The teachSTIX story
As her youngest son was coming to the end of his pre-K school year, Kate Koffman was faced with the dilemma that many parents of young children are all too familiar with…. “How can I help my child learn to read?” Evan was a smart and motivated 5-year-old but was struggling as an emergent reader. Kate not only wanted her son to learn to read, but to also feel confident and enthusiastic when picking up a book. As a creative and proactive parent, Kate set out on a mission to develop “TEAM EVAN.” Seeking the assistance of experts in the field, Kate soon learned that sight word fluency was going to be a key to her son’s reading success. After reading a bedtime story to Evan, she put her head back and stared at the ceiling searching for an idea. That white ceiling turned into a canvas of opportunity. The next day Kate began writing colorful sight words on index cards. One by one they were displayed on Evan’s ceiling
During this time, Evan was also seeing Emily Thomas, for speech therapy. As a nationally certified speech language pathologist, Emily has worked extensively with preschoolers and elementary aged students. Working closely with their parents and teachers, she knew all too well that as students learn to read, their verbal success relies on their ability to decode, understand, and retell information from text. It was clear that her students with speech and language impairments were going to have difficulty “reading to learn” if their efforts were still focused on “learning to read.” How could these children improve their ability to understand and recall information from text, if they were working so hard to simply identify the words on the page?
The answer was found on Evan’s bedroom ceiling. Like many other students, Evan was working to improve his understanding of text and verbal organization upon retell. Emily and Evan would spend a portion of their session looking at the colorful array of words above and reading each sight word aloud. Kate would also work with Evan, having a night time ritual in which he “found” each word with his flashlight and read it aloud. Evan loved this game so much he started playing it by himself as he fell asleep. Within weeks, Evan’s reading fluency improved tremendously and as a result his comprehension and verbal organization quickly followed suit. Sight word recognition has built a foundation for academic success and he is now able to “read to learn.”
With the hope to make this strategy easy, accessible, and motivating to every parent and professional, teachSTIX was born!