Have you ever been in a room with people coughing and sneezing, wondering if you were going to get sick? It seems inevitable when germs are flying all over the place, but somehow you were able to escape. A day or two passes, and you are fine. Your friends, however, were not so lucky. How did the cold hit some and not others? A better immune system, hand washing, or just plain dumb luck might explain how you escaped the illness. Being in the same room as a sick person is no guarantee you will catch a cold, even though there is a good chance you will pick it up.
Being in a room with sick people is no different from children being in a room with lots of books; there is no guarantee that children will catch the reading “bug.” All the word walls, packed book bins, and daily read-alouds might increase the chances of children learning to read, but there will be some who just don’t get it. Learning by “osmosis” works for many children, but approximately 20% of all students need a direct approach. Many teachers will argue that giving children books and a love of reading are enough, and I would agree that having a great selection of books and sharing a love of reading are important, but I disagree that all children will learn by just surrounding them with a literature-rich environment.
The only way to ensure that ALL children learn to read is to teach reading, not just hope that they all catch on. This means that all teachers need to know how to teach reading using proven methods endorsed by the International Dyslexia Association (IDA). The IDA’s standards are being met by resistance at some universities across the country as more states, like New York, are trying to pass bills to ensure that teacher training programs include scientifically-based reading instruction. The bill also includes early screening for dyslexia and in-service training for all teachers to know how to identify a reading problem. It seems ludicrous that we would need a bill to spell out the obvious, especially since the reading research has been in the public domain for many years. Groups such as Decoding Dyslexia have formed to bring awareness to our elected officials and push for change. Awareness alone, however, will not change faulty methods from being perpetuated. A commitment to all children is required, and maybe this time the reading “bug” will reach each and every child. Your voice counts.
Faith Borkowsky, Owner and Lead Educational Consultant of High Five Literacy and Academic Coaching, is a Certified Wilson Dyslexia Practitioner, is Orton-Gillingham trained, and has extensive training and experience in a number of other research-based, peer-reviewed programs that have produced positive gains for students with dyslexia, auditory processing disorder, ADD/ADHD, and a host of learning difficulties.
Her book, Reading Intervention Behind School Walls: Why Your Child Continues to Struggle, is available on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/dp/1543060781
High Five Literacy and Academic Coaching is located in Plainview, Long Island. Read about what we can offer you and your child: http://highfiveliteracy.com.