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Why Some Children Have Difficulties Learning to Read

December 18, 2010

Why Some Children Have Difficulties Learning to Read

By: G. Reid Lyon (2000)

Source:  Reading Rockets

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.


How to Help an At-Risk Child

November 6, 2010

Reading Rockets: How to Help an At-Risk Child.

If a child’s history suggests increased risk for reading difficulties, it is critical that he or she receive the following.

  • Prompt, appropriate intervention for any ongoing difficulties, such as language or hearing problems in the preschool years
  • A comprehensive, high-quality program of early reading instruction
  • Close monitoring for any signs of reading difficulties in the early grades so that these difficulties may be addressed as quickly as possible

These practices are helpful for all children but especially for children at risk. Research shows that excellent instruction, couples with ongoing monitoring and assessment of progress, can prevent reading problems in many children.

Comprehensive, high-quality instruction means that instruction addresses all of the basic abilities that are important in learning to read and write – phonemic awareness, knowledge of sounds for letters and letter patterns, word decoding, language comprehension and vocabulary, reading comprehension, spelling, and written expressions. And it does so in a manner that is consistent with research-based principles (e.g., that the instruction is explicit and systematic).

Knowledgeable teachers and first-rate pre-service teacher preparation are vital for providing children with this kind of instruction. However, to meet the wide range of children’s needs that exist in any classroom, teaches also require support – the support of involved parents and administrators, adequate instructional resources, adequate allocation of time in the school day, access to specialists, and ongoing professional development opportunities.

Finally, even with excellent instruction and parental support, some children may continue to experience difficulties in reading or writing. For these children, more intensive and sometimes long-term interventions – including, in some cases, special education services – may be needed. But high-quality classroom instruction and short-term early intervention can go a long way toward preventing or at least ameliorating many reading problems.


Learning to Read

September 11, 2010

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.

Reading Rockets: No More Morning Madness!

September 9, 2010

Reading Rockets: No More Morning Madness!.

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!

Is Something as Simple as Reading With My Child Worth It? | Literacy Connections

June 17, 2010

Is Something as Simple as Reading With My Child Worth It? | Literacy Connections.

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!!!

March 3, 2010

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.

Tips to Think About Before Teaching Your Preschooler!!

December 10, 2009
Sometimes parents get so caught up with their children learning to read and write that they forget to make learning a “fun” activity for them. Here are a few things to remember when trying to get your child to learn a concept.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Try to incorporate your child’s favorite characters so that you may hold their attention for a longer period.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

A Brand New Day!!

December 6, 2009
I finally decided to start my blog!!  This is definitely a milestone for me!  I plan to blog about different topics in regard to reading and writing for preschoolers and school age children.  I hold education very dear to my heart and I love to spread the word.  I invite you to make comments on any of my post and feel free to ask me questions at anytime.  Please read my “About Me” section to get to know me a little better!