Why Some Children Have Difficulties Learning to Read
By: G. Reid Lyon (2000)
Children may struggle with reading for a variety of reasons. This article provides an overview of these reasons, including limited experience with books, speech and hearing problems, and low phonemic awareness.
Good readers are phonemically aware, understand the alphabetic principle, apply these skills in a rapid and fluent manner, possess strong vocabularies and syntactical and grammatical skills, and relate reading to their own experiences.
Difficulties in any of these areas can impede reading development. Further, learning to read begins far before children enter formal schooling. Children who have stimulating literacy experiences from birth onward have an edge in vocabulary development, understanding the goals of reading, and developing an awareness of print and literacy concepts.
Conversely, the children who are most at risk for reading failure enter kindergarten and the elementary grades without these early experiences. Frequently, many poor readers have not consistently engaged in the language play that develops an awareness of sound structure and language patterns. They have limited exposure to bedtime and laptime reading.
In short, children raised in poverty, those with limited proficiency in English, those from homes where the parents’ reading levels and practices are low, and those with speech, language, and hearing handicaps are at increased risk of reading failure.
However, many children with robust oral language experience, average to above average intelligence, and frequent early interactions with literacy activities also have difficulties learning to read. Why?
Programmatic longitudinal research, including research supported by NICHD, clearly indicates that deficits in the development of phoneme awareness skills not only predict difficulties learning to read, but they also have a negative effect on reading acquisition. Whereas phoneme awareness is necessary for adequate reading development, it is not sufficient. Children must also develop phonics concepts and apply these skills fluently in text.
Although substantial research supports the importance of phoneme awareness, phonics, and the development of speed and automaticity in reading, we know less about how children develop reading comprehension strategies and semantic and syntactic knowledge. Given that some children with well developed decoding and word- recognition abilities have difficulties understanding what they read, more research in reading comprehension is crucial.
From research to practice
Scientific research can inform beginning reading instruction. We know from research that reading is a language-based activity. Reading does not develop naturally, and for many children, specific decoding, word recognition, and reading comprehension skills must be taught directly and systematically. We have also learned that preschool children benefit significantly from being read to.
The evidence suggests strongly that educators can foster reading development by providing kindergarten children with instruction that develops print concepts, familiarity with the purposes of reading and writing, age-appropriate vocabulary and language comprehension skills, and familiarity with the language structure.
Substantial evidence shows that many children in the 1st and 2nd grades and beyond will require explicit instruction to develop the necessary phoneme awareness, phonics, spelling, and reading comprehension skills. But for these children, this will not be sufficient.
For youngsters having difficulties learning to read, each of these foundational skills should be taught and integrated into textual reading formats to ensure sufficient levels of fluency, automaticity, and understanding.
Excerpted from: Lyon, G. R. (January/February 2000). Why reading is not a natural process. LDA Newsbriefs. Learning Disabilities Association of America.
Learning to Read
via Learning to Read.
Learning to read is built on a foundation of language skills that children start to learn at birth – a process that is both complicated and amazing. Most children develop certain skills as they move through the early stages of learning language. By age 7, most children are reading.
he following list of accomplishments is based on current scientific research in the fields of reading, early childhood education, and child development **. Studies continue in their fields, and there is still much still to learn. As you look over the accomplishments, keep in mind that children vary a great deal in how they develop and learn. If you have questions or concerns about your child’s progress, talk with the child’s doctor, teacher, or a speech and language therapist. For children with any kind of disability or learning problem, the sooner they can get the special help they need, the easier it will be for them to learn.
From birth to age 3, most babies and toddlers become able to:
- Make sounds that imitate the tones and rhythms that adults use when talking.
- Respond to gestures and facial expressions.
- Begin to associate words they hear frequently with what the words mean.
- Make cooing, babbling sounds in the crib, which gives way to enjoying rhyming and nonsense word games with a parent or caregiver.
- Play along in games such as “peek-a-boo” and “pat-a-cake.”
- Handle objects such as board books and alphabet blocks in their play.
- Recognize certain books by their covers.
- Pretend to read books.
- Understand how books should be handled.
- Share books with an adult as a routine part of life.Name some objects in a book.
- Talk about characters in books.
- Look at pictures in books and realize they are symbols of real things.
- Listen to stories.
- Ask or demand that adults read or write with them.
- Begin to pay attention to specific print such as the first letters of their names.
- Scribble with a purpose (trying to write or draw something).
- Produce some letter-like forms and scribbles that resemble, in some way, writing.
