10 Red Flags to Watch for in Your Child’s Preschool
If you have a child who 10 Red Flags to Watch for in Your Child’s Preschool a struggling reader, your family is not alone. Learning to read is a challenge for almost 40 percent of kids, and an even bigger challenge for their parents.
Empowering Parents, a PBS special hosted by Al Roker, visits schools in Huntingtown, Maryland, and Portland, Oregon, to see how families learn to identify early signs of reading problems and find ideas for getting their kids the help and support they need to succeed at reading. About the program Al Roker of NBC’s The Today Show is the host of Empowering Parents, a primer for parents whose child is struggling to read. The 30-minute program is the sixth episode of the award-winning PBS series Launching Young Readers. Empowering Parents visits schools in Huntingtown, Maryland, and Portland, Oregon, to outline the warning signs that indicate a child may have difficulties and shows why early intervention is so important. Fighting for Your Child Jennifer Simpson is a mother on a mission.
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Unlike many parents who don’t realize when their child is behind the learning curve, Jennifer knows exactly where her daughter should be — and isn’t. Warning Signs Bryana was waving a red flag for reading problems at eight months old. That’s when her mother found out Bryana was hearing impaired. Understanding Your Child Special education expert Rick Lavoie shows parents why it’s important to take action.
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Parents sometimes worry that they’re overreacting when their child isn’t reading in first and second grade,” says Lavoie. It’s really not possible to overreact to that. Good Instruction Watch as the folks at Metzger Elementary in Portland, Oregon, help struggling students like J. Reading and the Brain Find out how the brain of a kid with reading problems, like Jonathan, handles reading differently than the brain of a strong reader. Reading advice from Al Roker Q: As a father of three, what’s your best reading advice for parents?
Find books that you enjoyed as a kid. Chances are they will enjoy them too. Q: Describe your family’s reading ritual. A: We read an ongoing chapter book to Leila and a simpler book to Nicky. Since their bedtimes are about an hour and a half apart, we take turns reading the stories. Q: Besides stories before bed, how do you encourage your own children to make reading a habit? A: We try reading street signs, cereal boxes and anything we can get our hands on.
A: Try and make it a game. And say, “Just one more word, and then I’ll do a word. Q: A friend tells you that their child has said, “Reading is stupid! What advice would you offer your friend? A: Tell the child, “Mommy and Daddy like reading and we don’t think it’s stupid.
Q: As adults, we understand that reading is important. As if you were speaking to a six-year-old, explain the importance of reading. A: Reading helps us meet cool people and go to neat places. Without reading we can’t figure out where we are or how to put things together. We need to be able to read to have fun and to do our best in school. Q: What are your top three favorite children’s books?
Q: Your son is likely still in the age group that still demands repetition. How do you handle the “read it again! A: We read it twice, maybe three times and then Daddy says, “That’s enough for now, let’s try another book. Q: Describe some of the media “tricks of the trade” that you use to make reading more interesting for your children. A: Making sound effects, using different voices, and asking them to say the words if it’s a story they know. Introduction: Empowering Parents Al Roker: Raising kids is a hard job, but does it have to be this hard?
Debbie Gaw: I said, “Tyler, what’s the matter? And he said, “Mom, I’m stupid. Al: For any parent, it’s heartbreaking to see your child struggle at school. Al: But not knowing how to help might be even worse.
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Jennifer Simpson: I should have been the one saying, “Hey, you need to do more for my son. You’re not giving him what he deserves. Most parents wait too long to get help. Julie Washington: If you have a child who is having trouble, early intervention is critical because children will be left behind. Al: We’ll show you how to identify some early signs of reading problems and we’ll offer ideas for getting your kids the help and support they need. Jennifer Young: Every kid’s gotta make it.
Whether it’s my kid or your kid, they gotta make it. Al: Empowering Parents, a Reading Rockets special, is funded by the United States Department of Education, Office of Special Education programs. By day, I’m a weatherman, but at night, I’m a big red dog, a star-belly sneetch, even Pippi Longstocking. In other words, I’m a dad.
