IntroductionAccording to the text (Jennings, Caldwell, & Lerner, 2014), reading is a skill composed of multiple subcomponents including word recognition, fluency, and comprehension When considering the teaching of reading, it is therefore important to focus on all of these concepts within the developmental environment of the child.
Factors Associated with Reading Disorders
Multiple factors interact and lead to the development of a reading disorder, as outlined by Jennings and colleagues (2014). First, cognitive factors play a role, and research has found a link between children who have deficits in working memory abilities (the ability to hold information “online” in order to attend to it/make sense of it) and a diagnosis of specific learning disorders (Morris et al., 2012; Schucardt, Maehler, & Hasselhorn, 2008). To help this, a teacher may use working memory tasks or games (Dingfelder, 2005), or use assignments that are presented orally (and are thus using working memory).
Second, environmental factors also play a role in the development of specific learning disorders such as a reading disorder. In particular, the environment in which the child is raised during the first 5 to 6 years of life can be strongly associated with reading disorder outcomes. To target this, a teacher may advocate for early intervention programs or send children home with books and prizes for reading at home.
Third, the school environment also plays a role in reading abilities. In fact, students who have difficulty with reading do not spend as much time reading as do other students. This can be a problem as those who have reading problems tend to have poorer relationships with teachers, and this can negatively affect the quality of teaching that the teacher offers the student. A teacher may intervene by breaking groups up by reading level, or by encouraging students to “mentor” poorer readers.
Fourth, the social and cultural environment in which a child is raised plays a large role in the child’s reading abilities. Specifically, because children who have reading problems tend to also have social difficulties, this can lead to low self-esteem and possibly a low regard for school in general. Furthermore, children who grow up in a financially impoverished cultural group are also at a disadvantage since poverty has been linked to learning disabilities and behavioral/emotional problems. To target this, a teacher may send books home, or he or she may encourage a “mentor” system.
Fifth, emotional factors often overlap with reading disabilities, and emotional problems tend to increase as children move from elementary school to adolescence. For instance, if a child has a reading disability, and is subsequently mocked by his or her peers to the point of isolation, it is plausible that depressive symptoms, combined with a reading disorder could place this child at a high risk for academic failure. To target this, teachers should be aware of what childhood depression looks like, and teachers should send parents information on emotional problems and resources.
Sixth, intelligence plays a role in the diagnosis of a reading disability. For instance, it is common practice to diagnose a reading disability if there is a substantial discrepancy between an individual’s full scale intelligence quotient (IQ) and their measured academic achievement abilities. To intervene, teachers should advocate for early intervention and reading programs.
Finally, a child’s reading difficulties may be related to physical difficulties such as poor vision or poor hearing. To intervene, the teacher should make sure all children are screened for hearing and vision each year. Moreover, a teacher may wish to advocate for having these done regularly at school.
In conclusion, there are many factors that interact to either help, or hinder, reading. In terms of teacher interventions for the areas, it would be important to promote a healthy school environment, with interventions that could be taken home, if possible. Overall, this project made me begin to consider the effects of the entire school, home, and social systems on child development.
- Dingfelder, S.F. (2005). A workout for working memory. APA Monitor, 36 (8), 48.
- Jennings, J.H., Caldwell, J.S., & Lerner, J.W. (2014). Reading problems: Assessment and teaching strategies (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.
- Morris, R., Lovett, M., Wolf, M., Sevci, R., Steinbach, R., Fritters, J., & Shapiro, M. (2012). Multiple component remediation for developmental reading disabilities: IQ, socioeconomic status, and race as factors in remedial outcome. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 452, 99-127.
- Schuchardt, K., Maehler, C., & Hasselhorn, M. (2008). Working memory deficits in children with specific learning disorders. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 41(6), 514-523.