Speech Pathology Australia’ website for your local speech pathologist or contact Tyquin Group Speech Pathology on 3399 8028.

What can Naplan tell us?

Naplan has received much press over the last couple of years and despite criticism by many professionals, it does provide parents with a snapshot of how an individual child is doing at school within the constraints of the test.


As a professional allied to the education industry through our reading and speech pathology clinic, it is possible to have a good understanding and awareness of why many of the reading problems present for our children.


Within the education system, 80% of the students will learn to read through any of the various methods that the child’s teacher may utilise.  However we also know that about 20% of the students will struggle, as the teaching methodology that is so satisfactory for the 80%, is often not suitable for the other 20%.  This is known as the 80/20 rule.  The very nature of a classroom with many children, forces the teachers to direct most of their teaching towards the middle of the group and neither towards the very top nor the very bottom.  This can sometimes disadvantage the very children who need help the most.   These children (20%) will require very specific teaching methods (dependent on their individual needs) in order to progress.  The Education system provides support to the classroom teacher by providing Learning Support departments to help these children.


Your child’s NAPLAN results can provide you with an opportunity to open a dialogue with your teacher and school about your child’s specific needs.


Many tutors, professional and private, are able to provide an excellent resource when underlying problems are minor and minimal catching up is needed, but if the problems are deeper, then the specialist reading clinic should be seriously considered.


When investigating the reading clinic, ask for evidence that shows they get the results they say.  Any clinic achieving results above the average can only measure this through the use of standardized tests and the data for these tests is usually easily collated and should be available for your scrutiny.


Reading clinics also become highly specialized and efficient at diagnosing and treating specific reading challenges. When a good fit between clinic and child is found, it is reasonable to expect that obvious progress is clearly visible to the parent.


NAPLAN, embrace it and use it to help your child. It is a great opportunity and I am sure it will be found to be advantageous to our struggling students and better understood by all.


If you are concerned about your child’s reading and or spelling, call us to discuss your child’s specific difficulties (Tyquin Group 33998028).  For more information see or

The Boutique Reading Clinic

Literacy is a hot topic in our community and so it should be.


The good news is that reading remediation has never been better, particularly with the help of boutique reading clinics.  These small clinics are often well placed to take advantage of the rapid growth in research and implement it in a timely manner. They are also able to tailor their services to an individual’s needs.


What is reading remediation and who needs it?

Children learn to read up until about 8 years of age and the essential neurology should be in place by this time.  Our schools actively teach reading up until the end of Grade 3, and then work on the assumption that the child can read in the older classes.


For the child who is older than 8 years old and is still struggling to read, they must be taught to read in a different manner to the initial ‘learn to read’ phase.  This involves retraining, removal of bad habits and supplemental exercises to repair missing information.  Neurologically, this is quite a different process from learning to read.


Agencies that remediate poor literacy are numerous, with schools being one of these and small, specialist reading clinics the rest.  Every clinic or school will purport to be effective, but whether they are going to be the most effective solution for your child is another matter.  Your own research and questions to the teacher or clinician will help shed light on the likelihood for a positive outcome.


Likelihood of success?

In our experience, a quick fix without effort is a rarity.  With effort though, it is usual that a good outcome for the child is achieved, allowing them to participate well at school and life beyond, without a reading disability.  For some children, this is more difficult to achieve and results can only be measured relative to how severe they were before the intervention.  Through the whole process though, it should be quite apparent, to the child and parent alike, that progress is being made and things are improving.  If not, then serious questions about the treatment and methods used, should be asked.


How long should remediation take?

Remediation done well will usually display good gains in 4-6 weeks and assure the parent and child that they are on the right track.  For this to occur, an accurate diagnosis of the problems is needed to allow for targeting of the treatment.


