BY CAROLE RICHARDS
About fifteen years ago, I got a call from a doctor who was dyslexic. He was obviously bright. He had graduated from college and medical school. But, he had not passed his written medical licensing board exam.
The Magic Pill
I met with the doctor and his wife and to discuss the structure of words…the sounds, syllables and patterns in words.
The doctor worked with Fritz, one of our finest reading tutors for just a month. I just learned, that was all he needed. She said, that when she showed him how words are made up of syllables, “a lightbulb went on in his mind”. He had struggled with the pharmaceutical vocabulary. Once he understood how words were put together, he got it.
Well, as I often say, there is no magic reading pill. Perhaps for the doctor, Fritz provided a magic pill. He was able to put it all together.
We also worked with a fourteen-year-old boy. He was able to understand the system in just ten hours one summer. That fall, he signed up for honors English his freshman year of high school. This sounds like another magic pill.
The Importance of Decoding
Most often students need more than four or ten hours to improve their reading and spelling skills. However, these two examples illustrate that sometimes students are missing some puzzle pieces in their reading and spelling. Their writing and comprehension skills suffer because they can’t decode and spell efficiently.
The Elephant in the Room — A Literacy Crisis
I continue to talk about our United States literacy crisis. There are millions of children and adults that are not able to be the best they can be because they cannot read and spell well. Some are like the doctor and the fourteen-year-old. Most have more significant reading problems.
Many of our teachers don’t know a reading method in order to help these students. If you have a child in school, ask your child’s teacher what reading method they use. When I ask this question, most answer, “a little of this” or “a little of that”. Our schools ask our children to memorize about one hundred words a year. They expect these words to support a child’s ability to read. For about 25% of children, this is enough. They break the reading code and are able to break words into syllables to read and spell.
Does the Ability to Read Relate to the IQ?
About 50% of our children muddle through. They can read at differing levels of ability. However, school would be more fun and much easier if they read and spelled better. Then we come to the final 25% that we see most often. They read very poorly, and spelling is even worse. And they often feel they are “stupid”. Reading well has nothing to do with intelligence. It is a skill we all can master. We have seen students with IQ’s as low as 40 begin to read novels with some efficiency. So, if your child is of average intelligence, reading and spelling well should not be out of their reach. Once they learn to read, their confidence will soar.
Take the Next Step with Private Tutoring
So, back to our doctor…even he needed to improve his reading skills. Ask yourself, does my child struggle in school because of poor reading skills? Could your child be a good, or even great, student if his/her reading was improved?
Email or call me to discuss it further. I am doing an informal survey of what people think.
Carole Richards is president of North Coast Tutoring Services, Inc., president of the Creative Education Institute, and author of Richards Learning Systems® and RICHARDS READ. She is a frequent guest on radio and TV. Contact Carole by phone at (440) 914-0200 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.