Two-Week Reading Remediation Success
feel a lot of pressure to help my second-grader get better and faster at
reading, and in a hurry. We can't wait until third grade, or later! We need
help now, and we need it fast.
Children who struggle with reading
can make dramatic progress in just two weeks when they are given traditional,
phonics-based lessons, according to a report from the think tank, Civitas. The
findings suggest that it would be wise to hold summer "boot camps" giving young
readers supplementary lessons in traditional phonics-based reading instruction
to bring them up to speed.
The study showed that primary school pupils in Great Britain
increased their reading ages by nearly two years in as many weeks when they
were given intensive "synthetic phonics" lessons. (That's the Brits'
term for systematic, intensive, explicit phonics instruction.)
The back-to-basics method involves teaching the letter
sounds of English and how to blend them together to work out unfamiliar words. Civitas
said phonics had the potential to end what it called the "apartheid"
between the educational haves and have-nots.
It said thousands of children had been consigned to the
educational scrapheap by the failed reading schemes promoted in schools over
the past decade.
Synthetic phonics was made compulsory in British schools
when results from Scotland showed that it can transform literacy standards.
For the research, Civitas held a summer "supplementary
school" with the help of charitable donations. Its pupils were 15 children
between six and eight, all from disadvantaged areas. Many had already fallen
behind in their reading. The youngsters were given intensive lessons in
synthetic phonics for two weeks. The average improvement in reading age was one
year and nine months.
The Civitas report said the technique should also be used
with older children who are slow readers. Anastasia de Waal, head of family and
education at Civitas, said: "Teaching children to read via synthetic
phonics can bridge the gap between those from disadvantaged and advantaged
homes like no other method."
Her report goes on to say: "Weak reading lies at the
heart of the educational apartheid between the advantaged and the
disadvantaged, and of England's low social mobility.
"The inability to read properly is the single greatest
handicap to progress in school and adult life.
"Poor achievement, related poor behaviour in secondary
schools and the vast increase in the number of young people not in education,
employment or training connect directly to poor literacy teaching at primary
See the Civitas website, www.civitas.org.uk
and note their supplementary schools for after-school and weekend sessions: http://www.supplementaryschools.net/