Tuesday, February 15, 2011

What Is the Best Approach to Early Reading Instruction in Schools?

Should your three-year old be reading Steinbeck? Will your child's I.Q. score be adversely affected if their school takes a deliberate approach to teaching reading skills?

The New York Times’ recent article on approaches to early literacy instruction in New York City private schools (“Reading at Some Private Schools is Delayed,” February 14, 2011) has touched off much conversation about different schools’ approaches. Parents often seek our guidance in determining which schools would make the best fit for their child, as well as assistance in understanding what kinds of outside support would be most beneficial, so we are deeply interested in the different teaching approaches to reading – and also to ensuring the development of well-rounded children with an awareness and appreciation of how their individual minds work.

Dr. Yellin, the Director of The Yellin Center and an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at New York University School of Medicine, believes that there is not a simple right-or-wrong answer to the question of which approach works best. “The take home lesson here is that there is no one-size that fits every child.  Different schools have different philosophies, approaches, cultures, and environments. Each child has his or her own needs – needs which will likely change over time. As parents and clinicians, we must continuously assess each child’s needs and use available information to make choices that, in our best judgment, best meet that child’s needs at that particular point in time. The key is to begin from the perspective of understanding the child — and then finding the best fit.”

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