By RP Bhalla
According to a renowned academician: “Far too many American children are poor readers.” Sadly, what makes this such a bitter pill to swallow is that traditionally the American public school system has been widely acknowledged as one of the nation’s great assets when it comes to ensure quality education, which is so vital to any country’s success. And, it is not as if parents are unaware of the importance of a sound foundation for their children’s academic advancement.
Certainly, there is no denying that in some cases children from economically weaker sections of society, where there is little or no emphasis placed on quality education, are at risk of being poor readers. But it does not end there. There are a large number of children who have more than adequate exposure to a better quality of life, and learning, who encounter great problems in acquiring reading skills. And strange as it may seem, children who find it difficult to read proficiently will always struggle with other conventional forms of learning.
Eventually, overshadowed by their peers who read effortlessly, and progress consistently, these children become victims of their own sense of guilt and self-esteem. Not surprisingly, more than 1.2 million students drop out of school every year. And those who hang on, barely scrape through with little or no chance of ever making it to college.
In this state of despair, most aggrieved parents wonder: “Why is that our little one has to struggle so hard?” What they are unaware of is that reading proficiently is a recurring problem for 40% of all children. And if reading could come naturally to children, thankfully learning to read would become as easy as it is to learn to speak.
Many parents, who do not find the time to help their children, and leave it entirely to the school, end up with a great degree of disappointment. The sad thing is that most children who encounter reading problems are usually bright and hardworking. The fault often lies with the department of education. There is a perpetual shortage of well-qualified teachers and the method of teaching how to read leaves a child deficient in phonemic awareness. This, in turn makes it difficult for a child to understand or remember words.
Yet, it is not as if these problems are insurmountable. Usually, when parents make amends they mistakenly place a great emphasis on computer programs. These programs can engage or entertain a child but how well they impart knowledge to toddlers has yet to be established.
Children have the ability to read just as soon as they begin to speak clearly. If you want to bring up a child with an interest in learning and a fondness for books there are remarkably easy and systematic ways to teach your toddler to read. To develop these early skills you have to be both, parent and teacher. Remember, be it an alphabet, a word or a fairy tale, reading must start very early in every child’s life.
Most academicians are well aware of the problems 4-5 year olds face when they start school. Reading must be taught one small step at a time. That is why some of them have published manuals for parents to teach their child to read at home. These are so designed, that whatever their own level of literacy or training skills, parents can easily grasp sound training techniques that will benefit their children immensely, in just 15-20 minutes every day. Infact, after these teaching sessions, many parents have reported considerable improvement in their own knowledge of the English language.
President Obama would like to see all students graduate from high school prepared for college and a career no matter where they come from. According to him, it will be difficult and will require the skills, talents and dedication of many people. “But this effort is essential for our children and for our country:” he concludes.
After retiring as a senior captain with an international airline, R.P.Bhalla spent ten years in the study of Social Sciences and Health and Wellness. An expert in Aviation Medicine and a Wildlife Activist, he writes extensively on Family, Health and Money matters.
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