Many parents are devastated when they discover that their child is struggling in school. Reading, the most essential component to learning, is often the stumbling block for many struggling students. After exhausting all of the in-school resources and expertise, parents often are at a loss for what to do or where to go for assistance.
Much of the problem lies in the fact that reading difficulties are often misdiagnosed or misunderstood. According to the International Dyslexia Association: Of students with learning disabilities who receive special education services, 80 – 85% have their basic deficits in language and reading. In short, they simply cannot make sense of what they read. What parents need to understand is that there is no correlation between intelligence and early reading attainment.
Many children find reading difficult because of the way it is taught and not because they do not have the intellectual skill to learn to read. Since the 1950’s, most educational systems in North American went away from teaching reading from a phonetic base to teaching it as a pictographic base. E.g. recognizing words based on word shape or initial letter pattern.
It is important for parents and teachers to understand that phonics is not a method of teaching. It is a body of knowledge that one needs to know. Written text is simply spoken speech put on paper and we use a code and set of rules to do that. Phonics is simply the code. It is because English is a sound based language that learning to read based on shape recognition becomes confusing to many individuals.
Reading difficulties are becoming more commonplace than they use to be and in our fast paced world it is imperative that they be dealt with quickly. It has been estimated that information is doubling every five years. That is a tremendous pace to keep up with and if reading is a struggle the learning gap widens and difficulties only get worse.
School systems seem to be having difficulty dealing with the increasing numbers of students who, for the most part, seem to be perfectly capable but struggle with text based learning. The key to ensuring that the problem gets sorted out as soon as possible is to get a reading assessment done. If you have to go outside of the school system to get one done then do so. Once you know what level your child is at and what areas specifically may be difficult for them, you will be better able to take steps to correct the problem.
Lani Donaldson is the President/CEO of Engaged Educators Inc.