No single method works for all kids

Sept. 2, 2011
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Opinions Page

No single method works for all kids

Marcia Henry seems to believe that teaching children the alphabetic principle is a silver bullet, and once teachers do science-based instruction, all children will learn to read – “Science can lead to better readers,” Aug. 28.

In my 35 years of teaching struggling readers, I have found that reading is a complex act, combining the construction of meaning with the processing of print. Because each child is different, no one prescribed method of teaching reading works for all children.

Certainly, children need effective strategies to solve unknown words as they read, but comprehension is the main goal. Henry seems to imply starting with a story is somehow misguided when we should be teaching children the code.

However, I believe that the power is in the story. When children love a story, they read it again and again, and each time they become more fluent and comprehend more deeply.

Ask adults what they remember about reading as a child and they will tell you the title of a favorite book or a beloved character. I wager none of them will cite a favorite spelling principle.

Jan Detrie
Watertown