Some schools do an excellent job of teaching youngsters to read. Many other schools don't.Even in those schools that do an overall good job, some students fall through the cracks and don't learn to read by the end of the first or second grade.

Reading failure saps the child's self-confidence, makes reading a puzzling or terrifying experience and gives the child repeated evidence of being a failure.

Like thousands of others, your child may have come out of first grade believing that reading has to do with looking at pictures and memorizing words, or that it is a guessing game based on the first letter of the word or the context in which the word occurs. Children who fail to learn to read on schedule lack self-confidence, because they have learned that they are failures. They dislike "reading," and school.

Don't be eager to blame the teachers. Often it is the school districts who purchase unproven, untested, unsuccessful reading programs that the teachers are forced to use. Many of these programs unintentionally promote guessing. The children read from texts and stories that had predictable sentence patterns. The children who mislearned did what the books seem to call for. When they figured out the first part of a sentence "The boys wanted to go swimming so they . . . . ," the children knew that the last two words were "went swimming." And when the children said these words, the teacher told them that they were good "readers." Even though they weren't reading, they were guessing.

"In the public schools, nothing succeeds like failure."

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There is nothing wrong with the child who can't read by the end of first grade. But there is a lot wrong with the teaching that leads to this type of tragedy.

You can avoid these problems by arming your child with reading skills before going to school. This armor will guarantee that your child will excel, will have confidence, will like reading and will not associate school with failure.

Or if you plan to home-school your child, this armor will start the schooling on a good note. Your child will succeed and will associate schooling with FUN. Just as the success is good for your child, it will give you the confidence that you can teach the most difficult part of home-schooling—the beginning skills. When your child has reading skills, you have a lot of options of what to teach next.

Learning to read is not only an education problem, but a problem of health and welfare.
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (1998)
The greatest single predictor of various antisocial behaviors, use of drugs, teen pregnancy, crime, and school failure is failure to learn how to read. In 1998, the National Institute of Health and Human Development recognized not learning to read as not simply an educational problem but as a problem of health and welfare.

Success in learning to read is certainly not a cure-all for life and happiness, but it is an imperative for school success. As a rule: no reading, no bright academic future.

The flip side of the reading coin is that children who know how to read have many opportunities available to them that non-readers and poor readers do not have.

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