I was waiting for my gym class to start and I began talking to a woman who had heard me say that I taught Reading Recovery. She wanted to know what she could do for her son in Prep who was falling behind in reading. She had bought him an ‘alphabet app’ and she was investigating spelling programs.
My suggestion was to have him read! Of course children are not going to want to read books that are too hard for them but they do need to read.
Struggling readers need to read more books than those students who find it easy.
I am sometimes asked why harder books are not sent home. I send home books that are very familiar to the student and are within his or her ability to read so that he / she can practice independent reading (reading without help). If the book was too hard it would just add to the frustration that we want to avoid. By taking a running record every day I am able to keep track of which level the student can manage with some support from me. If the level becomes way too easy there is little to stretch the student to learn new ways of solving words, and if a book is too difficult there is no enjoyment and very limited learning opportunities. Sometimes a book and a student just do not match because there is little interest in the topic. If a book is not working out for the student I remove it.
Struggling readers need massive exposure to interesting, colourful and engaging books (books they WANT to read) without the pressure of trying to read the same books as their more capable friends.
My suggestion to the woman with the prep child was to speak to the class teacher about having more books sent home. Perhaps the teacher might know of interesting ‘just right’ books that could be borrowed for a week or so at a time. Reading the same book many times can be a great way of feeling in charge of the book.
Reading to children is fantastic, but they have to do some reading for themselves as well. I went on to explain to my new gym buddy that I could just complain that I was no good at Zumba and give up trying. Those ‘Young Ones’ seem to pick up the new moves faster than me. But I need to help myself by watching and listening to the instructor as she slowly demonstrates new steps, and asking to be shown a tricky move again after the class, and repeatedly going over the dance steps . Avoiding going to the next class is not going to help me, and having someone else do the dancing for me is not going to work. By the way, I also discovered that watching Youtube clips without getting out of the chair does not help much either.
We all have things that we have to work on. Dancers have to dance and readers have to read. But let’s not make the task too daunting.