A Beginning Literacy Program for At-Risk and Delayed Readers
Children come to school with different strengths and weaknesses. They come from environments with varying degrees of print richness and literacy values. Nevertheless, most learn to read despite differences in their strengths and weaknesses, home environments, and school programs. The students at Benchmark School, a school for struggling readers in Grades 1 through 8, have had opportunities for print experiences that are similar to those of other students who learn to read. Yet, despite their having at least average learning potential, our students have not succeeded in learning to read. They are children who, parents tell us, would not sit still to hear a story read to them and did not pick up pencil and paper to experiment with words during their preschool years. They showed little interest in the magnetic alphabet letters on the refrigerator door and did not voluntarily look at books and pretend to read. When they entered kindergarten and first grade, teachers labeled them "not ready" for formal instruction.