Friday, December 1, 2023

What if your child struggles with a concept?


On 30.11.23 I read a tweet by The reading mum, Ph.D. @readingmumngr

If your child struggles with a concept, they have yet to understand it. Sometimes, they are not developmentally ready. Other times, you need to show them another way they can better learn that concept.

What has been your experience?

I replied as follows:

What if that kid is struggling with a concept that has been taught wrongly?

How can a child scaffold when the first scaffold is damaged?

I am only talking about decoding/reading.

I am from the audit field and started teaching to find out why kids were able to read in Malay but not in English. There is a Chinese saying - A journey of 1000 miles starts with the first step.

My question is - what if a kid's first step is to the East when he actually wants to go West?

Here is my explanation of my tweet.

I twitted the above for readers to think and ask questions.

Concepts can include theories, ideas, principles, conditions, phenomena, or processes.

A majority of the kids who are unable to read are struggling with letter sounds taught wrongly. They are taught consonants with extraneous sounds. These kids find it impossible to blend letters taught with extraneous sounds and they disengage from learning to read. When they are subsequently taught the correct pronunciation of the letter sounds they can read.

It would be better if all teachers teach the way consonants should be taught so that kids predisposed to shutting down when confused will not disengage from learning to read. In my blog post here I have the wrong and correct way of teaching the letter sounds.

Educators keep talking about scaffolding but a child will not be able to scaffold something learned currently to what has been taught wrongly. Just because many kids can read despite being taught consonants with extraneous sounds does not mean that all children will be able to figure out how to read. The approximately 30% of kids who are not reading proficiently are kids who have disengaged from learning to read.Read about the importance of scaffolding on my blog post here.

Educators like Tim Rasinski harp on morphology and comprehension but this may get readers to become better readers but they are not going to reduce the level of illiteracy.

Yes, the first step is important. If you want to go east the first step must be towards the east or a U-turn must be made soon after going in any other direction. This was explained by Thorndike as early as 1913 and yet many of our educators don’t appear to understand or refuse to accept Thorndike’s explanation because they have spent too much time promoting their wares. 

Please study the image above. Many children struggle and figure out how to read. We should look at those who surrender and prevent them from struggling from the onset.

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