Teaching Struggling Readers: Focus on Meaning
Why do we read? Of course, you will say we read for pleasure and we read for information and perhaps even we read to become better writers and thinkers. In order to enjoy and learn from reading we must make sense of the words on the printed page. This is true of all readers. The driver behind all reading activities is meaning.
Struggling readers have difficulty accessing meaning. This difficulty can lead to a cascading accumulation of reading difficulties. Kids who have difficulty making sense of what they read, read less. When they read with the teacher, they are more likely to be interrupted than skilled readers and so they read less. When children read less, they get less chance to develop the decoding abilities, vocabulary knowledge, syntactic understanding and content richness that good readers need.
Reading researcher, Keith Stanovitch has called this, "Matthew Effects in Reading", the idea that in reading the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, mainly due to differentiated exposure to text. Motivational issues then compound the problem. When you are not good at something, you tend to avoid it. Children who are not good at reading read less.
Stanovitch and others have identified one primary cause of reading difficulty - phonological processing. Children with phonological processing problems have difficulty decoding words - breaking words down to their Russ on Reading: Teaching Struggling Readers: Focus on Meaning: