Reading and learning are the two things that determine the success of a child during his school career. First he learns to read. Then he reads to learn. Because the child with reading problems and reading difficulties battles to read, he is therefore also hampered in the learning situation.
Unfortunately poor reading skills, and therefore poor learning skills, have become a reality for an alarming number of children. Dr. Reid Lyon states that approximately 20 to 30 percent of school-age children have difficulties learning to read. In an American study the National Assessment Governing Board tested students nationwide and rated their reading abilities at four levels: Below Basic, Basic, Proficient, and Advanced. Thirty-eight percent of fourth grade students were rated Below Basic. In the same study, only 31% of students were at or above the acceptable level of Proficient.
Because reading is essential in life and making a living, reading difficulties at school can lead to great anxiety in parents, and can have destructive emotional effects on children.
How to identify reading difficulties
The signs or symptoms below indicate that a child has a reading problem and therefore needs help:
- One of the most obvious — and a common — telltale sign is reversals. Children with this kind of problem often confuse letters like b and d, or they sometimes read words like rat for tar, or won for now.
- Another sure sign, which needs no confirmation by means of any form of testing, is elisions, that is when a child sometimes reads cat when the word is actually cart.
- The child who reads very slowly and hesitantly, who reads without fluency, word by word, or who constantly loses his place, thereby leaving out whole chunks or reading the same passage twice, has a reading problem.
- The child may try to sound out the letters of the word, but then be unable to say the correct word. For example, he may sound the letters c-a-t but then say cold.
- He may read the letters of a word in the wrong order, like left for felt, or the syllables in the wrong order, like emeny for enemy, or words in the wrong order, like are there for there are.
- He may read with poor comprehension, or it may be that he remembers little of what he reads.
Find the cause to find the cure
Successful intervention is dependent on finding the cause or causes of a problem. Most problems can only be solved if one knows their causes. A disease such as pellagra, also called the disease of the four D’s — dermatitis, diarrhea, dementia and death — took the lives of thousands in the Southern states of America during the early part of the twentieth century. Today, pellagra is virtually unknown because we know that it is caused by a vitamin B3 deficiency. A viable point of departure would thus be to ask the question, “What causes reading difficulties?”
To fully understand the cause of reading problems it is important to take note of the fact that there is nothing that any human being knows, or can do, that he has not learned. If you dump a little puppy into the water, it will swim. Do the same with a human child, and it will drown. The child must learn to swim.
There is yet another, equally important fact, which is also a sine qua non towards the understanding of reading problems, and which has also so far been overlooked, viz. that learning is a stratified process. This is a self-evident fact, yet its significance in the situation of the child with a reading problem has apparently never been fully comprehended. Throughout the world in all educational systems it is commonly accepted that a child must start at the lower levels of education and then gradually progress to the higher levels. If human learning had not been a stratified process, if it had taken place on a single level, this would have been unnecessary. It would then not have been important to start a child in first grade. It would have been possible for the child to enter school at any level and to complete the school years in any order.
A simpler example to illustrate the stratified nature of learning is the fact that one has to learn to count before it becomes possible to learn to add and subtract. Suppose one tried to teach a child, who had not learned to count yet, to add and subtract. This would be quite impossible and no amount of effort would ever succeed in teaching the child these skills. In the same way, there are also certain skills and knowledge that a child must have acquired first, before it becomes possible for him to benefit from a course in reading.
Edublox offers cognitive training programs, aimed at developing and automating the foundational skills that are required for reading and learning: concentration: accurate perception; visual discrimination of foreground-background, color, form, size and position-in-space; auditory discrimination, synthesis and analysis; decoding and integration of information; visual closure; imagination; visual memory of forms and sequence; auditory memory; short-term memory and working memory; as well as logical thinking. By addressing these foundational skills, reading problems and reading difficulties — and other learning difficulties — can be overcome and prevented.