Callier’s Read to Succeed Camp Helps Kids Grasp Phonics Concepts
Communication disorders graduate student Karen Brackett helps 7-year-old Bonnie Choate with phonics skills at the Read to Succeed camp at the Callier Center for Communication Disorders.
Seven-year-old Bonnie Choate was having trouble figuring out the rules of reading. But after participating in the Read to Succeed camp at the Callier Center for Communication Disorders this summer, her mother says she's more confident with reading and ready to tackle second grade.
Read to Succeed is one of seven summer camps offered by UT Dallas’ Callier Center. All of the camps provide assistance for children or teens in areas of speech, language or hearing, which is the central mission of the Callier Center all year long.
The Read to Succeed camp focuses on phonics, using a curriculum called Lively Letters.
Callier Center Camps
Every summer, the Callier Center for Communication Disorders at UT Dallas offers a variety of camps for children to help improve their social and communication skills. More information about the camps is available on its website.
“It’s kinesthetic based, and there’s a song with each letter,” said Callier speech-language pathologist Sara Loving, who leads the camp. “We use a motivating environment to teach them how to encode and decode words, which helps them to read and spell.”
It’s that kind of environment that has helped Bonnie with her reading skills according to her mother, Shanna Choate.
”She told us this little rule of thumb about King Ed, or the Big E. When he’s at the end of a word, he can force the other vowel to say its name, because he’s the king,” Shanna said. “She’s hearing the lessons of phonics that, for two years, I haven’t heard her say.”
Camp participants do group activities for about half of the 90-minute class and also work individually with a graduate student on specific skills.
“The individualized attention that they receive in this program makes sure that they’re not just repeating back what the instructor says — that they’re actually understanding it and grasping that concept — which I love,” Shanna said.
Loving used the Lively Letters curriculum in her previous position at a local school district. It worked so well she wanted to bring it to Callier.
“I felt like reading was one of those big pushes my kids needed in the schools. When I came to Callier it was a no-brainer for me to begin a great camp that was going to allow these kids the summer opportunity to maintain their reading skills or push their reading to the next level,” Loving said.
“When I came to Callier, it was a no-brainer for me to begin a great camp that was going to allow these kids the summer opportunity to maintain their reading skills or push their reading to the next level.”
Some of the students at the camp have been diagnosed with a disability such as autism spectrum disorder. Other children like Bonnie, however, are there to simply improve their reading skills.
“Many of these kids are at risk for reading difficulties. Perhaps they’re not reading on grade level, or they may be behind in knowing all their letters and sounds, and having some of those print awareness skills,” Loving said.
Shanna said the two-day-a-week camp was perfect for Bonnie.
“I felt like she needed to spend a little more time over the summer getting some of these skills and these tools in her tool belt,” she said. “But I didn’t want to inundate her for her entire summer. It’s just two days a week, and they really focus on it for an hour and a half. It was a great fit, and she loves it.”
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