Does Your Student
- Understand text better when you read to him than when he reads it to himself? (Decoding is interfering with comprehension.)
- Read smoothly and easily, or herky-jerky? (Inference, the most important engine for comprehension, requires automatic, effortless decoding.)
- Attack new words with confidence, or guess, skip words, or give up? (“I can’t” and “I don’t know” indicate lack of effective strategies for independent reading and are characteristic of students learning English [over 30%], but rare [less than 1.5%] in students learning to read Finnish, Italian, Spanish, German, Dutch….)
- Make a good grade (perhaps) on a Friday spelling test, but misspell when writing? (More importantly, how well would he spell the same words three weeks from now with no further practice on those words?) Is he building knowledge of the details of syllables (the path to accuracy and fluency) or just memorizing short-term for a test?
How is Family Literacy Different?
We provide explicit instruction.
- Explicit instruction “does not leave anything to chance and does not make assumptions about the skills and knowledge that children will acquire on their own” (Torgesen, 2004, p. 5).
- Explicit instruction identifies and works on the specific obstacles that cause students to struggle with reading. Some obstacles are almost always fixable; others can be worked around to develop effective reading skills.
- The support materials that are used in explicit instruction directly support the teacher in providing differentiated instruction in small groups.
- The support materials that are used in explicit instruction directly support the parent in providing effective home support that accelerates reading progress.
- Explicit instruction prevents a slow start in reading from developing into a chronic reading problem.
- Thirty years of research coordinated and funded by the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) shows that, if explicit instruction were applied to the general population, 95% of students would read within the average range (above the 25th to 30th percentile) (Lyon, 2002) and nearly 99% (including children with autism or mental retardation) would achieve useful reading skills (Mathes, 2005).
- The principal conclusions of NICHD reading research have been confirmed by cross-language studies involving 13 European languages (Seymour et al., 2003; Blomert, 2010). The complex code of English makes it the most difficult alphabetic language to learn. Unfortunately, explicit instruction has been largely limited to funded studies and demonstration projects.
- The following table and brain scan is from a study was published in 2002 as part of brain-imaging research. At the time we were using the NICHD intensive model (2 hours per day of one-on-one instruction). This study was the first demonstration that explicit reading therapy not only brought reading into the average range in just two months, but also led to massive shifts in brain activity, normalizing the brain scans.
For additional information on reading research and brain scans, click here.
Since 2002 Family Literacy Network has expanded beyond dyslexia and ADHD to apply explicit instruction with a wide range of students (including children with autism, speech/language delay, and mental retardation). We have expanded support for parents. Except in the summer, few students can come to therapy on a daily basis, but parental involvement helps to achieve the intensity and consistency of explicit instruction that almost always produces effective, independent reading skills. In the process, parents also gain effective ways to help their child generalize reading skills to all school subjects, homework, and writing.
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