A cursor is a piece of card, about the size of a business card, with a square notch cut out of the top left corner. On the last sheet of blue flashcards, three cursors are marked out for you, but any piece of plain card will do the job.
The cursor ensures that the pupil reads every sound in the right order, preventing words being missed and letters scrambled. It usually eliminates the need for coloured overlays or glasses and seems to be effective in cases of visual diplopia, where the pupil complains that the letters ‘won’t stay still’.
At first it’s used to reveal one sound at a time; be careful to show both letters of a digraph together. Move the cursor just as the child is saying the sound, so they can get through all of the phonemes in a word before they have forgotten them.
Even when the pupil has begun to read words without saying the sounds, the cursor is essential. You very quickly get used to moving it smoothly across the word at the speed that suits the pupil. Be ready to stop and back up if your child makes a mistake and needs to sound out the word. You will soon get used to moving the cursor at the right speed.
It is much easier to scan ahead and to see when your pupil is unsure of a word if you sit facing them, rather than side by side. It makes it easier to use the cursor too. You will very quickly get proficient at reading upside-down!
Errors are corrected immediately by stopping or backing up the cursor. Model the right answer if your pupil cannot self-correct straight away, then go back so they sound out the word again. Never leave them to struggle if they cannot remember the sounds or blend them.
Keep hold of the cursor and use it all the time, it’s pretty simple once you start using it.