Philadelphia Daily News - 6/25/90

There Is A Way To Teach Children How To Read - GUEST OPINION

One percent of children with severe learning disabilities have dyslexia, a medical condition that affects children's ability to read. Dyslexic children have neurological dysfunctions that manifest themselves as symptoms of hyperactivity (inability to concentrate) strephosymbolia (reading letters and numerals backward).

Barbara A. Jackson

The cause of dyslexia is still unknown, but doctors blame brain damage and other organic dysfunctions for the ailment.

However, there are far too many normal children exhibiting symptoms of dyslexia that are not the result of chemical and physical abnormalities. Some 30 percent to 50 percent of youngsters in our nation's schools are suffering from an inability to read. Many children are so severely handicapped that they can’t read street signs, want ads, job applications, labels on medical bottles or safety signs.

Statistics show that a reading disorder can affect a child's entire life. Often children who cannot read grow up to be disadvantaged adults. Three –fourth of juvenile offenders and almost all school dropouts have serious reading deficiencies. Reading disabilities can lead to poverty and mental depression.

If dyslexia affects such a small percentage of children, what accounts for the majority of disabled readers have normal physical and mental abilities but suffer psychologically from not being able to read.

According to studies, psychological learning blocks are caused from teaching children to read words by sight before they fully understand that words are composed of letters and that letters stand for sounds.

Learning words by sight does not teach children to sound out words. Children are expected to figure out the alphabetical system on their own. This entails memorizing hundreds of words before being able to discover for themselves that words have patterns.

Memorizing seemingly endless numbers of words by sight recognition can cause children to become frustrated, bored and apathetic. Eventually, they give up. The sight method does not challenge learning.

Some of the symptoms common to having psychological learning blocks are reading letters backward (“b” for “d”), reading words backward (“was” for “saw”), confusing words having similar configurations (“said” for “and”), guessing )”quick” for “quiet”), and hyperactivity.

Yet, for most children, reading disabilities can be cured and even prevented by teaching children to read with phonics, a system that transposes letters into speech sounds. The 26 letters are assigned the power to represent approximately 44 voice sounds used to speak the English language. Once children learn that letters are symbols that represent sounds, reading becomes understandable and automatic, much like learning to walk, talk and tie shoes.

Phonics is a natural way to learn how to read. The alphabet is the phonetic foundation of our language, a key to unlocking and deciphering words through syllabication, pronunciation and spelling. Therefore, it is only logical to learn how to blend the 26 letters, or atoms, so to speak, into all possible combinations of sounds that are peculiar to our language.

Whether a reading disorder is neurological or psychological, its only cure is phonics.

Barbara A. Jackson is a retired 1 st grade teacher author and learning therapist/tutor. Readers are welcomed to submit proposed “Guest Opinion” columns to Editorial Dept., Daily News, 400 N. Broad St., Phila., Pa. 19101.


Scoop USA - 11/5/82

Parents CAN Teach Reading

More parents would help their children learn to read if they knew how. Certainly, all parents realize the importance of reading. Teaching a child to read can be enjoyable and rewarding for both parent and child. However, what's necessary is choosing an effective method that is simple to teach and easy for the child to learn.

The two basic methods for teaching reading are phonics and sight-word. Only phonics, though, teaches reading using a logical approach. With phonics, children learn to blend letter sounds into words. By sounding out words, children understand that the English language is systematic. Reasoning and thinking rationally are incidental benefits along with learning to spell, speak and write. Phonics teaches children to become independent readers.

On the other hand, sight-word uses a very different approach. It teaches whole words without any definite rules. The names and sounds of the letters are taught primarily as a means of identifying how words begin and end, but this is not true phonics. Children are never shown how to sound out the letters that fall in between. Therefore, children adopt the idea that words are made up of various combinations of letters solely to make words look different rather than letters representing the sounds. This encourages children to guess when they meet unfamiliar words. The sight­words are common words that appear frequently in newspapers, magazines, advertisements, and fictional materials—“is, what, house, street, etc.” The reading vocabulary is unnecessarily restricted. Sight-word is hard to learn because children are expected to figure out the English system on their own. Many children never reach this stage before boredom sets in and interest is lost. Parents find sight-word difficult to teach since the word patterns don't follow any sequential order.

