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Dr. Joanne Meier

Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne every week as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.

I bet she'll catch on by then

October 3, 2007

Rebecca commented on my last post:

How should the parent respond if the teacher says this: "Thank you for bringing this to my attention. Let's watch and see how she does through the holidays. I'm betting she'll catch on by then."

Great question, Rebecca. Thank you for commenting!

In some cases, that teacher might be right. The student might catch up and do just fine. In other cases, the teacher might be wrong, and a whole bunch of valuable time will have been lost.

Situations like this necessitate that parents have an understanding of the reading process and the risk factors for reading difficulty. If risk factors exist, I would be less likely (read NOT likely!) to wait to see if the child "catches on."

I'd probably ask the teacher if she's read Joe Torgesen's piece Catch Them Before They Fall. It's a great article that includes assumptions about reading, the elements of an effective program, and a lot of information about assessing the most critical skills. It's written mostly for educators, but parents can get a lot of important information from it, too.

So, what are the risk factors for reading difficulty? In Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children (1998), authors Catherine Snow, Susan Burns, and Peg Griffin spelled them out very clearly. The information can also be found here:

Child-based, including early language impairment and attention deficits;

Family-based, including a family history of difficulty, level of English language proficiency, verbal interaction within the home;

School-based, including lack of academic focus, uninterested principals, and poor use of instructional time.

As a parent, I don't want my kids to "catch on." I want more for them, and more from their teachers. Do you?

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"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." — Groucho Marx