Today, we spoke with April McMurtrey, a certified reading and dyslexia specialist and developer of The Learn Reading Program. We discussed how her program is a multisensory approach to reading. We discussed specific methods for teaching reading, including learning words with precise vowel placement at certain times to encourage children to feel confident in their reading. April has recently written a book available in January about evaluating your child for dyslexia at home. If you would like to be put on the waitlist for that book, you can follow the link here.
Here’s the link where people can find my resources and place themselves on the
book waitlist: https://linktr.ee/LearnReading
You can get in touch with April by contacting her at her website:
You can find April on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/learnreadingofficial/
Patrice Badami 0:01
Hi, this is Patrice Badami with a quanta tree. This is the Acorn to Tree In the Kitchen video series with April McMurtry; she has been with us once. She’s a certified reading and dyslexia specialist and developer of the Learning Reading Program. It’s a multi-sensory approach to reading.
April McMurtrey 0:18
This type of reading program includes learning words with specific vowel placement at certain times to encourage children to feel competent in their reading. Abel has recently written a book, which will be available in January, about evaluating your child for dyslexia at home. So we’re going to give you some more information. And we’ll have a link to that information at the bottom of this videocast show notes. So here’s April McMurtry, and she will talk to you about this fantastic program she started, which is a screening for dyslexia program, and she will tell you all the elements of that.
Thanks, Patrice. So, as a dyslexia specialist, I have been screening and evaluating students for dyslexia for many years, a couple of decades now.
April McMurtrey 1:06
And it has always been a very involved and long time, time-consuming and expensive evaluation, A dyslexia assessment to this point is usually.
April McMurtrey 1:23
many hundreds, sometimes 1000s of dollars. This information is so critical for parents to know that I decided to make that a lot more accessible for parents. I might make a lot of dyslexia professionals out there a little upset with my easy access to this screening, but I wanted to provide parents everything that we use as screeners so that they could have that.
Patrice Badami 1:52
information is available to use at home with their children. Right. So go ahead. No, I was just going to say my daughter has dyslexia. My cousin, a general in the army, also has dyslexia. he had it as a child, but it wasn’t easy to complete that screening process back then. And it oftentimes it’s an outside independent route that you have to take. And I think it’s incredible what you’re doing because it’ll be able to help parents who have suspicions, even if they’ve read books on what dyslexia is. This is the meat and potatoes of the actual screen. Right. So that’s why it’s so important. Yeah, continue. I want to hear more. So the first part of the book, part one, is a generational story that starts with a young boy struggling to read and spell. And the parents have no idea why because they have taught him the alphabet and they read to him every night. They don’t understand why he is struggling when they surround him with words and literature and teach him literacy skills from the beginning. The story goes through his teachers and what his teachers are finding and his emotional state as he gets older and older, and, pretty soon, they never, well, I don’t want to give it away. But this story goes from him to his children, to his grandchildren, and the difference that can happen in a child’s life when you are aware that dyslexia is the cause of their academic struggles. And when you can address those
April McMurtrey 3:31
issues at a young age so that they don’t have to struggle and cry and fail in school academically. You can avoid all the horrible traumatic consequences of not knowing the problem. So and then part two in the book is the actual screening for parents, though it comes with 11 different screening tasks. So it is still comprehensive. It’s
April McMurtrey 4:01
It’ll take, you know, a solid, better part of an hour to administer all of these screening tasks, and they can break them up. But it comes with specific instructions for the screener for the parent and the child. And I even provide those in the video. So the book will direct you to a link where it will just be a website of me giving video instructions. If they wonder if they’re administering the screening correctly, I will tell them exactly how to do it. I have separate videos just for the students I’m talking to. This is how you do this task. That’s so amazing. So they don’t have to spend so much money to know if their child is dyslexic. Right now, I want to jump in about that. I can validate how much these outside independents cost because I had suspected that she had dyslexia, but I did a thorough
Patrice Badami 5:00
neuropsychological evaluation, which took days it took three days. But what it ended up was, what do I need to know what is going to affect her across the board is dyslexia, right? So I went through all that she went through it, She’s not thrilled with that either, because it took three days and there were breaks. But when you have a child who has ADHD, in addition, which sometimes goes hand in hand, at specific points, with dyslexia, it’s, it’s challenging. And I like that you’re having some videos where they speak directly to the child because by doing that, you’re allowing them to take charge of their dyslexia. You’re validating that they have it but in a very approachable way. And by talking to them about it, they feel like they can really, I think it’s a great idea. And I like the storybook idea. That’s where you pull them in. The story is one of the best ways to engage a child and bring them along this journey. So that’s why I’m kind of excited about it. Yeah, so that’s what I’m looking forward to learning more.