And I love reading to my kids. I’d like to think they enjoy it, too. Al: But what happens when it comes time for children to learn to read for themselves? If reading comes easily, then the joy continues. But if it’s a struggle, reading can turn into a nightmare. Al: Today, we’ll look at what you can do to help the struggling reader in your life.
One day, the man down the hall called us. A mom and a dad listen to their daughter read. But this moment was a long time coming for Jennifer Simpson. Al: Emiliann is in the second grade, and she’s finally starting to enjoy reading.
Jennifer: The happiest moment of my life is watching Emiliann read to her sister or to me or her dad. Al: But the feeling is bittersweet. Jennifer struggled with Emiliann’s first school and even moved her family to a new district before she found what Emiliann needed. Al: And how did she know what to look for in a school? That’s the bittersweet part of the story. Keith: I don’t like reading at all. And I choose not to read anything.
Al: She’s been through this before — with her 19-year old son, Keith. Jennifer: When I put him in kindergarten, he still couldn’t learn his alphabet. Let’s put him in first grade and see what happens. And he repeated the first grade because he had such a difficult time even grasping what first grade was all about.
Al: Jennifer talked with Keith’s teachers, and — like a lot of parents — she thought the school would take care of him. Jennifer: I thought they were doing exactly, you know, what they told me they were going to do. Didn’t always happen, and wasn’t very smart in finding out that it wasn’t going on, ’cause you tend to trust your teachers and the vice principal and the people that, you know, you give your child to teach. Al: Keith never got the help he needed.
He finished high school, and he’s hoping to become a chef one day, but he’s never become a truly fluent reader. Jennifer: Is he embarrassed by it? Yes, ’cause he thinks he could’ve done something more. And it shouldn’t have been on him. I should’ve fought for him, and I didn’t know I could. Al: So when Jennifer noticed Emiliann having speech problems in preschool, she took action immediately.
I wasn’t gonna fail this one like I failed my first. Al: Jennifer Simpson was finally on the right track. While older readers like Keith can get help, one of the best things a parent can do is recognize signs of trouble early. Warning Signs Al: Bryana Hargrow was waving a red flag for reading problems at eight months old. That’s when her mother found out Bryanna was hearing impaired. Carlotta Gore: Bryana was born prematurely, so they took a hearing test at birth, and she passed the test. So, we did a follow-up when she was about eight or nine months, and that’s when I found out that she had a hearing loss.
Al: From the moment they’re born, our kids send us signals about how hard reading may be for them — in the way they speak, the way they listen, the way they respond to us. It’s our job as parents to watch for warning signs, like these. Julie Washington: Speech and hearing impairments are of critical concern when children are learning to read because, of course, we teach reading using sound. Al: Carlotta is meeting with Dr.
Julie Washington, a researcher at the University of Michigan. It’s gonna to be work for you. It’s gonna to be work for her, and it’s gonna to require the cooperation of a lot of professionals. Al: Carlotta got help for Bryana right away.
The decision was tough, but she decided that Bryana would have surgery to receive a cochlear hearing implant. Then, she took advantage of every available early learning opportunity — from Head Start to summer programs at the university. And she’s watched Bryana carefully for problems. Washington: There are a number of possible signs as a child is entering kindergarten that may signal that they’re gonna have some difficulty in reading: a child who comes to school with a poor vocabulary, who doesn’t really seem to comprehend directions, a child who can’t follow the classroom routine. A child who doesn’t seem to be able to interact with peers — those are all signs that a child may have difficulty. Al: If Bryana has difficulty learning her numbers, her letters, and her sounds — or with rhyming — Carlotta would be right to be concerned. Washington: Children who are having difficulty in kindergarten are very likely to still be having difficulty in third grade, so that indicators like being able to recognize all the letters of the alphabet is a strong predictor of reading ability.
