The Race and the War We Dare Not Lose!
Though educators know more than in previous decades about the teaching and learning of reading, still it may be in danger of becoming an elitist activity. When we were an industrial economy, prosperity did not require highly proficient literacy levels. However, fierce global competition and the constant need for innovation demand higher degrees of cognitive and problem solving skills than ever. Some students catch on to the reading process without any instruction or prodding, while others need all the support schools and the home can provide.
What to Do?
Intensive Instruction – The wiring for language may be laid down but it has not been or is not being appropriately activated through proper instructional strategies that address the four learning channels: 1)visual (seeing) 2) ear (hearing), 3) verbal (saying), AND 4) kinesthetic (writing/touching) Workbook instruction favors visual readers. However, if students lack auditory (hearing/listening) discrimination, they can’t distinguish sounds such as think –thank or charge – sharp. Intensive instruction is necessary especially by third grade because up until that time, the brain is much more malleable, plastic. What to do! Make sure your child’s teacher is providing the instruction needed for your child to succeed. Gently, ask questions.
Crawl Baby Crawl - Some research indicates that early motor stimulation (such a jumping and crawling) is important to development of the language center of the brain that promotes reading skills; yet the average child spends hundreds of hours sitting in a car seat and/or swing seat by age two. Many Headstart/Early Start programs introduce crawling as part of their curriculum. What to do! Make certain your child or grandchild crawls while learning to walk.
Dyslexics Need More Time Students who have intellectual equipment necessary for reading yet they cannot despite motivation and their socio-economic background are dyslexic (word blind). There is problem within the language system of the brain. These students have difficulty transforming letters into sounds and need accommodations (more time) for testing and for completing assignments. What to do! Make certain that there is documentation for this condition so that students receive more accommodations during standardized and other timed tests. To keep students’ spirits up and self-esteem intact: tutor, mentor, and provide a nonacademic outlet.
More Exposure to Print – Too often the home does not permit enough exposure for the brain to begin to analyze and to decode words, especially true for low-income families. There is not enough practice or role models who read. Multiple exposure to print is necessary for the brain to begin to analyze words, to decode words, and to obtain an awareness of word patterns. What to do! Buy books, newspapers, and subscribe to magazines. Read with and to children.
You may have designer clothes and furs untold, boxes of jewelry and chains of gold. Richer than I you can never be, I had a parent/mentor who read to me.