April McMurtrey 6:02
Along with that, at the very end of the screening, if it shows that the child is dyslexic, then I have a particular video, at the very end of it all that it’s, I call it a congratulations video, I say congratulations, it looks like you probably have dyslexia. And this is why that is a good thing. I talk about all of the strengths and talents that people with dyslexia have that other people don’t, that they might not realize that they excel in and that it is a result of the beautiful dyslexic brain that they have, and how they just need to learn to read and spell in a different way that hasn’t been provided to them before, which is why they struggle, it’s not their fault is they haven’t received that type of instruction that is specific for a dyslexic learner. And then number three of the book is all those types of literacy, instruction methods, and techniques that a dyslexic learner needs.
Patrice Badami 6:59
Right? What I think is unique about the fact that you’re writing this book is that it has the tools to actually sit down and push through and learn these techniques and give your child the special weapons, if you will, to battle dyslexia, you know, to be a dyslexia hero superhero, if you will. My daughter’s in a superhero camp right now. Yeah, no, but what I think is important is you can read as many books as you want about dyslexia that explain to the parent, but that’s not getting in and working, how to help facilitate your child, because I have around six books about dyslexia, explaining to me what it is. But for you to get in there and work with the child. That’s why it’s so much different. It’s a groundbreaking idea that I have yet to see, and I’ve reviewed many books but haven’t seen anything quite like this; the video component is essential. We’re doing the work directly because the children’s attention span might not be so on task. So by having the video, they’re interacting, and that’s much easier for them concerning validating their particular brain. I also talked to my daughter about the ADHD piece by being interested in many different things; you just have to take that interest in passion and focus it momentarily. Then you can return to being that particular person with so much energy. I mean, she has that’s exactly her. So, it’s a different way of looking at the brain. We’ve been talking about the brain in different areas of the brain where you learn about art, language, etc. By giving them this tool early on, you’re building their confidence. We’re empowering. I know what it feels like to sit in the back of the class. And everything is just flowing by, and I can’t have that issue with math and reading. And you don’t want your child to sit in the back of the class, close to tears, but keeping it together, knowing in their head, this is all over my head. And when they come home, there’s an explosion, emotional, or emotional explosion, and to be able to see, I’m able to send them in before that experience. And giving them this sense of competence ahead of time is essential. Right? Right. So very
April McMurtrey 9:25
important. Thank you for all you were doing for your daughter and for all of the knowledge you’re sharing with others that there is hope and solutions. Yeah.
Patrice Badami 9:35
Many of the materials are what you have had on your Instagram. We sit there, we look at Miss April, we sit, and we watch them, and she practices. It’s just so imperative in this day and age with social media. It’s a tool; now you also have the YouTube series correct with all of the different so that when you see the snippet on Instagram, you can see the entire video on your YouTube series.
April McMurtrey 10:02
So YouTube has a different series. I’m on four different media platforms, and YouTube is different; on YouTube, I provide free full-reading lessons for adults. Okay, they are my inspiration; they are my heroes. So I provide, I show the lessons I created on the screen so they can have it for free. And I teach them right there. So YouTube, all I do put the, you know, shorts on there that are over on the reels and, and Tic Tok and Facebook, but YouTube also has those free lessons for adults.
Patrice Badami 10:41
So what we’ll have, you know, what I want to have at the end with the notes, we will have a description of the different social media. Then, a description of what you’re offering in each one, which is helpful, so people can quickly go to where they need to go. And, you know, take advantage of the beautiful and very generous information you provide them. So now, besides the book, definitely the learner, I want you to talk about the learned reading program itself because I have that material I want parents to know about as well.
