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The Struggling Readers Who Need Help

Mar 28, 2008
Getting in the habit of reading early stokes the fires of curiosity and general reading habits later in life. That is why most programs that spearhead the population of elementary students look to catch struggling readers at as early of an age as possible. To grasp the scope of the problem, it's been estimated that 40 percent of children find reading as a challenge and should benefit for a more aggressive education campaign.

Reasons Why Young Students Struggle

Science has long tried to find definite answers for difficulty in reading development. The answers can be as enigmatic as the brain itself, but the researchers, along with parents and teachers, have come upon some possible reasons. One of the biggest contributors that seem to cause this is simply the lack of time a parent reads to their child before they enter school. This is not to say that it's the sole reason -- some children are being read to -- but the majority of them are either not read to or are given little page time. And even further reason behind that is that they've shown that a good deal of those parents don't take the time to read themselves or are adult struggling readers, which is another topic unto itself.

Aside for the simple act of reading demonstrated, the trickier answers are even harder to uncover. To be more specific, student children are usually good at getting to know letters, words and the alphabet. The problem is the overall syntax of putting them together in their mind getting lost somewhere and the gaps proving hard to define and specifically outline.

Smaller populations of student children who struggle reading have physical or mental disabilities that can compound the difficulties of reading as well.

Reading Strategies to Help

Three motivators are in play to get over the difficulties of reading. The motivators are people: parents, teachers and the child; each need to do their own part. The following are some examples of what can be done from each perspective regarding getting over a phonetic problem when reading.

From the child's point of view, some habits can be done to make the act of reading more fun:

- Writing more notes to pass to friends or family as a sneaky way of communicating
- Playing with magnetic letters while singing or playing a game
- When sounding out a new word lettering, look at all of the letters in the word rather that word to word pronunciation

Parents can help with such projects as well while employing their own methods which can range from such projects as:

- Pointing to random letters and asking your child to name them (cereal boxes are great during breakfast)
- Similar to the note passing theme above, have them write a letter to grandma or add to a birthday card, make writing a form of learning to read
- Use the computer to help; there are tons of reading software sources out there that help struggling readers

Teachers will have a battery of information on ways to address readers in a variety of ways. Fourth grade teachers have a very crucial role because this is a transition period for most early readers where the act of reading and comprehending what is read needs to be bridged. There are a number of instruction techniques out there and a number of organizations that can help. Teachers can organize with the school principals or reading specialists to bring on new programs to address the struggling readers at all levels of elementary education.
About the Author
Scholastic (http://www.teacher.scholastic.com/products/read180/overview/) aims to help struggling readers by providing learning tools for teachers and parents. Scholastic advocates the use of the Read180 program, a program that is designed uniquely for such readers. Art Gib is a freelance writer.
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