Remedial Reading

GOOD NEWS FOR ANXIOUS PARENTS – Learner support with oemf!


Many concerned parents drop their learners, throughout the year, at SmartBrain’s gates.

Teacher Celia with two bright students.

Teacher Celia with two bright students.

“I am looking for help,” many mothers anxiously plea. “I’m fed up”  “I have heard everything and I have tried everything.”  “My child’s poor reading ability influences her whole personality.”  “The teacher says that my child is unable to concentrate in class, that her schoolwork is untidy and that she can’t complete work in the given time and none of her projects are completed successfully.” “Furthermore she copies information incorrectly from the black board and sometimes nothing at all.” “Can you please help my child? My child does not want to go to school anymore!”

The upset parent goes further and says, “Why didn’t the teacher already inform me in the child’s foundation phase that there’s something wrong? The volume of work in Grade 4 is just too much and she struggles to complete her homework every week. I have gone so far as taking her for eye tests and after a year of occupational therapy she is also now on medication.  Still the reading problem prevails! “She turns her letters around, pronounces the words incorrectly or she adds words to the sentence which do not even exist. Nothing makes sense once she has read a sentence.”

Scientists concur that if we want to save our children from this chaos, we have to approach reading in a more scientific way. Too many children struggle unnecessarily because of illiteracy. This can be seen against the statistics that a great number of unfortunate learners have to leave school before Grade 10.

It is incredible how a child struggles with learning subjects if they are not proficient with reading.  It hinders them from studying, has a direct influence on their creative writing ability and they normally lack comprehending their work. Low self-esteem, attention deficit disorders and clowning are normally the result of such an unorganized or poorly stimulated brain. Scientifically it means that the neuro-network for that specific skill has not been successfully programmed in the brain.  There are gaps and when a child falls behind, they never catch up again, unless they fortunately land up at a learner support centre that specialises in reading and where they are willing to go back to the level where the child started to struggle. This means that even though a child might be in Grade 4 or older, the remedial facilitator has to go back and do Grade 1 work again. Somebody has to assess the learner to see where the gaps are in order to determine where to start with remediation. The same of course counts for maths, art, music and for each and every other discipline under the sun.

Brand van Dyk, director of training of the national SmartBrain learner support centres, where dyslexia, and reading related problems are addressed and solved on a daily basis, stresses the fact that one should approach reading in a more scientific way. He quotes language scientists such as Barbara Foorman and Rudolf Flesch who confirmed that a direct, systematic phonic teaching approach is incredibly important. According to them the learner has to, first of all,  master the alphabet code, where learners have to sound out, hear, write and say these individual sound before they move on to words and sentences. It is too commonly expected of Grade R learners to write their names before they were introduced to the proper letter formation of the initial code. These learners began their lives on the wrong foot!  It is of the utmost importance that the alphabetical code should be mastered on a Grade RR and Grade R level. According to Mr. Van Dyk this is the most powerful weapon against illiteracy.

A reading problem is in fact the inability to grasp that the “eigh” letters should sound “a” as in sleigh.  When learners understand the code, they can practise the code and become excellent readers.  Accuracy and speed are very important.  Only once the decoding of vowels, consonants, consonant- and vowel blends have been fully mastered, can the learner be allowed to focus on understanding and creative writing.

The advantages of a good phonetic foundation are obvious.  Because of their excellent reading ability, learning is never a problem and approached with confidence and fun. Homework can be done faster and there is more time for sport and other fun activities. The “problem” child is in most cases not the child who can read well, but the one who lacks neuro-programming at a young age. It is difficult to concentrate on something which was not repeated enough and therefore difficult to keep up with the pace. This leads to short tempers and a dislike of reading.

A good beginning cannot be underestimated!

Numerous people believe that a learning problem will just disappear as time passes, but the statistics prove otherwise. More than 80% of learners who struggled in Grade 3 struggle even more in Grade 6 and it stays with them for the rest of their lives.  It is for that reason that support in reading, writing, spelling, understanding and learning is very important. It is never too late to ask for help, because every day you delay, the problem becomes increasingly more difficult to remediate. If you are unsure, bring your child for a free assessment!

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