April McMurtrey 11:18
The learn reading program was designed specifically for dyslexic and struggling readers; it’s also appropriate for emerging readers. It comes in several levels, but the foundational program is designed for the older struggling learner. Usually, you only know that your reader struggles once they are already past the window that most learners are learning to read. So it’s when they hit second grade, you’re like, wait a minute, you should be reading by now. That is That is who this is designed for. I also have a preschool packet in the begin reading packet that will prepare those younger readers to succeed and prepare them for lesson one in the learning reading program. So it has extensive work in phonemic awareness in every single lesson. It has worked it has worked in knowing how to read irregularly spelled words, which are sometimes called sight words. They’re not high-frequency words but irregularly spelled words that teach them how to learn and read them. It provides instruction for explicit phonics. So they will learn how to pencil read and why the vowels say what they do, based on where they acid in the Word and the letters surrounding it. So when they go to decode a word, they will know precisely what each vowel will say and how to blend to the end without guessing and without getting any sounds in any sounds out or any sounds mixed around. They will have vocabulary work, they will have fluency work comprehension work. Work with expression and phrasing. Extensive comprehension work is so it’s thoroughly comprehensive. The program includes everything a complete reading program should include, from the beginning of phonemic awareness to the end of fluency and comprehension. It’s all-inclusive,
Patrice Badami 13:26
I wanted to tell you this: as I am reading with her, whenever we come across a word that breaks the rules if you will, that doesn’t fall into the categories of, for example, some of the why words how to explain to her about sometimes it’s a consonant, it behaves like a consonant. Sometimes, it can; it behaves like a vowel. So that’s one thing I’m trying to say, Look, it depends on where it is. Right? Yeah, it depends on where it is. But then I’m also discussing her with her about Silent E. And whenever something breaks the rule, I say to her, Okay, so that’s what we’re going to call a site or snap word, that you’ll just have to recognize that you might doesn’t follow the rules necessarily.
April McMurtrey 14:19
Right? And here’s something: Thank you for doing that. Here’s something that can help her with those actual sight words, those irregularly spelled words; we can look at them as a unit with a clue. So sometimes, if you have a lot of well-meaning teachers, and I applaud what they’re doing, they will teach what I call sight words. They’re not high-frequency words. They’re words that break typical phonetic patterns; they are decodable. If we’re calling those sight words, some teachers will teach that they are primarily Decodable, and that’s fine, but there’s a little Hold that that leaves, if they are teaching that, like, for instance, what if they’re teaching them that A says, Ah, so that they can decode that word that is teaching them how to decode, that’s fine, but it is not creating an independent reader because as soon as that teacher is Sarah, that students,
Patrice Badami 15:19
That’s going to say, that’s exactly what I was telling her. So that’s why I say, Yeah, because it confuses them,
April McMurtrey 15:27
They must remember what that A was supposed to say. And that that A was the rule-breaking letter. So here’s an easier way: look at sight words and tell them they will learn them as a unit with a clue. Learn them as a unit with a clue so that they can be independent. The clue is to look at the first few letters, the first letter, or two or three up to that first vowel. Those first few consonants will be the clue. That combined with how it is with the context that’s around it. Okay, they won’t, so they can depend on their knowledge. Okay, I will look at those first few consonants; if the word was through, they know it will not be thought or thorough because the first three letters are for Theurer. And the way it’s used in the sentence, they will be able to figure out due to their logic and intellect with those two clues that that is through because of how it’s used. And those first three phonetic clues.
Patrice Badami 16:34
Right, right. That’s, that makes sense. That makes sense. Because then it’s almost like if you say, Oh, that one’s just like, we’re in a way, it’s like shutting April McMurtrey 16:42 down or away from them is taking the power like that, Patrice Badami 16:45 again, that now because she would look at me like, like you sent her that we passed it. Yeah, yeah. She
April McMurtrey 16:53
wants to know how to figure that word out. Also. Yeah. So okay,
Patrice Badami 16:57
There you go. That’s a great idea. That put it in the context of this sentence. I don’t want to say look at the picture. I don’t do that when I’m working with her; we take the pictures away. So when we’re working in a workbook, and I’m asking her when the word is at you, she doesn’t admit it, but she looks at the picture. And I’m like, You can’t do that. We have to do it. Right. You’re working with the word. So if your child is working with workbooks with your child, I take a piece of paper, cover up the picture, and have them walk us through it.