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Al: As your child moves up in to first and second grade, there are some new things to watch for. Washington: You start seeing some trouble with some of those kids with remembering things that they’ve learned. And so every time we sit down, it seems like we’ve never done this before. That’s a real red flag that you have a child who is having difficulty learning, and that child almost a hundred percent of the time is gonna have trouble with reading. Al: Once your child’s class begins reading, watch carefully. Is your child in the lowest reading group?
Does he hate to read aloud? Does he struggle to sound out words? These are all signs that your child might have a real problem learning to read. Al: But how worried should a mom or a dad really be when their six- or seven-year-old is a little behind?
We don’t want parents to think that if your child is identified at nine or ten, that they’re doomed, because they’re not. There’s a lot that we can do at those ages, but the job of the professional, the parent, and the child is made easier by early intervention. Al: Once you’ve realized your child is struggling, it’s time to look for help. But sometimes that can be hard. Schools can be intimidating, even for parents. Understanding Your Child Rick Lavoie: This is a pair of what? Al: Rick Lavoie has worked with kids with reading problems for more than 30 years.
But today he’s working with their parents. In this exercise, they’re trying to read jumbled text. Leslie Bachman: That’s been on the floor. Rick: There’s no question mark on my page. Rick: Imagine how you’d feel if you had a job where you couldn’t do most of what you were asked to do, you didn’t particularly like the people you worked for, you didn’t particularly get along with the people you worked with, and you had to go and do that every day, six hours a day.
You’d be pretty unhappy by the end of the day, too. And kids go to school for a living, and this child is failing at his job. Rick: Parents sometimes worry that they’re overreacting when their child isn’t reading at first — in first or second grade. There’s really — it’s really not possible to overreact to that. It’s a fairly serious thing from the child’s point of view. And once they fall through the cracks, it’s really hard to get them back on the right track.
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Rick: You see a disproportionate number of kids with learning problems and reading problems in populations of kids with suicidal behavior, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, eating disorders, self-destructive behavior. So, if we don’t get on it and begin this process early, with early identification and early remediation when they get into school, that’s the price you pay later on down the line. Al: Of course, the situation is though for parents, as well. Rick: And parents go through this whole series of emotions that consist of things like anger and isolation and guilt and many of the same stages, frankly, that you go through when you’re dealing with a death. Al: Many days, just getting your child dressed and off to school can be overwhelming.
Debbie Gaw: He was very anxious one morning, and I said to him, he’s getting ready for school, putting on his coat, and I said, “Tyler, what’s the matter? So that’s when I really felt like, you know, “I have to do something for him. It just affects their whole life. Rick: The reality is you need to stand up for your child. He’s not old enough or capable at this point to advocate for himself. You do need to stand up. It is uncomfortable sometimes, but you’ve got a right to ask questions.
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You’ve got a right to receive those answers. And so I – my advice to parents is you need to sorta toughen up and recognize that your child needs you. Al: There’s one more thing you need to know before you step up to help your child, and that’s this: what exactly do you want for your child? What does good reading instruction actually look like? Darby: Let’s do the next letter. Draven, you gonna tell me the middle letter?
Al: We found one good example in Portland, Oregon. She’s a Kindergarten teacher here at Metzger Elementary. Darby: So we have “g,” “o,” “z. Al: Kindergarten is a critical time for developing early reading skills, sometimes by using nonsense words. Darby: If you change the last letter, how can you turn it into a real word? Al: One of the hard parts about teaching Kindergarten is that kids come in at all different levels. Metzger handles that by assessing each student on a regular basis.
Julie: The name of this letter is “q. Julie: What is the name of this letter? Al: Some kids are already at risk. Kids who don’t know their letters have trouble with rhyming or who may speak a language other than English.
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They get an extra dose of small group instruction everyday. Al: The instruction is very explicit. Retzlaff helps the kids break the 26-letter code of our alphabet by being very clear with them about what each letter looks and sounds like. Julie: And I’m gonna go left around the queen and way down her staff. Now you guys are gonna trace the letter “q. Al: So when you’re trying to figure out if a school is doing a good job, here are two questions to start with: one, do they assess all students regularly?