Too often, I don’t see a child
with reading problems
until he/she is older.
This is because parents wait to seek help. They have one stressful teacher conference after another, but nothing ever really changes. At this point, parents begin to fear that their child has a learning disability.
Everyday, all across America, moms and dads are Googling: “Help! My child can’t read!” only to come across website after website warning them that their child probably has a learning disability.
After all, little Johnny or little Susy cannot read,
so there must be something wrong with them.
In reality, most children are NOT learning disabled. In fact, according to Bruce D. McCandliss of the Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology Weill Medical College of Cornell University, only about 5 to 17 percent of the entire American population has actually been diagnosed with dyslexia.
That means that most children who struggle in reading do not have dyslexia.
I just have to ask this question: Doesn’t it make more sense to first look for another reason behind the inability of non-reading students – another reason other than that of a learning disability? It’s true that a small number of children have learning disabilities, but could the child’s reading problem possibly be stemming from the use of a flawed, inconsistent, ridiculous reading method?
Unfortunately, too many moms and dads wait until their child’s situation gets bad enough before they question the reading methods being used in their child’s classroom - before they realize that their own personal intervention is the necessary step needed to fix the problem.
Most of the children I work with who struggle in reading are helped by giving them systematic, step-by-step phonics lessons – lessons that begin at the beginning and carry a child from simple alphabet sounds all the way through each and every phonogram. Making certain that a child has all the building blocks necessary to sound out every word on the pageis the only way to be certain he has gained the skills to truly read everything put in front of him.
The sight reading methods taught in our American schools do not work. They are flawed. They have always been flawed, because these methods teach children to memorize words as whole units, relying on the picture on the page, word walls, the shape of the word and context clues to help children guess at words.
Rudoph Flesch, author of the 1985 renown book entitled: Why Johnny Can’t Read, stated the problem so simply when he wrote:
“ You know that I was born and raised in Austria. Do you know that there are no remedial reading cases in Austrian schools? Do you know that there are no remedial reading cases in Germany, in France, in Italy, in Norway, in Spain – practically anywhere in the world except in the United States? Do you know that there was no such thing as remedial reading in this country until about thirty years ago? Do you know that the teaching of reading never was a problem anywhere in the world until the United States switched to the present method (look/say/sight reading) around about 1925?”
Parents, we all know that children who can read every word in their textbooks are also the children who can comprehend most of what they read, who can spell correctly, who achieve higher grades in all subject areas, who go through school feeling confident. These are the children who pride themselves in their daily accomplishments, children who pick the right kind of friends, children who pursue extra-curricular activities.
The whole package begins somewhere, and most often that package begins by making sure that a child can sound out words. So, please, don’t wait. When you see your child guessing at words, looking for clues in the context of the sentence, looking at the shape of the word in order to figure out what the word is, these are the first telltale signs that he/she is NOT getting systematic phonics.
The folks at Candy 4WAY Phonics are here to help.
Carol Kay, President
Candy 4WAY Phonics