Secrets to Reading Success: from the Early Years to First Grade

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An effective literacy program should encompass all six of these components. Each component is a piece of the puzzle that when assembled together in a coherent way results in a successful literacy program. Check it out!

This blog is the first in a series about literacy programs. Stay tuned for a more in-depth look at each component in an effective literacy program. The next blog in the series will be about phonemic awareness. Erin has a bachelor's degree in history and has spent time doing primary source research in England. Erin will mostly be writing blogs from the perspective of a first-time parent. Your email address will not be published.

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How to Encourage Children to Read - Reading Lessons

Six Components of an Effective Literacy Program. What makes an effective literacy program? Phonemic Awareness Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear that a spoken word is made up of a series of discrete sounds. Phonemic awareness is an important component of a good literacy program for a few reasons: Teaching phonemic awareness allows for greater printed word recognition. Teaching phonemic awareness teaches children to identify, understand, and manipulate sounds in spoken words.

Teaching phonemic awareness helps teachers recognize if students will have trouble with reading and spelling. Phonics Instruction Phonics instruction is teaching children that specific sounds belong to specific letters and letter patterns. Phonics instruction is a vital part of a literacy program for these reasons: Phonics instruction helps children decode words by recognizing the sounds that accompany letters and letter patterns.

Phonics instruction increases fluency by helping children read more accurately and with ease. Phonics instruction helps with reading comprehension. Dyslexia is most commonly associated with trouble learning to read. Kids with dyslexia have a hard time decoding new words, or breaking them down into manageable chunks they can then sound out.

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This causes difficulty with reading, writing and spelling. Some youngsters with dyslexia are able to keep up with their peers with extra effort at least for the first few grades. But by the third grade or so, when they need to be able to read quickly and fluently in order to keep up with their work, they run into trouble. With help and strategies for compensating for their weakness in decoding, students with dyslexia can learn to read and thrive academically. But dyslexia is not something one grows out of.

It is estimated that as many as one in five kids has dyslexia , and that 80 to 90 percent of kids with learning disorders have it. Sally Shaywitz, co-director of the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity, notes that many children go undiagnosed as struggles in school are incorrectly attributed to intelligence, level of effort or environmental factors.

Learning to Read: How Young is Too Young?

Although experts used to say that dyslexia occurred more often in boys than in girls, current research indicates that it affects boys and girls equally. Dyslexia affects a lot more than reading — it can also impact a child socially.

Kids with dyslexia — particularly those who have yet to be diagnosed — often suffer from low self-esteem because they worry that there is something wrong with them, and are often accused of not trying hard enough to learn to read. Join our list and be among the first to know when we publish new articles. Get useful news and insights right in your inbox. It should also rule out other potential causes like environmental factors or hearing impairment. If you are unhappy with the quality of the evaluation, you can also secure a private evaluation by a psychologist, a neuropsychologist, a reading specialist, a speech and language therapist, an educational evaluator or a school psychologist.

This external evaluation can also be used to advocate for your child and get the accommodations and services she might need. According to a report that KIPP issued last spring, only 33 percent of students who graduated from a KIPP middle school 10 or more years ago have graduated from a four-year college. That rate is considerably better than the 8 percent of children from low-income families who currently complete college nationwide, and it even beats the average national rate of college completion for all income groups, which is 31 percent.

As Levin watched the progress of those KIPP alumni, he noticed something curious: the students who persisted in college were not necessarily the ones who had excelled academically at KIPP; they were the ones with exceptional character strengths, like optimism and persistence and social intelligence.

They were the ones who were able to recover from a bad grade and resolve to do better next time; to bounce back from a fight with their parents; to resist the urge to go out to the movies and stay home and study instead; to persuade professors to give them extra help after class. But for young people without the benefit of a lot of family resources, without the kind of safety net that their wealthier peers enjoyed, they seemed an indispensable part of making it to graduation day.


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What appealed to Levin about the list of character strengths that Seligman and Peterson compiled was that it was presented not as a finger-wagging guilt trip about good values and appropriate behavior but as a recipe for a successful and happy life. Still, neither Levin nor Dominic Randolph had a clear vision of how to turn an page psychology text into a practical program. Duckworth came to Penn in at the age of 32, after working for a decade as a teacher and a charter-school consultant. When she applied to the Ph. True, learning is fun, exhilarating and gratifying — but it is also often daunting, exhausting and sometimes discouraging.

