TOS Crew: Heads Up! Reading Aids

TOS Crew

It’s always exciting to find something that fits our budget and our academic efforts, especially if it’s something that I’ve made myself, or planned to make myself, and then found it available for purchase, better-made and affordable.

Holey Cards were the first product I remember finding that fit this category; simple folding cardstock cards that drilled 100 math facts, one card each for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. (These are still available for less than $1 each! The shipping is more than the cost of the cards, so I’d suggest you get together with some friends and put in a group order if you’re interested.)

When I opened the envelope from Heads Up! I knew exactly what I had. You see, I’d manufactured a rough version of the reading aids they offer.

Background

Our eldest is a struggling learner. It’s one of the reasons we began homeschooling in the first place, more than a dozen years ago. She needed individual attention, and the “regular” school approach didn’t work, leaving us both frustrated.

A friend with a struggling reader of her own told me about the difference special filters made. For her daughter, looking through a thin colored film made the words stand still long enough to be read. She told me how different colors work for different people.

I tried it with Eldest, jury-rigging a frame and taping colored cellophane in place. Blue seemed to work best for her.

Further experimentation showed that holding an index card under the line she was reading helped her to focus, to keep her eye from jumping off the line. When I cut a frame out of a large index card, wide enough to show a whole line, but with the opening only one line “tall”, things went even better. Eventually she didn’t even need the colored filter; the frame alone was enough to smooth her reading.

Heads Up! Reading Aids

…which brings me to the reading aids the TOS Crew received from Heads Up! Our packet contained a variety of frames and readers in a rainbow of color choices. It was wonderful to be able to try the different colors! All our girls, by the way, chose blue as the most comfortable color for them.

(I loaned the set to a friend, and her son found the blue distracting, but chose yellow for his reading comfort, just to give you an idea of how children differ.)

Eldest liked the Reader, which was similar to my early experiment. It’s a strip of colored film between two plain gray strips, allowing one line at a time to be viewed.

Middlest, a rapid reader, thought the blue was the prettiest color, but found she didn’t need any reading aids. Rather, they impeded her speed — her eyes move down the page rather than across.

Youngest thought she liked Top of the Line best (looks like the diagram but colored portion is only one line high), but then decided she really liked the Double Time better (pictured). It shows two lines at a time. Youngest has trouble, by the way, jumping down to the next line when reading. She’ll skip lines, or read the same line over again and not realize her mistake until she’s a word or two into the line. It disrupts her reading and affects comprehension. With the Double Time reading aid, she physically moves the frame down as she comes to the end of the line she’s reading, prompting her eye to jump to the right place to pick up the next line. It’s great!

Help for special needs

Heads Up! offers much more than reading aids. At their website you’ll find helpful articles on educating children with special needs, and a variety of helpful products. (Perusing their online catalog just now, I thought, “They have therapy balls! Hooray! Youngest has outgrown her bouncy ball from the toy store, and I’ve been wondering where to get something the right size and bounciness for her to sit on when she’s trying to concentrate!”)

The reading aids (Reader, Top of the Line, Double Time, and Frames) are a dollar each. You might want to try several colors to see if your child has a preference. Find these and other products at Heads Up! — the reading aids are found in the Reading/Visual category, and here’s a direct link for your convenience.

To read more reviews from the TOS Crew, click here.

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