April McMurtrey 17:28
Thank you. There are no pictures in my program.
Patrice Badami 17:31
Right? For that reason, when they do a picture and walk into class, it’s the same thing my daughter is taking. She’s looking at the pictures and trying to say this is what’s happening because he’s very imaginative. But in a way, you’re stopping the reading process. You’re just having them interpret the illustrations. So yeah, it’s engaging. So when you’re like not reading or something, if you’re cooking and want them to do some workbook, let them do it that way. But when you’re working with them, yeah.
April McMurtrey 18:03
How to Read, not how to guess or infer or?
Patrice Badami 18:07
Yeah, exactly, exactly. So yeah, that’s very, very important. For the people who have missed or are unsure what pencil reading is in the lab, and we have a podcast, can you tell them what the pencil reading is?
April McMurtrey 18:22
So pencil reading is part of the multi-sensory experience; it puts the pencil in their hand instead of the teacher’s. So you’ll put that pencil in the child’s hand. First, before they go to pencil read, they will use the vowel placement strategy, which is they are learning how to determine what will say based on its placement in the Word and the letters on either side of it. And that’s a whole nother podcast. But after they go through and determine what those vowel sounds are, they are ready to pencil read. So they’ll go through, and they’ll take a pencil and put a dot underneath each sound as they go through the word that’ll tell their brain their subconscious, that they do know all of the sounds in this word, then they can slowly connect the dots and blend each sound as they do from the beginning to the end. And that is pencil reading.
Patrice Badami 19:16
Now, I want to share with people that just when people say multisensory, sometimes people get nervous when they hear the word multisensory because they don’t understand it sounds overwhelming to some people. I’ve discussed this with some other parents by providing them with this pencil. So holding their hand, that’s the sense of touch right there. By looking, there’s also they’re looking, and that’s the second sentence. So that’s the two that are multisensory. Yeah, they’re saying it, and they’re saying it, so that’s the verbal, right? So that’s, that’s how it’s that’s what multisensory so
April McMurtrey 19:49
I will be lined up their pencil, mouth, and eyes will all be on each grapheme as they go.
Patrice Badami 19:58
Right. As they get older, another multi-sensory approach, when they’re older is having a graphic organizer in front of them just so they know where this type of idea leads in the future they’ll perhaps you’ll ask in your IEP meeting, you’ll request a visual plan or in front of the child’s so that they’re able to keep on task by hat listening to the lecture, but also having it in front of them. So they can take their pencil and move along the lesson by marking it with this skill that you’re teaching them now. Nice. That’s how it’s going to progress later. Very, very important, and then build it by the time they’ll be doing something like that in their classroom following a lecture, it’ll be second nature. And then as they get older, and they’re learning, they’re reading a chapter book they’re reading, they’re going to maybe they’ll mark in the book or whatever. But they’ll also be able to take this skill with them for life, This is an important thing: slow down, take your pencil, go slow, do your own, pick your own pace, and you’ll be able to feel so much more empowered. And yeah, that’s what is so essential about multi-sensory instruction.
April McMurtrey 21:08
I like that word empowered you use because that’s exactly what we’re doing. We’re giving the power.
Patrice Badami 21:13
Yeah. And, as we had, I had said this quickly in the previous podcast that they have to be, they have to understand that this approach is like, you have a destination, you can go on the highway, you can go on the back roads, this is just another way of getting somewhere where the goal is to read. And it’s by offering them another path. It’ll help them and give them support. So they should start getting used to if a child has dyslexia or ADHD; they need to understand that these things that you’re providing for them through your school district, or by using April’s method, it’s giving them support. If they don’t need it at some point, it drops away, but it’s better to hang on to it until you’re past that goal. And you achieve that goal. Yeah. Yeah. Having said that you discussed a few things, and one of the things you’d like to express is that you have available for parents.
