“There is no such thing as a leap into literacy.” (David Petersen)
All things are eventual, or as one may say great things come about gradually. Perfecting takes time. Teaching a kid to read aloud smoothly is a process that takes considerable time and patience.
“A long-awaited federal study finds that an estimated 32 million adults in the USA — about one in seven — are saddled with such low literacy skills that it would be tough for them to read anything more challenging than a children’s picture book or to understand a medication’s side effects listed on a pill bottle” (USA Today)
What is to be done about such a malady?
Kids must be taught to read early. Fluency must be pursued relentlessly.
“Fluent readers read aloud effortlessly and with expression. Their reading sounds natural, as if they are speaking.
Teaching a child to read fluently begins with building self-esteem and assurance in his or her abilities. “There is a correlation between the self-esteem of students and their reading ability, reading level, and academic achievement” (Reading Skills Pyramid)
Unbelievably, correcting the problem begins with reviving hope, establishing security, and re-awakening of self-esteem,
“Students with low self-esteem tend to have lower reading abilities because they do not feel confident enough to take risks in their reading. They are not confident enough in themselves or their ability to try new genres, authors, or types of reading materials.
How can this be done?
Begin by working one-on-one with the student, as such an environment provides security for the student.
When students feel greater sense of self-security they are apt to take more risks and less likely to cover up inadequacies, a key to improving literacy. For one to learn to read more fluently he or she must feel comfortable making mistakes and not fear correction or view correction as a person assault.
During one on one instruction the instructor must patiently urge the child to read, it is only then that that the instructor can access where the problem lies.
As the instructor observes he or she must wait as the child struggles through the text. Praising the good points is necessary, but asking the student to reflect on his or her observances is also imperative.
“Students who read and reread passages orally as they receive guidance and/or feedback become better readers. Repeated oral reading substantially improves word recognition, speed, and accuracy as well as fluency” (Reading Skills Pyramid).
This must be done continuously and the reader must be exposed to the same material over and over again until he or she can read the material fluently whether it be a sentence, paragraph, page or entire book.
“Fluency develops gradually over considerable time and through substantial practice.”
Once weaknesses have been disclosed the foundational work can begin. If the child has difficulty with word forms or annunciations use flash cards and develop word family trees to assist. Help the reader to understand that many words have relatives and are equally related to other words thus drawing parallels between word families and real families. Persistently make this point and allow the student to practice without frustration; thereby allowing the child to effectively form associations.
“More fluent readers focus their attention on making connections among the ideas in a text and between these ideas and their background knowledge. Therefore, they are able to focus on comprehension.”
Never subject a student to an invasive situation. Gradually bring others into his or her circle. Give the reader control while giving them hope. Continuously remind the student that anything is possible when effort and belief, but things take time to develop. It helps to tell the student that he or she can read on the level of others with a little help and provide examples. Time will reveal growth and accomplishment
Growth occurs when the student can see how the end goals benefit him or her and not the instructor. To be pushed to finish a task is one thing but to be compelled to learn is another thing entirely. When the child recognizes the pattern in the future he or she will recall this.
Allow the student to set a literary goal and choose the path in which they are to take to reach this goal. The instructor is simply there to offer suggestions and to aid in the process. Once the student has comfortably navigated a book and has met his or her first goal; involve more people. Preparing and providing and audience gives the student extra encouragement and drives them a little further.
Reward persistence and offer examples of accomplishments that took time to achieve.