“Many people know that about 42 percent of 4th graders score below basic in overall reading skill on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). In Washington, D.C., where I am currently studying reading intervention, the proportion of students beyond 3rd grade who cannot read well enough to participate in grade-level work is between 60 and 70 percent, depending on the grade and year of assessment. Too few children can compete in higher education and about half fail to complete high school. In this community [Washington DC], the rate of adult illiteracy — reading below 4th grade level — is 37%, the highest in the nation. Nationally, 25% of all adults are functionally illiterate."
Dr. Moats is project director for a four-year longitudinal study of early reading intervention in the Washington, D.C., public schools. http://www.ldonline.org/article/8025/
According to research from the National Institutes of Health, Dyslexia is the most common reason a bright child will struggle with spelling, writing, or reading, and dyslexia affects 20% of our population. According to NIH research, 80 percent of children with a Learning Disability actually have dyslexia. Dyslexia is by far the most common learning disability.
All children with dyslexia can read—up to a point. But auditory processing problems prevent them from hearing all the individual sounds in a word. So they don’t read by sounding out. Instead, they rely on alternative strategies: context clues (pictures and a predictable or familiar story), the shapes of words, and guessing based on the first letter or two. This will only take them so far, however.
“At any age, poor readers as a group exhibit weaknesses in phonological processing and word recognition speed and accuracy, as do younger poor readers (Stanovich & Siegel, 1994; Shankweiler et al., 1995). At any age, when an individual's reading comprehension is more impaired than his or her listening comprehension, inaccurate and slow word recognition is the most likely cause" (Shankweiler et al., 1999).
"Early intervention for reading problems reduces the number of students identified as learning disabled (Dickson & Bursuck," 1999; Jenkins & O'Connor, O'Connor 2000).
In my work, I chat with parents regularly about their Kindergarten through middle-school-aged children who still cannot read. My passion is to make learning easier for our children, so hearing about their struggles and discouragement really tugs at my heart.
Back in the early 1990's, I began to seriously question why bright children can struggle to learn to read. It just didn't make sense to me! So answering that question became the driving force behind everything I did, and as I worked with children, that question guided every choice I made.
The key for me was in observing the child. My eyes never left their faces because I wanted to know immediately if what I was doing was reaching them or not. Chances were if I got this look from a child, I was heading down the wrong path!
The first step is to focus on the ways in which children learn most naturally.
I hear from so many parents that when their kindergarteners struggle to learn to read, they are screened or tested to identify a possible disability. I understand that acquiring a label can be very helpful as it unlocks doors to services that would be unavailable otherwise, but we need to be so careful! If the child in question is naturally a visual/right-brained learner, chances are that the traditional ways of teaching reading won't synch with the way they learn. So rather than rushing to test the child for disabilities, it would be helpful to first consider the child's best learning strengths and capitalize on those.
The traditional way of teaching reading worked okay decades ago, before the age of technology, but our children today do not resemble the children of the 1950s. The brains of children today have been shaped by frequent exposure to brightly-colored images flashing and dancing on screens. Their developing, plastic, brains have been literally rewiredso as to make strongly visual learners from children who might not have been markedly visual in their learning style. And then when they go to school, they are taught in ways that worked better back in the day when children were not exposed to technology, entertained by technology, and amused by technology.
Actually, the way we teach reading today didn’t work perfectly back then because, while traditional ways of teaching reading works perfectly for left-brain dominant learners, for young children it doesn't work as well because young children are developmentally in a right-brain dominant stage up to about age 7. So teaching them to read using a wholly left-brained approach is not efficient and can lead to discouragement and failure.
Child1st teaching materials are designed to capitalize on the ways young children learn most naturally.
Think of those colorful and engaging images as the effective delivery system that carries unfriendly left-brained words into the child’s brain. Consider that without that delivery system, some children won’t learn and many children will not comprehend what they are reading. That is what we have heard from many parents and teachers. Blink, snap, and the child has it!
Traditionally, the assumption is that all children must be able to learn and manipulate individual sounds before learning whole words. That phonemic awareness is a predictor of success in learning to read. But there are many children that learn best, learn successfully, from whole to part – just like there are many adults who must see the big picture in order to make sense out of the details.
We have worked so hard using this correct way of teaching reading over the years, but many children are still unable to read, and some children who can read words do not comprehend what they have read. They can recognize words, but they cannot extract meaning from those words. In the 178 years since the McGuffey Readers were published, we have not deviated from plain symbols.
Many children are growing up with a label of disabled. The reason this concerns me is because that label sets the standard for the child. What we believe about the child is what they will believe about themselves. If we say they are disabled because they couldn't learn to read in Kindergarten, they will believe us and will rise no higher than that label.
Why don't we expose our youngest children and those who are struggling to the colorful, engaging, friendly, funny words we have available. Children are drawn to the color, the pictures, the humor, the story on each SnapWords® card.
The reason children are engaged by SnapWords® is that their brains are made for learning and their brains love the design elements that are utilized. When children don’t engage, it is a sign that their brain does not recognize the material as friendly.
Stare at a SnapWords® below, then close your eyes and call up the image in your mind. See if you can still remember it in a day. Then in two days.
SnapWords® have proved to work in getting a child reading when nothing else has worked. Non-readers as old as 12 began to read successfully because SnapWords® bridged the gap between left- and right- hemispheres. The design elements got the various regions in the brain working together. Symbols in one place, meaning somewhere else, images in another place, body motion elsewhere, all stimulated at once by using SnapWords®. Best of all, the child who is newly reading is also newly-comprehending.
Motion: join fingers together
Sentence: “It is blue AND green.”
Motion: point to floor right beside you
Sentence: “Come right HERE.”
Please join me in creating a community where we work together to support our struggling readers
Consider taking a little hiatus from the struggle of teaching reading to those children who are just not getting it. Just take a four-week recess from the hard work, the frustration, and the failure and do something different for that period of time. You have nothing to lose, but you might gain everything! Consider it an educational detox for you and your students both.
If you are in a classroom and all your time is taken, do what I did:
ON TUESDAY – FRIDAY
Take 10 minutes to play a game from our free book Activities for use with SnapWords. Download the activities for free.
When you have taken the recess from the struggle and the fight, please consider the difference SnapWords® made for your children, and share with your friends what you have found. We can change the world for our kids if we work together. We can truly help them Love Learning.
My dream is to one day have an educational system that will begin to teach to the child, considering their developmental stages, and will, at the first sign of struggle, leave no stone unturned to find what the child needs in order to learn. Chances are very good that that solution that will work will utilize images, movement, context, color and other wonderful right-brained elements.