To help chronically low-performing but intelligent students, educators and parents must first recognize that character is at least as important as intellect. People who accomplished great things, she noticed, often combined a passion for a single mission with an unswerving dedication to achieve that mission, whatever the obstacles and however long it might take. She developed a test to measure grit, which she called the Grit Scale.

At Penn, high grit ratings allowed students with relatively low college-board scores to nonetheless achieve high G. Duckworth and her collaborators gave their grit test to more than 1, freshman cadets as they entered West Point and embarked on the grueling summer training course known as Beast Barracks. The military has developed its own complex evaluation, called the Whole Candidate Score, to judge incoming cadets and predict which of them will survive the demands of West Point; it includes academic grades, a gauge of physical fitness and a Leadership Potential Score.

Levin and Randolph asked Duckworth to use the new methods and tools she was developing to help them investigate the question of character at KIPP and Riverdale, and she and a handful of Penn graduate students began making regular treks from Philadelphia to New York. The first question Duckworth addressed, again, was the relative importance of I. They found that at both schools, I. The full list of 24, on the other hand, felt too unwieldy. So they asked Peterson if he could narrow the list down to a more manageable handful, and he identified a set of strengths that were, according to his research, especially likely to predict life satisfaction and high achievement.

After a few small adjustments Levin and Randolph opted to drop love in favor of curiosity , they settled on a final list: zest, grit, self-control, social intelligence, gratitude, optimism and curiosity. Over the course of the next year and a half, Duckworth worked with Levin and Randolph to turn the list of seven strengths into a two-page evaluation, a questionnaire that could be completed by teachers or parents, or by students themselves. For Levin, the next step was clear. Back at Riverdale, though, the idea of a character report card made Randolph nervous.

Still, he did think that the inventory Duckworth and Peterson developed could be a useful tool in communicating with students about character. He talks about character at parent nights, asks pointed questions in staff meetings, connects like-minded members of his faculty and instructs them to come up with new programs. Last winter, Riverdale students in the fifth and sixth grades took the indicator survey, and their teachers rated them as well.

When Randolph arrived at Riverdale, the school already had in place a character-education program, of a sort. Called CARE , for Children Aware of Riverdale Ethics, the program was adopted in in the lower school, which at Riverdale means prekindergarten through fifth grade.

Understanding Dyslexia and How to Help Kids Who Have It

Avoid Gossiping. In the lower school, many teachers describe it as a proud and essential part of what makes Riverdale the school that it is. Martin Luther King Jr. Cohen, the guidance counselor for the middle and upper schools, and Karen Fierst, a learning specialist in the lower school. Cohen is friendly and thoughtful, in her mids, a graduate of Fieldston, the private school just down the road from Riverdale. She is intensely interested in character development, and like Randolph, she is worried about the character of Riverdale students. But she is not yet entirely convinced by the seven character strengths that Riverdale has ostensibly chosen.

Are you honest in dealings with other people? Are you a cheater? Are you a hard worker? I think, Are you a good person? When I spent a day at the school in March, sitting in on a variety of classes and meetings, messages about behavior and values permeated the day, but those messages stayed almost entirely in the moral dimension. It was a hectic day at the middle school — it was pajama day, plus there was a morning assembly, and then on top of that, the kids in French class who were going on the two-week trip to Bordeaux for spring break had to leave early in order to make their overnight flight to Paris.

The topic for the assembly was heroes, and a half-dozen students stood up in front of their classmates — about kids, in all — and each made a brief presentation about a particular hero he or she had chosen: Ruby Nell Bridges, the African-American girl who was part of the first group to integrate the schools in New Orleans in ; Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian fruit vendor whose self-immolation helped spark the recent revolt in that country; the actor and activist Paul Robeson. View all New York Times newsletters. In the assembly, in classes and in conversations with different students, I heard a lot of talk about values and ethics, and the values that were emphasized tended to be social values: inclusion, tolerance, diversity.