Kindergarteners who may be at risk for reading problems can receive preventive intervention in the new kindergarten class forming this fall at Greengate School in downtown Huntsville. School head Marcia Ramsey explains that the purpose of the program is to catch reading problems early in order to prevent more serious school difficulties later on. With intensive multi-sensory language instruction, research shows that many young children can avoid reading problems that lead to school failure in later grades. Mrs. Ramsey emphasized that early identification and effective instruction are the keys to helping kids close the reading gap. "The earlier we can catch these difficulties, the better. We know that children who are reading below grade level at nine years old will continue to read below grade level through high school and college. After a child is 9 years old, it is more difficult to close the reading and spelling gap." According to the Committee on the Prevention of Reading Difficulties in Young Children, "the majority of reading problems faced by today's adolescents and adults are the result of problems that might have been avoided or resolved in their early childhood years. It is imperative that steps be taken to ensure that children overcome these obstacles during the early primary years."
Parents and preschool teachers are often the first to notice the signs that can predict future reading problems. Some common signs of reading difficulties in preschool include:
- A family history of learning problems
- Delayed speech and/or language development
- Difficulty with rhyming
- Being slow to learn sounds and letters
- Shows little interest in learning to read, but enjoys being read to
- Shows little interest in learning to write, but enjoys drawing
- Strengths in thinking and reasoning
Kindergarten age children who exhibit these characteristics may benefit from having a low-cost screening test available from Greengate School by phoning 256-551-4439. The screening will assess the essential reading skills that should be mastered.