During October, we celebrated the national #DyslexiaAwarenessMonth. Dyslexia means “difficulty with words” and refers to the most common learning disability seen in approximately 17% of the student population. The lack of automatic word recognition skills often results in an inability to read with understanding, making the act of reading a failed one.
MRC wants to share some of our most important lessons learned during our years in the field of literacy:
For teacher preparation programs- Teachers cannot give to their students what they do not possess (known as the “Peter Effect”). The Science of Reading is based on research findings of over 30 years from the field of cognitive neuroscience. Every teacher, no matter the subject area, teaches reading.Therefore, teachers deserve to be well versed in the Science of Reading and its implications for literacy instruction; only then will they be equipped to address the literacy needs of their students.
For school administrators- Reading with comprehension requires both decoding and language comprehension skills. Language arts programs must offer instruction in both of these areas. Ideally we should be offering differentiated phonics instruction to students within language rich environments where students are constantly exposed to vocabulary and knowledge through books, books, books, and more books.
For educators- Automatic word recognition is the main difference between skilled and struggling readers. Being able to establish a link between pronunciation and meaning of words allows the brain to store words in its long term memory freeing up space to focus on comprehension. Teaching phonics in a systematic and explicit manner is a way to “even the playing field”. A child who has access to words will learn vocabulary and acquire knowledge.
For parents and/or caregivers- Our brains are not born ready to learn to read. Just as you supported your child by lending a hand so they could walk. The reading brain needs you. READ to your child. TALK to your child about BOOKS. It will result in increased language skills; it will make a difference. Just 15 minutes of reading with your child a day can expose them to 1 million written words in a year.
For local policy makers in Puerto Rico- By now public school students have missed approximately 165 days of school. Denying students access to education increases the likelihood of learning to read becoming a rich man’s game. Learning to read is having access to knowledge.Puerto Rico cannot afford leaving the future of this island behind.
#Webinars | We began this special month with a webinar by Dr. Tridas, "The Perfect Storm: Inattention, Dyslexia, and Anxiety". The discussion included the impact that these disorders have in the social emotional development and learning of students, as well as strategies for their management. The 88 participants walked away with a sense of responsibility for aiding students in developing coping mechanisms as “it is not our fault but it is our problem.”
#ReadingClinic | The reading clinic continues providing one-on-one intervention services (virtually) despite the challenges of COVID. Our enrollment during the 2020-21 remains stable. Stories of success from students who received services uninterruptedly between January until June reveal an improvement of two grade levels in word recognition, paired with an average increase of 60% in reading fluency and of 15% on comprehension measures.
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