After the initial few weeks, ongoing help and support is needed to effect changes in the many things such as decoding skills, phonological awareness, development of working memory, efficient transfer from short term memory to long term memory, acquiring and catching up missing vocabulary, correcting behaviours associated with reading and altering behaviours and neurological sequencing from that of a non-proficient reader to that of a proficient reader.


Message:  Explore the benefits of the small boutique reading clinic and ask for evidence that shows they get the results they claim.  Any clinic achieving results above the average can only measure this through the use of standardized tests and the data for these tests is usually easily collated and should be available for your scrutiny.


What we do:


In our Tyquin Reading Clinic, we aim to help poor readers when other attempts have failed.  We willingly explore the best technology on offer in order to achieve the most effective results in the world.

Struggling to Read? What help is right for my child?

It is often difficult for a parent to know what help their child needs to help him with his reading.  Several options are presented to parents, including tutors, Learning Support Teachers, Learning Centres and Specialist Reading Clinics.  But every child’s needs are different and what is right or best for one child may not be the best option for another child.


Your child’s reading may be:


  • average
  • below average
  • seriously below average.


Your use of support services should be strategic and influenced by the level of assistance your child requires.


For the student of average abilities, where parents are wanting to help their child improve their performance, then the tutor is perfect.  Tutors come in many forms from commercial operators such as Kip McGrath, Fruition or Kumon to retired teachers or university students.


Learning Support Teachers (LST) are the professionals within the school who will support the student who is under-performing well below the average.  The LST will test the student and use their skills in order to raise the student’s performance.   However despite this individual help some children will still not improve or their progress will be very slow and limited.  These children often need specialist support in addition to the support they are receiving at school.


Specialists such as speech pathologists have a unique role in identifying, diagnosing and clinically treating children with more severe problems.  They are able to do this by accessing a broad range of assessment tools and using highly specific resources.  An in-depth assessment and the ensuing conversation will confirm that the speech pathologist  understands the specific nature of your child’s difficulties and should be able to clearly outline a strategy on how it may be resolved.  Your incentive to use these specialist clinics should come in that they are usually smaller and can be highly responsive to breakthroughs in the latest research.  It is also possible that their own research and development gives a further superior level of outcomes within their own practice.


Although the role that Paediatricians, Educational Psychologists and Occupational Therapists play in assisting a struggling learner is generally understood, the role of the  Speech Pathologist is often quite misunderstood.  Though the stereotypical lisp is treated, the severe presentations of language, learning, speaking, hearing and reading are also the domain of Speech Pathologists who are specialists in these fields. This places Speech Pathologists within the hierarchy of professionals, who will assist with the severely challenged student, as essential and one of the apex specialists. For the child who is not progressing with reading and learning, speak with your Speech Pathologist and identify the root cause of the problem.


For any questions regarding your child’s reading, please contact Tyquin Group on 33998028 to discuss your concerns. There is also interesting information on our website

Sound Play Makes all the Difference for your Child’s Literacy Learning

Now that your child has started school, are you wondering how they are growing in terms of their ability to read and write?  Children need to have the basics first!  We call the basic building blocks of reading and writing, ‘phonological awareness skills’.  This term refers to a child’s sound awareness, or their dawning understanding that words can rhyme, that they are made up of syllables and sounds, which can be changed around, broken up into parts and deleted to make new words or series of sounds.


Phonological awareness abilities have a general pattern of development, which is outlined below:


By Kindy, children can generally:

¨  Count how many words make up a sentence (e.g. ‘I / like / my / dog’ = 4 words)

¨  Detect rhyming words (e.g. “Yes, ‘see’ rhymes with ‘tree’”!)

¨  Make up series of words that rhyme (e.g. ‘mug’, ‘tug’, ‘bug’ . . . )

¨  Identify whether sounds are the same or different (e.g. ‘Are /p/ and /b/ the same?’).


