Understanding Reading in Children with Learning Disability
The article entitled, “Reading and Learning-Disabled Children: Understanding the Problem” by Don Martin, Magy Martin, and Kathleen Carvalho, has pointed out a controversy on what specific instructional method best fit to address children with learning disability, who are reading deficient. Though several methods for reading have been used, which include whole language, phonic study, direct, instruction, and guided reading, none has been a conclusive program to provide the all-out efficacy to address children’s reading difficulties. For sure, the varied level of reading disability requires specific level of instructional response, that most teachers might find difficult to implement– as a consequence, American classrooms have various rates of success. Furthermore, the fact that reading program efficacy is reliant to various factors, namely, phonemic awareness and decoding skills of students, fluency to place recognized words together, it is not clear whether most students are equipped as various researchers would suggest.
In addition, the inadequate information regarding studies on reading programs efficacy make difficult to decide on a reading program that best addresses the students’ individual needs. As said and I quote: “…effective reading program for students with learning disabilities must incorporate various strategies based on individual needs while concurrently implementing the fundamental techniques of the program to guide instruction.” Nonetheless, two reading instructional approaches might have their share of interest in increasing the level of reading adequacies of students. They are: whole language instruction, a child centered instructional format in which students learn to read and write through the use of completed texts such as novels and short stories; and direct instruction, which uses a teacher-centered approach through grouping students according to functional reading levels and teach specific skills on sequential basis that considers current abilities. Further, the need for an early, intensive and remedial instruction in reading is found out to have helped students increase students’ level of reading efficiency.
Researches on the other hand find out that emotions play a significant role in the development of reading skills in students. Emotions create the drive that optimizes disposition of students to learn how to read, otherwise it negates students’ interest in reading as self-esteem and worth are being doubted: cognition allows the understanding of words and their usage in context to illustrate a meaningful relevance of what has been read. Neurological learning factors as well affect the disposition of students in their reading disposition. Genetic influences reading tendencies as researchers have found out that reading learning acquisition is partially attributed to biological wiring and partially to life experiences. As a result, neurological factor renders most students with with underlying information-processing disability that interferes with their abilities to process the phonological aspects of language, limiting the success of various reading programs. As it should be, awareness of speech sounds plays an integral role in reading development.
Thus, the choice of what best instructional approach can be effective in maximizing the reading skills in students is always the ultimate question: whole language approach, or direct instruction. As defined earlier, each has its own definitive share on dealing with the reading difficulties. However, as to their actual effect in increasing students’ reading level might rest on how these approached is implemented and how they fit in to the type of learning style a student with reading difficulty has.
As to the psychological and social implications of reading inadequacies in students, it has been certain that a personal and social stigma might be evident, even to a worst self-depression. Fear and rejection as implications of not able to read may have society ostracize the concerns, to the extent that shame, frustration, and embarrassment often result. Hence, teachers of reading should thrive of a reading approach that will ultimately make the life of students with reading disabilities make a significant academic achievement and success in life.
Reading perhaps is what this world need for us to understand better what could have been written. My point is: reading makes possible learning opportunities. Through what has been understood in letters and their combinations thereof make the interpretation of what surrounds us simple and viable to our human understanding. Thus, inadequacies in reading can lead to sustain personal and social failure, as communications cannot effectuate relevant ideas. But how we must learn how to read? What best way is conclusive as a definitive approach to maximizing the learning of reading in students? Is there such a way? Would a combination may prove satisfying to the educational wonder of most researchers and educators in their interest in finding the holy grail of teaching reading?
The whole language approach, a literacy instructional philosophy which emphasizes that children should focus on meaning and moderates skill instruction (Answers.com, 2008), can be a better choice, owing to its student-centered format which will definitely address the students themselves. However, it has its fair share of criticisms. P. Laurita (2008) in her article, “The Whole Language Approach” has pointed out that structure is necessary, and that a child’s learning to read is too valuable to leave to chance and accidental discovery; children are not learning in the same way, thus adhering to one method only is dangerous and may leave some children behind. On the other hand, direct instruction includes the delivering large amounts of information in a timely manner. Also, because this model is teacher directed, it lends itself to designing instruction that is developmentally appropriate to pupils’ ages and stages (The Online Teacher Resource, 1998-2008).
In anyway, genetics still plays a big influence, I do believe. Exposure to the language as well is a significant player. Learning cannot be possible unless these two interplay to the interest and disposition of students. As a researcher would put it and I quote: “The learning of reading might have been limited due to the students’ capacity to fit themselves in as they are bound by limitations. This is more real in students with special needs, when they cannot compete with their regular peers. Teaching reading in the classroom is possible. But the question points out into the efficacy at which it can be maximized into the potentials of children. In itself, reading is happening— but what is desired is the quality of output. A satisfactory output can only be made if there is an efficient input on the part of the teacher.” Thus, even if students cooperate in the learning process, likewise teachers have their games to play. The teacher’s determination to win the students and strengthen their resolves to make better their learning potential is very much a necessity. Therefore, in the process of learning reading, all factors must be considered to make an effective reading learning experience.
Cromwell Artiaga, Ed.D.
Answers.com (2008). Definition of Whole Language Approach. Retrieved on September 21, 2008 from Answers Corporation Website
Laura, Paulita (2008). The Whole Language Approach. Retrieved on September 21, 2008 from Library Science Website
Technology.com (1998-2008). Definition of Direct Instruction. Retrieved on September 21, 2008 from The Online Teacher Resource Website