Have you been wondering…
“How is it that my child can repeat stories in detail but he can’t remember letters?”
“How is it that my child is able to build such elaborate structures with his legos but he can’t tell the difference between some letters?”
“How is it that my child can draw such beautiful pictures but she can’t even write her name?”
“Is it normal that every time I ask my child to practice letters she changes the subject? She suddenly has to go to the bathroom, get a drink or she comes up with another excuse. “
“Why is it that my child works so hard, finally remembers some letters, and then forgets them?”
“Why is it that my child needs to work so hard to learn each letter and each vowel?”
“I had a hard time learning how to read? How can I make sure my child does not have these same painful experiences?”
“I am at a loss. Why does my child seem so different? Will my child catch up and learn how to read?”
“Should I be worried? Will time help? Does my child need help?”
Your concerns matter, your intuition is valuable!
One out of seven learners has literacy learning challenges. That means that you most likely know a couple of adults and children with literacy learning challenges. Reading challenges are so prevalent that almost every class and many families have children with literacy learning differences.
Some of these literacy challenges are relatively mild. For instance, some children may just need a little strategic review and practice to meet expectations and participate in classroom instruction. While other challenges are more profound. These challenges may require an intensive intervention for the child to be able to catch up and learn with his peers. For example, a child that has a hard time hearing the individual sounds in a word, may need to have targeted instruction to be ready for reading and writing.
Is there a way to know more about a child’s instructional needs?
Is there a way to know which children may just need a little more practice and which children may be lacking in some readiness skills?
Yes and yes!
However, it may seem hard to know who may be a risk for literacy challenges.
Some children with mild struggles may work extra hard and figure out how to complete their daily tasks. They may attempt to memorize letters and words instead of using the correct strategies. Memorizing may work—until their memory is too full and they do not have the skills to progress.
Some children with literacy challenges may choose to act defiant or behavioral so they can avoid participating in reading practice. We may think these children are lazy or non-compliant. We may think that if they would just cooperate, then they would surely succeed. However, these children are possibility trying to hide their challenges because they are afraid of feeling ashamed and stupid. They may not have the confidence to to try. Also, practice really may be too hard and frustrating.
Other children can completely make us feel confused. At times they are able to complete their assignments and at other times they cannot. They are extremely inconsistent. We think, maybe we need better prizes, maybe the room needs to be quieter or maybe we need to find a better time to practice.
Knowing if a child needs help does not have to be a mystery.
BH, there are a couple of tools that we can use to easily determine a child’s instructional risks and needs even before they are five years old and even before they have started formal literacy instruction.
In a couple of minutes, we can identify a child’s learning profile and predict who is on track for success, who may need a little extra support and who may need an intensive intervention to keep up with the class level.
We do not need to wait for 3rd grade, when your child is frustrated and no longer confident they can do well. By that time, their attempts to compensate are chipping away at their self esteem, and they often cover up with misbehavior.
We can do a lot in Kindergarten/ Pre1A to prevent your child from falling behind. In the early years of instruction, gaps in readiness are much easier to close. As the years pass, the gap widens and widens. Closing the gap will be more and more daunting.
An ounce of prevention can be much more effective than a pound of intervention.
Again, in a couple of minutes, with the right tools, we can make predictions about a child’s literacy learning aptitude. We can learn about the path the child is on. We can have insight into their instructional needs and risks.
How do we do this?
We look at specific benchmarked skills that are norm-referenced with many children across the nation. We look at benchmark skills that are predictive indicators.
We look at,
- How quickly your child translates written information into oral information (called the phonological processing rate). We do this by seeing how many letters your child can read off a page in one minute.
- If your child can hear and say the individual sounds of words (called phonemic awareness) Can a child hear the individual sounds in the word mat, /m/, /a/ and /t/? And can your child segment these words into sounds automatically?
- If your child can decode a word using the alphabet letters (called phonics). Can your child read fake words such as pef, hag and lub. These words cannot be memorized. Your child will have to know the sounds the letters represent and how to blend the sounds into words.
It is best practice for all children to be screened at least three times a year. It is best if we can screen all children beginning in Kindergarten/Pre1A and find these at-risk children as soon as possible. It is also important to screen children regularly to ensure that everyone is maintaining or improving their status.
Yet, even though learning how to use a reading screener is possible for many of us, it might not be practical or reasonable. Nevertheless, I do think that there should be a tool for parents to use independently to explore if their child should get some additional help.
Therefore, I created a free Literacy Readiness Rating Scale for you to use at home. The objective of this rating scale is to help you explore if your child is ready for formal reading instruction. This rating scale is for parents to use with children entering into their first year of instruction or during their first year of instruction.
So go ahead.
Click here to get your Literacy Readiness Rating Scale, and you can begin to explore your child’s literacy needs.
Once we become aware of a child’s challenges, the healing has begun.