By Prep, children can generally:

¨  Count the number of syllables in words by clapping (e.g. ‘gir-affe’ = 2 syllables; ‘croc-o-dile’ = 3 syllables)

¨  Matching alphabet letters with their corresponding sounds (e.g. The letter S makes the sound ‘sss’)

¨  Work out the first sound in a word (e.g. What sound does ‘bird’ start with? Yes /b/

¨  Work out the last sound in a word (e.g. What sound can you hear at the end of ‘duck’?  Yes /k/).


By Grade 1, children can generally:

¨  Blend together sounds that make up a simple word (e.g. ‘What do these sounds say? . . . ‘d’-‘o’-‘g’ You’re right, it’s dog)

¨  Break up simple words into sounds (e.g. “What are all of the sounds in ‘tap’”? . . . ‘t’-‘a’-‘p’).


Children who can separate out the individual sounds in words and blend them back together again more easily learn how the alphabet is used for reading and spelling.  They don’t have to rely on their memory of what words look like, which can easily become exhausted with the amount of words there are to learn.

Children very early in their schooling, also learn the following skills in manipulating words:

¨  Breaking up more difficult words containing consonant blends (e.g. “What are all of the sounds in ‘clap’”? . . . ‘c’-‘l’-‘a’-‘p’)

¨  Taking away sounds in words in order to make a new word, including those with consonant blends (e.g. ‘coat’ take away the /c/ leaves ‘oat’; and ‘bright’ take away the /b/ leaves ‘right’)

¨  Adding sounds to either the beginning, middle or end of words in order to make a new word (e.g. Add /t/ to the end of ‘ten’ = ‘tent’)

¨  Changing sounds to make a new word (e.g. “Say ‘bank’. Change the /k/ sound to a /d/ sound” = ‘band’)

¨  Moving sounds around in a word to make a new word (e.g. ‘tip’ to ‘pit’).


It is important to expose your child to as much sound and word play and as many books as possible so that your child has the best possible foundation for reading and spelling.  Expose to them the concept of reading from left to right and the concept that ‘letters’ are things we ‘see’ and ‘write’ and ‘sounds’ are things we ‘hear’ and ‘say’.  Play around with sounds and words as you drive along in the car or at the dinner table!


If you are not sure how your child is progressing or they don’t seem to be keeping up, please consider consulting a Speech Pathologist.  They are the professionals specially trained in identifying early sound difficulties and who can address any concerns in regards to your child’s literacy learning.  Your child may need careful monitoring if there has been a history of late talking or difficulties with pronouncing speech sounds, particularly if these have been untreated and are still evident at prep entry.  For a screening of your child’s phonological awareness abilities or to ask any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Tyquin Group Speech Pathology on (07) 3399 8028.

Simple sequencing for amazing learning

There are lots of big words that can be used when trying to explain the brain and how it works but most are pretty unnecessary.


If we are very observant it is interesting to see what is revealed.


Try these simple exercises with your kids (7 years and older) and observe what happens. You  may be surprised at how well they do, but I know many parents will be shocked at how their child struggles.


Exercise 1

Count in 2’s  from 20  (even numbers)

i.e.  20,  22  24  26  28  30  32  34….. and so on to 100


Exercise 2

Count in 2’s from 21 (odd numbers)

i.e.  21  23  25  27  29  31  33….and so on to 99


Well, what did you observe?


Perhaps it was a breeze for your child, but maybe it wasn’t.


Try it a few more times and see if things improve. Show your child how you do it. Try to create a rhythm. Write down some helper numbers on a piece of paper, like    2  4  6  8  0. Be creative!


Now let’s interpret what you have just seen.


You may be one of the lucky ones for whom it went well. If so, then you are probably also blessed with a child who is in the top third of their class at school. If not, then it is highly unlikely that they will be doing well at school.


The explanation for this lies in what is involved in this task and it has virtually nothing to do with maths or schoolwork. It has everything to do with the front part of our brain that controls sequences, patterns and learning routines.


