We, as parents and educators, have a limited time to develop proficiency in reading for our children. Why? For a variety of reasons, not least of which is self-esteem. Children begin to compare themselves as early as preschool and kindergarten. My children entered kindergarten already knowing the alphabet. They could read a very limited number of words. They were considered slightly ahead of average. One of them had a classmate who could read Harry Potter with comprehension. You better believe that my kids found that intimidating, especially my younger son, who had a hard time reading when he was tired. The words would start to swim by the time he got home from school, and he would pull words from lines below the one he was trying to read. He got incredibly frustrated. I did a lot of extra work with him on the weekends, when his eyes were fresh. We also had him tested by a vision therapist and discovered that he needed prism glasses and vision therapy in order to see 3D. I could practically hear the clock ticking: would I be able to make this easy enough for him to master, so he considered himself smart, or wouldn't I?
"...millions of American children get to fourth grade without learning to read proficiently. And that puts them on the dropout track." According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, "Up until the end of third grade, most children are learning to read. Beginning in fourth grade, however, they are reading to learn, using their skills to gain more information in subjects such as math and science, to solve problems, to think critically about what they are learning, and to act upon and share that knowledge in the world around them. Up to half of the printed fourth-grade curriculum is incomprehensible to students who read below that grade level, according to the Children’s Reading Foundation. And three quarters of students who are poor readers in third grade will remain poor readers in high school, according to researchers at Yale University."
Many of our children who live in poverty have been traumatized. When traumatized, our primary reflexes either don't get mastered or get reactivated, making 3D vision impossible. Children of poverty are much more likely to have learning disabilities because of this. In an ideal world, kids like these could get their primary reflexes properly integrated, and get prism glasses to allow them to make the most of their innate intelligence. How? Through educational kinesiologies like Brain Gym, the Masgutova Method, Books Neural Therapy, brain training programs like Interactive Metronome, and treatment with vision therapists.
Again, the Annie E. Casey Foundation: "Analyses of data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) indicate that the United States will need 60% of its population to possess a post-secondary degree or credential by 2025 to remain globally competitive. Currently, 30% of all adult workers in the United States hold four-year degrees, an attainment rate second only to Norway. But if we look at the rate among the youngest adult workers—those workers on whom our future depends—the United States ranked sixth among OECD nations in 2006, behind Norway, the Netherlands, South Korea, Denmark, and Sweden. If we look at two-year degrees, the U.S. attainment rate for all workers is only average and has fallen over time. To achieve the OECD goal for workers with post-secondary degrees, the United States will need to produce 16 million more graduates above the current rate of production.” That cannot happen unless we increase the number of high school graduates. And that requires significantly more children getting on track to graduation by reading proficiently by the end of third grade."
But the bottom line is: do children feel competent at reading, or do they feel incapable? How they feel about reading is a deciding factor in what they dream for themselves, if they believe in themselves, or whether they give up on themselves, and opt out of school at the earliest opportunity. As Maya Angelou almost said, "children may forget what you said, maybe forget what you did, but they'll never forget how you made them feel." As a parent or as an educator, how do you make your children feel?
I got lucky with my younger son. I caught him in time, and he ended up graduating high school as a National Merit Finalist. His brother did just as well, and made it into a university rated in the top twenty in the world. My secret? Making sure they felt like winners at school, and backing it up with integrating primary reflexes, vision therapy, educational kinesiology, and Interactive Metronome.