April McMurtrey 22:10
Um, well. I have my favorite miniature course, Teaching Tips for Parents and Tutors. And it is specific, I don’t, I don’t know why it’s, it’s just a fun course. And I feel like I need to promote that more. It has specific sections for if you are working with a dyslexic child, and a specific section if you are working with a child with ADHD, or add on what they’re going to struggle with and how to help them. And it gets to the nitty gritty like, if they are crying, frustrated, confused, here’s what you do. Here’s what you do if you are crying, frustrated, or confused. Here’s how to make learning fun; here’s how to break it down into bite-sized pieces so that they end on a positive note and don’t do it until they struggle and get frustrated and then stop, you know, stop when they’re on a reading. Hi. So they want to come back. It’s just full of techniques, little tools, I like to call them little weapons, for their toolbox that will help them to help their reader succeed in a pleasant and fun way and have it be a positive experience. So I like that miniature course teaching tips course.
Patrice Badami 23:31
I’ve seen on many of your emails that you have this. And I think that if people who are interested in doing some type of either remote or in-person tutoring if they take your course, they can say on their resume they’ve taken it, then the parent will go to your website and take a look and say oh, so they have that type of experience that’s going to promote them more, and help them on their journey, not just by giving them the tools to work with the child and to get through their frustrations, but to let the parents know that you took that extra step through and that’s
April McMurtrey 24:10
important. And speaking of tutors, we have licenses if anybody wants to tutor using the learn reading lessons. And then you can call yourself a licensed learn-reading tutor. Then, they receive their names and pictures on the Learn Route reading website. So for
Patrice Badami 24:26
free, that’s amazing. Right there.
April McMurtrey 24:28
If they want to become certified, they will become certified. You have to take one student through the first level, and then you have to tutor me. We have a little interview, a little Zoom interview where the potential certified tutor certifies or tutors me, and I make all sorts of mistakes and have ADHD. We just go through a lesson together so that I can solidly recommend this tutor to others. So certified tutors get their names and pictures at the very top of that find a tutor page. And underneath them are licensed tutors, which are also, I’m confident, exceptional tutors; they’re also perfect. We just have yet to have that one once a week. I can’t recommend it, but they are great tutors. So that is a resource for parents, If they want to find a tutor, they can go to that page, called the find a tutor page. Or if they want to become a tutor, you can do that too with a license.
Patrice Badami 25:31
See, and that’s important because, with everything, I’m talking to many parents who are former teachers. They want to know something they can do to stand out and have their resume I mean, some going to a, you know, a website like yours and then checking out the Instagram, they’ll be like, Oh, this is a little different from what the other people, it’ll make you stand out and make someone more likely to choose you to be a tutor to their child that you have this background. So that’s something: look at all these excellent resources. They’re all going to be linked at the bottom of this family podcast so that people can have all this information because you could potentially be not only in everything you’re offering for the children but also an opportunity for employment for someone who’s a former teacher who has limited time and wants to try to do something independently. So that’s a great, great idea to have that as well. Okay,
April McMurtrey 26:23
I’ll add that is not even debatable; that is the best job. It is the best job to teach a struggling reader in a way that works and see those light bulbs go off every time you work with them.
Patrice Badami 26:41
Right. And here’s a quick question. So, in addition, does your course offer they learn they’ll be alert reading specialists, which can also apply to teaching an adult? Oh, yeah. Right. So that’s important for them to know that it’s not just for children. You could be changing the life of someone who’s desperately trying to learn English as an adult so that they can improve their lives. So it’s just all all together. It’s a fantastic opportunity for people to have that information at the end of this podcast, so yes, let me say again, this is April McMurtry, and she has the learn reading program. We will have all of the information about her book and social media. We’re going to discuss the learned reading Specialist certifications. We will discuss that we’ll have all of that, and Robin discuss it. We’ll have the links to it so people can go and check it out. So listen, thank you so much, once again, for joining me on the Acorn to Tree in the Kitchen video series. April. So happy that Pat you.
You’re welcome. Patrice. Have a great day. Thank you. You too.