From ages 3-4, most preschoolers become able to:
- Enjoy listening to and talking about storybooks.
- Understand that print carries a message.
- Make attempts to read and write.
- Identify familiar signs and labels.
- Participate in rhyming games.
- Identify some letters and make some letter-sound matches.
- Use known letters (or their best attempt to write the letters) to represent written language especially for meaningful words like their names or phrases such as “I love you.”
At age 5, most kindergartners become able to:
- Sound as if they are reading when they pretend to read.
- Enjoy being read to.
- Retell simple stories.
- Use descriptive language to explain or to ask questions.
- Recognize letters and letter-sound matches.
- Show familiarity with rhyming and beginning sounds.
- Understand that print is read left-to-right and top-to-bottom.
- Begin to match spoken words with written ones.
- Begin to write letters of the alphabet and some words they use and hear often.
- Begin to write stories with some readable parts.
At age 6, most first-graders can:
- Read and retell familiar stories.
- Use a variety of ways to help with reading a story such as rereading, predicting what will happen, asking questions, or using visual cues or pictures.
- Decide on their own to use reading and writing for different purposes;
- Read some things aloud with ease.
- Identify new words by using letter-sound matches, parts of words and their understanding of the rest of a story or printed item.
- Identify an increasing number of words by sight.
- Sound out and represent major sounds in a word when trying to spell.
- Write about topics that mean a lot to them.
- Try to use some punctuation marks and capitalization.
**Based on information from Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children, a report of the National Research Council, by the Committee on the Prevention of Reading Difficulties in Young Children, 1998; and from the Joint Position Statement of the International Reading Association (IRA) and theNational Association for the Education of Young Children(NAEYC), 1998.
Calm. Relaxed. Smiling. Words seldom heard when parents describe the morning routine on school days. No one wants to start their day in a frenzied mess of untied shoes and breakfast in hand as the school bus approaches. Follow these five short recommendations for smoothing out those rough mornings.
Pack lunches the night before
If your child brings their lunch to school, pack it up the night before. A simple trick for keeping those PB&J’s from getting soggy is to spread peanut butter on both pieces of bread. Complaints about apple slices that have browned? Dip apple slices into orange juice or Sprite before packing them up.
Pack the book bag
As you’re packing lunch, ask your child to pack her bookbag. Double check for things like library books, field trip permission forms, or other special items that need to be returned to school.
Think breakfast menu
Work with your child to write a short list of acceptable healthy breakfast foods. Turn the list into a menu that can be posted on the refrigerator and ask your child to fill it out before going to bed. Or, if it’s too hard to choose at night, a short list will make it easier to choose from in the morning.
You’re wearing that?
Many kids make fashion choices that differ from what parents may choose. Decide ahead of time what’s appropriate to wear to school. Then, let your child choose from those items. That sense of individuality and choice is important for many school-age kids.
Go ahead, set that alarm clock
Now set it for 10 minutes earlier. Until a good school routine is established, recognize that everything will take extra time. Give your child (and yourself!) the cushion of a few extra minutes. Once your routine is in place, you may find you can get up a little later.
These five recommendations might not smooth out every wrinkle in your morning routine, but they may leave your family feeling a little calmer, relaxed, and who knows, maybe smiling!
Dr. Seuss was born on March 2, 1904. He created over 60 children’s books. I was a huge Dr. Seuss fan growing up and I still get very excited to read his books to my little ones.
Visit Seussville for fun and games with the little ones.
- When you are teaching children aged 4 and under, they do not have the ability to sit down and listen longer than 10 minutes. Actually, they do not have the ability to listen to anything longer than 10 minutes if they are not being interactive.
- Try to make learning “hands-on”. If you are in the kitchen cooking, have your child identify the letter names and sounds with “letter magnets”. Leapfrog has a wonderful toy that sings the sound of each letter while sitting on the refrigerator.
- Don’t make learning painful. If your child is becoming restless, bored, or aggravated with learning just STOP! The last thing you want to do is make your child lose their love for learning.
- Try to incorporate your child’s favorite characters so that you may hold their attention for a longer period.
- Don’t try to teach your child around naptime or bedtime. They are not going to remember anything if their mind is already half asleep.
- Always teach to your child’s ability. If your child does not know all of the letter names and letter sounds, do not attempt to teach them to read. You will frustrate them and they will believe that learning to read is to way too hard.
These are just a few of the tips that you should keep in mind while teaching your preschooler. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.