The problem, or rather, the misconception is that just because a student seems to start out learning to read with flying colors does not mean that he/she is mastering the reading code. All appearances show that he/she is understanding the code, but what is really happening is that he/she is just memorizing the words, and is totally confused about how the system works.
On a lower reading level, when a student is only expected to read a limited number of words, he/she can perform with what appears to be skill. But when the number of words that are expected to be read exceeds a certain point, Johnny or Jane can’t keep up, and his/her reading falls apart. This is very common, many children fall into this trap. As time goes on their reading becomes worse, because the bad habits they are internalizing become entrenched.
Then the child becomes frustrated, and begins to act out, or becomes easily distracted. At this point, the child gets a label placed on him or her, something like BD (behavior disordered) LD (learning disabled) or ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder). Educators are quick to say that the child is disabled, rather than the curriculum.
There is so much ms-conception about the process of learning to read that it is a wonder that anyone learns at all. Most teachers don’t know how to teach kids to read. If you asked them how many sounds there are in the English language they would tell you 26, because there are 26 letters of the alphabet. They don’t know that there are 45 sounds.
There are a host of other things that teachers and parents believe about teaching a child to read that are wrong, and most of them are teaching children incorrectly. They tell children to sound out words, or to memorize phonics rules, not realizing that they are making it more difficult for them to learn to read. They are teaching things that confuse them, while at the same time, they aren’t teaching anything about how the alphabet code works.
The truth is, phonics rules only apply to the English language 40% of the time. Remember that there are only 26 letters, yet there are 45 sounds. Children are commonly taught phonics rules that confuse them. For example, when they’re told that when two vowels go walking, the first does the talking, what are they supposed to do with words like touch, out, ought, instead, etc. If they followed the rule they would read the words wrong. Yet teachers and parents teach things like this to children every day. Is it any wonder that so many children are way behind the level that they should be reading on?
See our other articles on the Important Information page to read about the solutions to these problems.