Thursday, May 19, 2016

Ideas to help reluctant readers

Reading is an essential life-skill. We must be able to read, understand and follow prints, which are there all around us.

To learn to read is tough. Many people consider reading as a 1-step milestone and make statements like, “When will my child learn reading?”

Reading is like walking perhaps. Like walking involves several prerequisites, reading does too. Like walking requires development of several skills, reading does too. If a child is struggling with reading, it simply means the delay/lack of a prerequisite.

Let’s have a look at the prerequisites:
1.    Alphabet recognition
2.    Alphabet-sound relationship
3.    Analysis and synthesis skills
4.    Vocabulary
5.    Sensory integration
6.    Visual-spatial skill
7.    Visual memory
8.    Auditory closure
9.    Auditory memory
10.Auditory discrimination
12.Confidence and Self-motivation

Common problems observed in reading:
1.    Random guesses
2.    Poor comprehension
3.    Confusion with sounds
4.    Skipping words/lines
5.    Reversals of letter sequences
6.    Mirroring of letters
7.    Lack of interest
8.    Fear of failure
9.    Laziness
10. Poor memory of the read material

Common interventions:
Observe the kind of error the child makes and rectify accordingly. If the child reads a few letters of a word and guesses the rest of it (bride as bread), it could be due to poor vocabulary (bride is less familiar than bread), or poor auditory discrimination (/ide/ sounds similar to /ead/ to the child), or anxiety (reads first few letters and says the first word that comes to mind to avoid being called dumb or lazy), or something else. Reading analysis is the key to good help.

Few simple techniques:
1.    Give more emphasis to coding-decoding (analysis and synthesis) of letters’ combinations than on individual letter sounds
2.    Associate words/sentences with pictures and colors. They keep the right-brain engaged enough for the left-brain to focus on text.
3.    Use multi-sensory methods for better sensory integration while reading. Let the tactile, motor, visual, auditory memory lead to better retention and interest.
4.    Use the system of “word of the week”, “word of the day”. Use the chosen words in various ways.
5.    Let the child teach. Teaching is the best way to learn.
6.    Show usefulness of reading. Show how reading is useful in daily life, beyond classroom. Show, not preach!
7.    Expose the child to varieties. Get illustrated books, comics, semi-graphic chapter books, puzzles books, quiz books to add to stories and encyclopedia.

Parting wisdom:

Reading should be fun. It shouldn’t be always followed by a quick comprehension to ‘test’ the child.

Read and be a good role model. Parents don’t read books these days and children haven’t seen parents during their childhood. Children do as they see. So read, create a ‘bookmosphere’ at home and you will see a change!