Identifying the struggling children in reading and writing early on and providing extra support for them enables these children to be successful too.
In a typical class, about 20% of the children need extra help at some stage. This translates to about six children in a class of thirty, but in a poor socio-economic area the number of struggling children tends to be greater.
There are two main steps that need to be taken in order to help the struggling children in reading and writing succeed.
Step 1 – Identification of struggling children and their area of problem-
Even during the first two weeks of teaching with Phonics, a struggling child can be identified by the following signs –
(a) If he/she fails to learn the letter sound. This is an indication of poor visual memory.
(b) If a child fails to hear the word when he / she has said the sounds or when the teacher has said the sounds. This shows a sign of poor blending skill.
Further, struggling children tend to copy the more able children rather than developing the skills themselves. It is also important to identify what a struggling child knows and what still needs to be taught as in some cases a child faces problem in some particular sounds only.
Step 2 – Remedies for struggling children –
Children who are struggling need to receive extra intervention through a wide range of games and activities.
(a) These children should be provided with extra letter sound and blending lessons in which they can learn these skills better everyday on a regular basis..
(b) They should be taught the whole Phonics programme again, starting with the /s/ sound and five basic skills i.e., –
(i) Learning letter sound
(ii) Learning letter formation
(iii) Blending (for reading)
(iv) Identifying sounds in words (for writing)
(v) Tricky words (for reading and spelling)
(c) Parents need to be informed. They should be encouraged to support their children at home. This could be done by sending sounds at home for extra practice and parents should listen to these letters / sounds everyday to reinforce the skills learnt in class. (d) It is also important not only to focus on helping children to be able to read and write but also praise and encourage them so that they would be as successful as his/her peers.