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Apr 152013

A Web Site Review: Children of the Code

Parents of struggling readers in Williamsburg can take heart as they learn how to help their child “break the code” and find reading success!  The website Children of the Code names proficiency in reading as “the gateway skill”, as most other learning is derived from it. Experts agree that illiteracy is the “national disability”. Chapter 1 of the documentary video series on the website documents the high rate of illiteracy among adults and reading difficulty in school children. Students’ future reading proficiency may be predicted from emergent reading ability (or lack thereof) in first graders, when there is still the chance to offer effective intervention!!

Chapter 2 names causes and contributing factors, including early influences on the child, the shift of “social media” from print to visual contexts, lack of effective reading instruction, and resistance of educational establishment at all levels to evaluate practice and change methods. Early influences may include genetic factors, parental illiteracy, and inequality of preschool opportunities.  A family’s economic circumstances and the proliferation of visual and technological media compound the difficulties of many children.  Instruction may not follow evidence-based methods; this is a primary cause of reading difficulty at all levels.  English language learners experience particular difficulties due to lack of data on best practices for teaching them to read.  Finally, many inconsistencies exist in English language, which itself is characterized by experts in the fields of education and language as “a mess”, “a monster”, an “arbitrary exercise” in reading that has “nothing natural about it at all”, and rife with “design errors”.

Most insightful and touching to me in this chapter were the testimonials of students of all ages describing their struggles, feelings of helplessness, and sincere desire to become better readers.  Their eyes bespeak much pain and confusion, as well as intelligence.  The encouraging news is that reading disability is NOT due to a lack of intelligence in the vast majority of cases, and is treatable!!

Stay tuned for a review of Chapter 3: ways to foster reading readiness and discovery in young learners!

Leslie Letchworth, PCETLeslie Blog