Teaching struggling readers foundational reading skills

Struggling readers need support that combines the teaching of specific skills and strategies with building motivation for reading and learning, say Maureen Lovett, Karen Steinbach, Maria De Palma, and Meredith Temple

MOST CHILDREN WHO STRUGGLE to learn to read do not outgrow their reading difficulties. When not identified and tackled early, the gap widens with every year between those who can and cannot read well. In the past two decades, more and more good quality research has been published, examining what works for children and adolescents with reading difficulties. General principles of effective remediation for struggling readers can now be identified. Our own research group has contributed to this progress.

What we know
Effective remediation for struggling readers should:
● Target phonological difficulties and increase children’s awareness of, and ability to work with, individual sounds both orally and in print.
● Combine strategy instruction and teaching of the pre-skills needed to use each strategy effectively.
● Explicitly teach struggling readers how and when to apply and use newly acquired reading skills, and practice application to unfamiliar materials.
● Retrain misguided beliefs and attitudes about effort and achievement, and build perceptions of self-efficacy around reading and learning.

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November 2011