I had a degree in elementary education before having children. I used to teach kindergarten. Most of the children in my kindergarten class learned to read. Everybody was impressed by this. Even me. I didn't realize that there was a big problem with my teacher education.
I thought that I knew how to teach reading.
When I quit my job to stay home with my own children, I intended to teach my own children to read.
It was one of the things that I most looked forward to. I knew that it would be fun for us both. I believed that it would go smoothly because I knew what to do.
I did all the things that I had told parents they should do it ensure that their children would become good readers.
I read out loud to my children – a lot.
(I had been teaching kindergarten during my pregnancy. I always read books out loud to my class after lunchtime so I was also reading to my baby even before it was born. )
After my children were born I talked to them all day long. I explained things to them and took them places.
For example, if we were at the parade I did not just watch the parade with my 3-year-old in silence. I leaned down close to their ears and they heard a running commentary. They learned about the band instruments and the clowns and the baton throwers....
I took them to the library every week for children’s story time.
I asked my parents for a membership to the children’s museum for my child’s birthday.
I did not try to fit children into my life.
They were my life.
I had waited all my life for the chance to be a stay-at-home mommy and it was my dream job.
I spent all my time teaching and playing and doing fun activities with my children and loved it.
I was completely caught off guard when my first child did not pick up on reading easily.
She loved books and would sit on my lap listening to stories for a long time every day.
But reading for herself was just not happening.
I was homeschooling and using the same phonics books that I had used with my kindergarten class. I was teaching "the letter of the week" as I had done in kindergarten. But she wasn't remembering the letters. And once she did know the letters she could not blend their sounds into words.
At first, I thought she wasn’t ready yet and I needed to be patient.
But as time went on nothing changed. The struggle continued. It did not get easier.
I had her eyes checked.
I wondered about auditory processing issues.
I found someone to do standardized testing orally.
Finally, I paid a lot of money to have her tested for dyslexia.
There was no question. She was very dyslexic.
Many people worry about putting a label on children but I think it is so important and so helpful.
Now we knew what the problem was.
Now we could research and find out more about this problem.
Now we could learn how to work constructively to solve the problem.
I believe we need to #saydyslexia.
Name the problem in order to know how to address the problem.
I began studying and learning about dyslexia.
I read Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz.
I went to the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) website and began reading.
I learned about Orton-Gillingham and began taking some classes.
I started attending Reading in the Rockies, The annual convention of the local Branch of the (IDA).
I was learning so much.
The more I learned the more I knew that I didn't know.
Why had I not learned anything at all about dyslexia in my teacher preparation program?
I had a degree in elementary education!
Don’t you think the most important thing I would have learned is how to teach reading?
I mean how to teach reading to a child that doesn't find it easy.
But I had not.
I had learned ideas about how to make children love books.
I had learned about children’s literature and the wonderful books that were available.
I had been given ideas about activities we could do in our classrooms around books we read together.
... ... ... ...
But what if a child did love all those things but still wasn’t successful at becoming a reader on their own? That was the missing piece.
What to do with that child that wanted to read, was motivated and trying but not successful.
It was as if wanting to read and being interested in books was all that was needed the rest would come naturally.
But this turned out to be far from the truth.
At first, I thought that I had somehow missed out on this information that other teachers knew. But as I talked to the other teachers at the Reading In the Rockies convention I heard the same story over and over.
They had been in the same boat as me.
They also had not known how to teach reading.
They also didn’t know about the science of reading.
They also had graduated with teaching degrees and didn’t know how to teach reading.
I was amazed.
As time went on I began to realize that this wasn’t just a problem that I had it was a problem most teachers had.
It was a problem in America.
Eventually, I learned about Emily Hanford.
She has been reporting about this with APM reports, for the last 2 decades.
Emily has produced 3 audio documentaries about this very subject.
Reading. And how many children are not getting the help they need in school... And how many teachers don’t know about the best ways to help children that have dyslexia.
Even special education teachers and literacy specialists often don’t have the education they need to help children who find reading difficult.
I determined that I wanted to learn everything I could about the best ways to teach reading.
Next month in my blog I plan to tell a little more about the Academic Language Therapy Association (ALTA)and why I chose this program for my Masters of Arts in Teaching: Literacy Specialist degree.
If you would like to be notified when the next blog comes out click this link and you will get my list of 22 ways to help your child become a better reader and also be put on the list to be notified whenever a new blog comes out.