Reading — Rx for Success

By: Linda Schrock Taylor - June 23, 2003

I carry my Reading First Aid Kit' with me wherever I go, and have already used it on this vacation. The word soon spreads and a knock is heard at the camper door; a little voice asks, "Would you have time to teach me to read better?" I make the time. When school is in session, children stop by my classroom to ask, "Will you be staying after school any night this week and I could get some extra lessons?" I make time for those, too. I find it interesting to note which children care enough, and are forthright enough, to ask. It tells me a lot about the character of these children and I would like to especially commend Rebecca, Calvin, Jason and Aaron.

My goals during these first aid' treatments are to help the child or adult:

This must sound like a daunting task to those who have been brainwashed by professors who have never overcome their fear of phonics; who have never learned how to actually teach reading; who have never willingly admitted to the mass failures of the whole language/look-say erroneous philosophies.' (Using the word methods' would give undeserved credence to a blindness of purpose which has served to bring about unconscionable results — results which have gravely jeopardized the American ideals of life, liberty, and literacy; have destroyed the ability of increasing numbers of American citizens to understand and jealousy guard their rights, freedoms and heritage.

However, the task of teaching children to read is neither daunting nor difficult if parents and teachers will take the time to gain the necessary knowledge and skills — techniques which the teacher-training colleges refuse to discover and pass on to future teachers, despite the fact that students are paying expensive tuition for just such information and training.

Consider the fact that one-roomed schoolhouse teachers (lacking college degrees, modern teaching credentials, mandated curriculum and benchmarks) accepted ANY and ALL children — no matter how poorly clothed or underfed; no matter how literate or illiterate the parents — and taught the children to read, spell, write, cipher, think, learn. It is inexcusable that modern schools fail to accomplish these goals with today's children.

Although I have a clinic and a classroom full of reading materials, when I travel, I carry those items with which I can make the greatest impact in the shortest amount of time. In my kit I have:

I also carry a page explaining the six types of syllables:

In 1996, the Scientific American magazine published an article entitled, "10 Years of Brain Imaging Research Shows the Brain Reads Sound by Sound." But still, in 2003, most teachers have never been told of that research, and continue to pass on students who do not spell, cannot read above the third-grade level, have poor writing skills, and worse rational thought patterns. The research clearly shows that the brain "recognizes groups of sounds as words" rather than recognizing words as whole units.

Effective readers read by decoding words! Readers read by sounding out words — and the more automatic that decoding process becomes, the better the student reads. When decoding is effortless and automatic, the brain can focus on comprehension of the text. "Without the ability to sound out words, the brain is stumpedOur brain becomes adept at processing and our experience is that of hearing words but actually our brain is processing sounds (phonemes) and putting them together so we hear words. When we read, the same process is in operationReading is not automatic but must be learned. The reader must develop a conscious awareness that the letters on the page represent the sounds of the spoken word." (Scientific American, 1996) Insist that children be taught both the simple, and the advanced, Code — for use with automatic, accurate decoding skills and strategies.

There are some children who just seem to effortlessly learn to read. Unfortunately, these 'success stories' allow educators to inaccurately assess teaching philosophies and methods. Educators often accept the credit for children who learned to read 'in spite of the teaching,' yet blame someone, or something, for the children teachers fail to teach to read. Favorite culprits in the blame-game are: Learning Disabilities, dyslexia, broken homes, poverty, illiterate families, ADD, ADHD The real villains in the illiteracy and dumbing down debacle of public education are the teacher training institutions. If the instructors at those colleges would ever get it right' then they could train teachers who would understand the reading process and begin their careers truly knowing how to teach reading.

If your child, your grandchild, your neighbor's child, even your neighbor, cannot read well enough to meet potential, I would encourage you to become informed about the reading process and prepare to teach reading. Study the books: Speech to Print by Louisa Cook Moats, and The Writing Road to Reading by Romalda Spalding — Edited by Dr. Mary North. If possible, enroll in a two-week Spalding training class. Gather items for your own First Aid Kit' and begin teaching children and adults to read. You do not have to be a teacher — certified or otherwise! The more you practice, the more skills you will develop, and the more life-changing instruction you will give. Teach others how to teach reading and assist in creating an army of volunteer instructors who can reach across the country, teaching people how to read, to think, and to take back America. The schools are not doing it, so it is up to We the People. Pick up the torch' and pass it on!

June 23, 2003

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