Children in third and fourth grades are struggling the most to recover in reading after the pandemic – We All Can Read

Recent studies indicate that children now in third and fourth grades are those students struggling the most to recover in reading after the pandemic. Not surprisingly Black and Hispanic third-and-fourth-grade students, as well as students from high-poverty schools have the most ground to cover on the road to academic recovery regarding their reading skills. Additional findings indicate that it could take as many five years for many of these students to catch up academically.

A five-year academic recovery period would represent an educational and personal disaster in the lives of these children. The first years in a young child’s life are by far the most pivotal ones in regards to the acquisition of foundation reading skills. Children who fall behind in reading in grades one and two often never catch up and in fact will tend to fall further and further behind as they continue through the middle and upper grades. Not only that but students in the early school years form a relationship around the activity of reading. Young students who are successful readers read more and enjoy the activity of reading. But the reverse is true as well. Young children who struggle in reading tend to form a very negative attitude towards the activity of reading. These students associate the act of reading with failing and personal shame. These core negative feelings and emotions around the activity of reading all too often remain with a person his entire life. Think of the implications of this fact.

Reading is the single most essential skill for one to master in order to be successful in life regardless as to how one defines success. There is so much uncertainty in all of our lives. The one thing that can be said with certainty is that being educationally well-prepared is the single most effective way one can best be ready for whatever lies ahead. Reading is the core skill that enables one to adjust and hopefully to thrive in whatever environment one encounters. Reading is everything. And we cannot allow these young students to drown through circumstances over which they have no control.

If I were a parent of a struggling young child, or a child of any age for that matter, I would stop everything else and provide them with an intensive remediation program that focuses upon science-based reading instruction. Nothing is more important for students behind in reading then to directly and intensively address that learning deficit. It is essential that students of any age must master the phonetic foundation of the English language in order to become successful readers and spellers as well. Once this goal is achieved, then all else is possible. But until this core skill of reading acquisition is achieved, everything else pales in significance. The ability to read fluently and effortlessly is everything. Reading is a core human right, and to deny children this core skill just as they are beginning their lives is a tragedy made all the more heartbreaking because it is a largely preventable one.

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