Teaching struggling readers in the classroom

Effective help for struggling readers can be provided by classroom teachers within normal lessons, with the help of a skilled literacy coach. Lynne Vernon-Feagans and Marnie Ginsberg describe how

CHILDREN IN OUR SOCIETY ARE REQUIRED to read well in early primary school. Those who don’t learn to read well in these early years usually face a school trajectory of failure that includes poorer overall learning and poorer self-esteem, as well as a greater chance of severe behavioural problems. These negative consequences of poor early reading happen to many struggling readers, despite the fact that these children started school ready and eager to learn. As a society, we owe all struggling readers the best possible schooling opportunities and a fast start in developing literacy. Yet, despite policy makers and educators endorsing the need for better early literacy teaching for struggling readers, the attainment of the lowest achieving children has not improved over the last few decades.

What we know
● Reading failure can lead to a trajectory of failure in school, and social and emotional difficulties.
● Research suggests that classroom teachers may be the most effective professional to help struggling readers.
● Support for struggling readers should focus on individual needs.
● Teachers, and therefore struggling readers, benefit from literacy coaches.

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November 2011