The Tragedy of Reading Difficulty

by Elaine Jenkins

Most reading problems are not the result of low IQ, but unless resolved, poor reading skills lead to poor cognition, and as a result, IQ begins to drop.

The child who struggles with reading, if this problem is not dealt with and resolved quickly, it will lead to a downward spiral. The child who struggles with reading, will avoid it, and therefore practices less. With less practice, their skills don’t develop like a normal reader. Because of less practice, they have less exposure to vocabulary words. A skilled reader may read more in one day than a struggling reader reads in a whole year. A proficient reader is exposed to many vocabulary words in varied contexts.

Vocabulary is not just about about definitions. It is a critical cognitive tool that is used to help us think. Vocabulary enables us to grab hold of the world and eximine it. Vocabulary is a place holder for ideas, and ideas shape thinking. Writing is a way to place hold ideas, to hypothesize about those ideas, and place hold them, which stimulates new ideas, andl helps us to examining the relationships of these ideas, and investigate further possibilities.

Vocabulary is the link of how reading difficulty leads to the detrimental affects on cognition. Educators who work with children with reading difficulties start seeing their IQ dropping away at an early age. The frustration of a struggling reader starts out small, and increases to a greater and greater intensity as more time passes, and eventually most of them give up. According to the research, most children who don’t catch up by the 4th grade never do catch up. Fourth grade is a critical age the separates most of those who will struggle for the rest of their educational experience because of poor literacy skills. In fact, most of these students have already given up.

The danger that poor readers face every year, every month, and every day that passes is that the risks are increasing. With each month and day that passes, the gap between good readers and poor readers gets wider and wider, and it becomes more and more difficult for them to catch up with their peers.

Keith Stanovitch, a world renown researcher calls this downward spiral the Matthew Effect, named after Matthew 25 verse 27: For unto everyone who has, to him shall be given, and he shall have an abundance. But from him who has not shall be taken away even that which he has.

Learning to read is a challenge for about 40 percent of kids. If they receive help early, most reading problems can be prevented with proper instructon. The problem is that often parents wait a year or more before they get help. Unfortunately, this can be a tragedy for the child. The older a child is the more rapidly rhe window of opportunity closes, for eliminating reading difficulties. And the effects of falling behind and feeling like a failure can be devastating.


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