Once parents know they can teach reading using phonics, they need only to find a book or instructional aids to guide them. Phonics makes sense, so let's spread the word!

Magic Sounds can be seen at Webb's Dept. Store 2152 Ridge Ave. 215 765-9187.

By: Barbara A. Jackson, author of "Magic Sounds"

The Philadelphia Tribune

Reading Is Order With Magic Sounds

By Flanzie Thomas (Tribune Education Writer)

An inexpensive way for your child to begin reading is with the program of "Magic Sounds." A kit comprised of an instruction book, reading booklet, cards and an activity center word-building space, all contained in a loose leaf binder that simulates a book for ages 4 through 9. There are two volumes, one for beginners and a program for the advanced reader. This is how it works. A child is taught phonetically to read a total of 128 sounds. Once this is taught, the child can read anything. The beginning program is structured in a general format for more of an input by the instructor.

The author of "Magic Sounds," Barbara Jackson, said, "A lot of children are having problems reading, which engulfs all races. This is why I developed the 'Magic Sounds' program."

She continues to say that the reason that children are not learning is that the reading methods are not geared to all pupils' needs. According to Jackson, poor socio¬economic classes of people share some of the same problems that upper-class families have. The only difference is that the upper class can afford to rectify their problems and poor people cannot.

For example, Jackson said, "The poor children will not necessarily get the aid he needs in reading from the parents, but a tutor or other private lessons can be obtained by an upper socio-economic parents." Jackson said that her program is inexpensive and easy to use, so both families can benefit.

Jackson feels that the schools can benefit from her program by tying in their approach, which is known as the "sight word" approach, with the "magic sounds" program. Jackson said that, "the sight word approach teaches a child to read without any rules for learning the word other than memorizing. Therefore, it cannot be successfully understood and reinforced from the home. This method is suited for gifted children or parental homework practice."

But according to Jackson, for the deprived and problem child who may be absent from school this method does not work well for him; Jackson states that relying on the mechanics of the word and sounds is better than relying on memory.

Jackson believes that a children should be taught to read from the time it is born, but the final analysis is that reading needs order.

The Philadelphia Tribune

The Place to Start Teaching Your Children to Read Is In Your Home

Readin', 'ritin' and `rithmetic - the `three Rs,' yes, but more closely akin than that. The ability to write well and do well in math is directly affected by the ability to read well. If a child can't read well, he or she won't fee able to write, spell or think well, either.

If this has been true for previous generations, it is now more than ever for the child who hasn't yet learned to read and is faced with the prospect of having to learn in crowded, less adequate schools and in an ever more competitive world. Today, there is more and more information being processed, and in order to deal with it, the average person has to be able to absorb it quickly, discover the essential facts and make decisions. The child who can't read well is at a terrible loss. If children can't read well, others will do their thinking for them, and thus will they grow up poor, both financially and culturally, circumscribed by the inability to understand in depth a great deal of what they see in print.

Reading is the basis of the most essential human activity in the world today: communication. Pictorial news can't provide depth, detail or analysis the way printed news can; political campaigns and slogans do not begin to explain the issues to the onlooker. To understand, he must read.

And the place to start learning to read is in the home. The time is before the child starts school. It is not enough to teach reading alone; spelling and writing must be taught at the same time. If a child can read well, he will write well. If he is successful in these areas, he will be happier and more confident in his other school work. Early frustrations lead to turning off and dropping out - failure, both academic and social.

Beginning September 13th, the Tribune is very pleased to present a new reading program called "Magic Sounds" which will, its proponents feel, give the child a better way to approach the task of learning to read.

The program will run for 21 weeks, every Tuesday, with a new lesson each week. The program will be designed to enable you to clip the lessons from the paper and build a complete reading series.

This at-home course is designed in such a way that a parent can use it easily; there are no sophisticated teaching techniques required, only patience and love.

© 2007-2012 Barbara Jackson