Friday, July 31, 2009

Learning to Read: Why It is Crucial to a Child's Future

"The National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD) considers that teaching
and learning in today’s schools reflect not only significant educational concerns, but public health
concerns as well." Children who do not learn to read or understand language, cannot verbalize an opinion or thought, solve problems and cannot calculate and reason mathematically may find that the opportunity for leading a rewarding and fulfilling life are seriously compromised. School failure may have devastating consequences for children and may hinder their ability to interact successfully in society. Since reading forms the basics fundamental for all academic learning it is paramount children learn and become proficient at this skill. Children who experience difficulties may crush the child's excitement for life long learning and pursuits.

Many young people have vocalized their embarassment when asked to read in front of their peers with the knowledge that they are lacking the skills to do so. This perpetuates the feelings of failure even at a very young age if asked day after day to perform this skill in front of the class. They begin to feel less positive about their abilities in school and may start to exhibit behaviour that is negative in order to "escape" a task so are not perceived as incompetent at this task. Once these feelings become entrenched learning becomes more difficult as the child grows older and self-esteem and motivation continue to decline.

G. Reid Lyon, Ph.D., states that poor readers lag far behind in vocabulary development and in the acquisition of strategies for understanding what they read, and they frequently avoid reading and other assignments that require reading. By high school, the potential of these students to enter college has decreased substantially. Students who have stayed in school long enough to reach high school tell us they hate to read because it is so difficult and it makes them feel “dumb.”

This is extremely important to be aware of as it is an indicator for young people who drop out of school as they experience more difficulty in high school. Dropping out of education decreases the adolescents ability to acquire a job and sustain a positive lifestyle. Not learning to read and express themselves puts children at risk as they grow into adults.

Dr. Lyon has found that children who receive stimulating oral language and literacy experiences from birth onward appear to have an edge when it comes to vocabulary development, developing a general aware-ness of print and literacy concepts, understanding and the goals of reading. If young children are read to, they become exposed, in interesting and entertaining ways, to the sounds of our language. Oral language and literacy interactions open the doors to the concepts of rhyming and alliteration, and to word and language play that builds the foundation for phonemic awareness – the critical understanding that the syllables and words that are spoken are made up of small segments of sound (phonemes). Vocabulary and oral comprehension abilities are facilitated substantially by rich oral language inter-actions with adults that might occur spontaneously in conversations and in shared picture book reading.

Dr. Lyon also believes that ultimately, children’s ability to comprehend what they listen to and what they read is inextricably linked to the depth of their background knowledge. Very young children who are provided opportunities to learn, think, and talk about new areas of knowledge will gain much more from the reading process. With understanding comes the desire to read more. Thus, ensuring that reading practice and the development of new vocabulary takes place.
Children that practice reading develop fluency, automaticity, and the ability to read with
expression, and to apply comprehension strategies to what they are reading to facilitate
understanding. It all starts very early, with those initial language and literacy interactions that
expose the child to the structure of our language and how print works (Lyon, 2003).

Substantial research supported by NICHD shows clearly that without systematic, focused, and intensive interventions, the majority of children rarely “catch up.” Failure to develop basic reading skills by age nine predicts a lifetime of illiteracy. Unless these children receive the appropriate instruction, more than 74% of the children entering first grade who are at-risk for reading failure will continue to have reading problems into adulthood. On the other hand, the early identification of children atrisk for reading failure coupled with the provision of comprehensive early reading interventions can reduce the percentage of children reading below the basic level in the fourth grade (i.e., 38%) to six percent or less. (Lyon, 2003).

Lyon state that The National Reading Panel (NRP), convened by the NICHD and the Department of Education, found that instructional programs that provided systematic instruction in phonemic aware-ness, phonics, guided repeated reading to improve reading fluency, and direct instruction in vocabulary and reading comprehension strategies were significantly more effective than approaches that were less explicit and less focused on the reading skills to be taught (e.g.,approaches that emphasize incidental learning of basic reading skills).

The challenge now is to integrate research and study with appropriate strategies for learning to read. Identifying children at a young age is crucial to intervention and promoting an ability to read, comprehend and express through language and the written word. Children who experience difficulties need comprehensive strategies from a young age but many do not receive the extra help they require. The future for these children may become very bleak if difficultires are not rectified early in their lives.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

ADHD: Effective Interventions for the Classroom


The chart above gives teachers ideas on strategies that they can implement in the classroom. The chart was developed by Robert Reid (1999). Other factors that need to be taken into consideration are:

1. Set up the environment: Watch for placement of too many stimulating objects. The main teaching area should be fairly bland as ADHD students become overwhelmed and attracted to stimulating objects. The placement of objects int he classroom needs to be analyzed but also the location of the student within the classroom. Open classrooms can be difficult for ADHD students as it may prove distracting. Have two desks for the ADHD child so they may move from one desk to the other. Stand up desks, seated desks, study carrels - depending on the individual needs of the student.

2. Transition time and instruction giving: Be clear and concise. Stay away from too many instructions at once as ADHD children may have difficulty processing auditory language in a quick and efficient manner. Transition time tends to be unstructured and can pose problems. Give the student a job or something that they need to do while transitioning. Pre-plan and make sure the child is aware of when the transition will be taking place.

3. Organization and time on task: Make sure the student is organized - color code their work, schedule and books. Strategies that teach them what they need to do when stuck are also good - Cognitive strategies with visual cues.

4. Task length: Be aware of the length of time it may take your ADHD child to complete an assignment versus others in the class. Where do they start the assignment and where do they stop? What happens when they finish the task? These questions need to be answered to aid the child in completing tasks and to decrease their tendency to become distracted by other stimulus.

5. Engagement and Proactive: Enter into conversations with the child about their interests and strengths. What do they like to do?? Can you implement these interests in their daily task completions? Find the triggers for their behaviours and be proactive. Triggers may be shown when the student becomes frustrated by their work or by another student. By intervening upon recognition of the trigger it may hopefully decrease the escalation.

6. Peer Tutoring: Train peers to help others with work or social skills. Peers can be extremely beneficial in this process but most would require training to learn how to communicate with students who exhibit behaviours that may not be typical.

7. Self monitoring: Get the student to self-monitor their behaviour. Teach them to recognize their own triggers and implement strategies before they get to a level of frustration where they cannot cope.

We have launched our ONLINE SCHOOL

One of the biggest issues that I hear about from teachers and caregivers is the behaviour of the children or youth in their school, program ...