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The Learning Lab
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Image by Susan Holt Simpson
Reading in a Bookstore

Some Thoughts About Reading

 

Back in my day...

In 1973, a few days before my fifth birthday, I entered kindergarten and began to learn to read. Like any child just starting to learn this necessity of life, my teachers began with teaching me the alphabet. I sang the alphabet song, and one by one learned to recognize the letters used to communicate the written word.

      The following year, equipped with a rudimentary knowledge of the alphabet, I began learning phonics. I learned the difference between a vowel and a consonant, and the sounds of each letter. I also learned the rules of phonics that governed those sounds, how to pronounce consonant blends, and how to count the number of syllables in a word. By the end of my first grade year, I was reading at a level well above the average of today’s first-graders.

The rise of the problem

      Sadly, by the late 1980s the practice of using phonics as a way of teaching children how to read was slowly being phased out of most schools across the United States. Replacing it was a method sometimes referred to as “cueing”, a practice that taught children to use context clues such as pictures to guess words rather than sound them out. At that time, the belief was that by guessing words and memorizing those words, children would eventually build their vocabulary. However, this was not reading, and the result has been that children in the United States are more illiterate than ever.

An old "new" solution

      Today, after decades of research, many states are finally moving away from the flawed use of guessing and memorizing words as a way to teach reading. Taking its place is a new system called the Science of Reading that teaches children to read by learning the sounds of the letters in the alphabet. In other words, researchers are now suggesting the best way to teach reading is to teach phonics. What was old is now new again.

A personal observation

      When I became an educator in the public school system, one of the first things I learned was that the vast majority of students could not read at their grade level. Most students who struggled to read were, at their best, reading two to three years below their grade level, and falling behind further and further with each passing year. Some literacy teachers have even reported that having never been taught phonics, their rising ninth-graders are only reading at a third or fourth grade level.

      What is most heartbreaking about these facts, however, is not that children are unable to read. What is truly heartbreaking is that many of these children have been labeled as having a learning disability, because they were never taught the proper way to read. While learning disabilities do exist, I refuse to believe that a child, or even an adult, has a disability just because they have difficulty reading. Some kids may feel “stupid” or “damaged” because they have difficulty reading, their inability to read well is by no means indicative of their level of intelligence. Instead, their inability to read well is indicative of a flawed school system that has been failing our children for over forty years. This decades-long history of failure does not have to continue.

A viable solution

      I firmly believe that by teaching phonics, both children and adult learners can learn to read. Children who can read are given the chance to explore the world through the written word. The lens through which they see this world exposes them to possibilities and opportunities that are immeasurable. For adult learners, the ability to read often leads to a better education, a better job, and even an increase in self-respect and self-esteem. There is true joy in being able to read, and it’s never too late to learn.

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Reading

Adult Learners

Most children who struggle with reading are only a handful of lessons away from taking adventurous trips to to far away places through the written word. Quite often, all it takes is learning to recognize the letters in a word and knowing the sounds those letters make. This  phonetical approach to reading has been used since the 1800s, and has proven to be one of the most effective ways for children to discover the written word . If your child could use a little help getting their reading and writing skills up to grade level, please reach out to me and lets talk about  how together we can open or world of reading adventure. 

The Learning Lab is a business that strives to operate according to the  principles of the Bible.  This approach begins by recognizing that everything we do is a stewardship that has been entrusted to us by God. Our time, our talents, and our abilities come from our Heavenly Father. Therefore, we believe that the work we do should reflect Him, as taught to us by the living example of Jesus Christ. While this is our goal, we also recognize that The Learning Lab is an educational institution, and not a non-profit religious organization. As such, our job is to teach the skills of reading and writing.  

All too often, adults who don't know how to read and write are too embarrassed to reach out for help. The truth is that no matter how old a person may be, there is never a better time than now to learn this essential life skill. The Learning Lab is judgment-free way to achieve the dream of literacy where adult learners are treated like adults, not children. Bu teaching phonics, students are taught to aught to read using age appropriate material that will interest them. This material might include books, magazines, letters, or the Holy Bible. If this sounds like something that would help someone you love, please reach out to me. Opportunities are wide open for anyone who is willing to take that first step. 

To take the first step to reading success  
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