A child whose parents had trouble learning to read is not destined to failure. But such children face a substantially greater risk of reading problems. Once a child is having reading difficulties in school, pediatricians or educators often discover that someone else in the family has reading difficulties. It is wise for pediatricians to ask the parents of young children whether they had difficulty learning to read and, if so, to encourage them to lend extra enthusiasm to books and reading from the start—and to pay extra attention to signs of difficulty.
“Many kids in our program have language delays. We really believe that, for them, exposure to language is key. Whether the problem is biological or environmental, you can go a long way toward increasing a child’s learning ability and cognitive capacity. Giving an enriched environment and heavy exposure to language and language materials—this is effective early intervention and prevention.”
Director, therapeutic day care
Children’s Institute International
Los Angeles, California
Most studies that examine the quality of preschools use broad-gauged tools that include language and literacy as only one small portion of the assessment. Such studies have found that it is precisely on measures of the language environment that preschool programs serving poor children scored in the inadequate range.
Strong language and literacy environments are especially effective for very young children who need an extra boost to promote their later success in reading. It is especially important for children who live in low-income communities and are slated to attend elementary schools with a poor track record in reading. Well-designed programs are also needed for individuals with specific difficulties, whether they are general cognitive ones, hearing impairments, or early language impairments. Children whose parents have a history of reading problems will also profit from well-designed language and literacy environments.