Sequences, patterns and routines enable humans to have a framework with which to base all of their learning from. Once the framework is in place, then it is possible to contrast and compare, see differences and then make decisions regarding the differences. Through this, we have created ‘thought  and ‘intelligent thinking’, something no other animal can do.


The brain seeks patterns. Patterns are the ultimate key to learning. Everything about our learning and our brain’s architecture revolves around recognizing a pattern and then refining it. Internally, the brain will grow a new dendrite right next to another if it is very similar. This is not a random process, but a highly organized one.


Our organized brains are what allow an acrobat, a ballerina, a painter, or a pianist to excel in their endeavour.


Similarly, learning at school is just learning new routines and sequences.


The curriculum may focus on handwriting, addition, sums, sight words, phonics, music or reading, but behind every one of these activities is the ability to learn, see and develop a new sequence.


Now this is where it gets interesting…

The time allowed in the classroom for developing a new sequence is about four repetitions. What I mean is, if the teacher is demonstrating how to do a long division, they tend to demonstrate it about 4 times. If your child needs 6, 10 or 15 repetitions to learn something, then they are not going to have learnt that sequence during the lesson.


Even if the teacher repeats the lesson the next day, rather than building memory like is occurring in the top third of the class, for your child, they are beginning from zero again. They will  also leave this second lesson without having made any progress.


Solving this problem is usually quite easy and you can help your child get faster at learning routines. Simply focus on learning a new routine every day. It will not matter what the routine is, but that they simply become able to learn ever longer and more complicated routines faster and faster.


Of course that is what happens at school everyday. It is called learning and doing homework, but if your child is outside the ‘4 repetitions’ to learn, then they will not be learning the sequences that the teacher is demonstrating and consequently start to fall behind.


Change is possible!


For further information contact Tyquin Speech and Reading clinic on 33998028  or access free literacy resources on



Sight words are a real struggle for many children and can often provide a source of frustration for their parents.


There has been a lot written in support of sight words, but for many children the complexity of the method is overwhelming.  In essence, the method relies on the idea that by having a good familiarity with commonly used words, those same words will be easily recognised (decoded) when reading.


Last month’s article discussed working memory and how it can be easily overloaded.  This relates to this topic also, because for a child experiencing difficulties with reading, the learning and recall of a large number of sight words will potentially overload the working memory.


To try and understand the feeling your child might experience, place yourself in their shoes by attempting to learn a new language, like German, by learning 100 or 200 sight words in German and then trying to read a passage.  Attempting to read via this idea of sight words is a daunting thought.  It is simply impossible for many children.


In essence, the concept is that when a word is seen, it is instantly recognised, just like when the child sees their own name.  It does not need to be decoded using phonics.  The child instantly recognising their own name demonstrates that they are able to ‘sight read’ at a neurological level, but recognising a couple of words is inadequate for comprehensive reading.


A way of creating the ‘sight word effect’, but not creating the overload of hundreds of words is through ‘re-reading’ or ‘priming’.  To do this, have the child read the same short passage over and over.  It might even need to be single short sentence.  Read, read and read the sentence again.  Spell the words, say the words, hear the words, imagine the words, put them into a different sentence.  Read the passage forwards, backwards and jumping around.   It may be only 5 to 10 words, but these words will become so well known that your child will know them as well as their own name.


Another way of considering this is from the perspective of ‘one step easier’.  If your child is struggling to do a given task, e.g. learning 20 sight words, try 15 or 10 or 5 or 2!  Make it easier and easier until your child is able to succeed.


You may be in a quandary that the teacher wants 20 sight words learned for the week, but it is probably better to achieve five than zero.


It is interesting to observe children learning to read because their progress often begins slowly but as they progress, their learning rate accelerates.  This is quite normal.  It is not necessary to panic and feel rushed by the 20 sight words goal.  Just manage learning a couple first, then a few more and before long your child will be up with the best.


For more tips on helping your child read consider looking at our website at  You will find archived articles previously published in this magazine.