For some people, learning to read and write seems natural, goes smoothly, and leads to successful experiences. Reading often becomes a pleasurable pastime. For others, learning to read and write well is a challenge that leaves them feeling frustrated and school becomes a dreaded daily event. Here are some explanations for common literacy concerns.
When Low Motivation Affects Learning
Dropping grades and low motivation are definitely red flags. There are many possible reasons for the change in Michael’s grades and disposition. The first course of action might be a calm, sensitive conversation with him. Put the ball in his court. “I’ve noticed that you don’t seem to be as interested in school work as usual. What’s going on?” Let him lead the conversation to discover if there is a motivation issue at play. Discuss the possibility of shifting the content of lessons to one of his personal interests. For example, use his passion for cooking or the parameters of a football field to explore fractions or study percentages using baseball stats. In language arts, teach character analysis using a novel that he chooses. A second possible explanation for Michael’s resistance is that he is reacting to the increasing difficulty of new work. This might mean that the pace of instruction is too fast, or he needs more supportive instruction to handle the new work. Reconsider the work and get his feedback on its difficulty. Future blog posts will focus a lot on motivation to read and write.
Programs Don’t Teach Reading. People Do.
When you search the Internet for “help with reading” or “my kid isn’t learning to read, you will get lots of hits. Most of these will take you to websites or further links to “programs,” “resources,” or “sure-fire materials” that are the solution to all your problems. But don’t get caught up in the frenzied market of reading programs available out there. They are bright and colorful. They use all the right words like fluency, comprehension, standards-based, and higher-level thinking. They cost a lot so they must be good. Right??? Wrong! Programs don’t teach people to read – people do. When you need help with reading, seek help from a qualified person, not a program.
Early Literacy Learning
Learning about literacy in the preschool years is very natural. Listening to stories, reciting nursery rhymes, playing rhyming games, and writing your name are just like other play activities. Books are just more toys. Sometimes, when we introduce children to formal instruction, we use programs or materials that are different. For example, the instruction may be made up of pages and pages of worksheets that don’t even resemble those fun, early experiences. It’s not surprising that a child might respond negatively. Consider exploring other ways to teach literacy that are a natural extension of those early, pleasurable literacy experiences. Watch for an upcoming blog post on this very topic.