Myth: "You can just tell at the beginning of the school year who isn't going to be able to learn as quickly as the other students."
Fact: There is a very wide range of normal student development at these young ages. Even students with reading disabilities can learn much more and much faster than you may think!
Myth: "Teachers are not doing their jobs!"
Fact: Most schools do not provide adequate protected instructional opportunities for teachers to teach reading, and they do not support their teachers with ongoing professional development in how to effectively teach phonics.
Myth: "Some students struggle at the beginning of school and you shouldn't overwhelm them by teaching them the same reading skills the rest of the students are learning."
Fact: Young children are geared for learning language and reading, and they are absorbing much more information than is readily apparent. In fact, young children learn reading skills much faster than older children and adults can!
Myth: "If a student can read the words on the page with expression, then she must understand what she's reading."
Fact: Many children struggle with reading comprehension even though they are proficient at reading the words on the page. It seems obvious to adults that we read the words to get meaning and information, but children do not always make that connection. It's important to start guiding them to visualize the meaning of the sentences that are read to them or that they read themselves.
Myth: "Young students learning English need a sheltered instructional approach."
Fact: Students in grades pre-k through 3rd or 4th grade are learning language so incredibly fast that not exposing them to the full range of classroom materials is doing them a disservice. However, students entering school after 3rd grade who don't speak any English and who may never have attended school before will need a lot more support than younger students.
Myth: "Teachers were taught in college how to teach reading."
Fact: Colleges of education often have competing views of how to teach reading AND usually only elementary teachers take a single reading course. Studies show that a third of us easily learn to read, so the teaching method doesn't matter, but most students best benefit from a balanced literacy (phonics & sight words) approach to instruction. It's a fun way to teach if you've someone shows you how because all of your students are engaged and learning!
Myth: "You have to use a research proven intervention and a basal reader from a publishing company."
Fact: You have to use research based teaching techniques, interventions, and materials and you must choose reading materials with grade appropriate text complexity. Providing a solid framework for skills introduction and teaching techniques can usually be combined with materials already in the school's book room; and there are great online resources that are free! With the right guidance, most schools can devise a highly effective reading program without spending lots of money!
Myth: "The kids cannot learn all of these reading skills so fast!"
Fact: Young children are wired for language and learning. If teachers had to learn to read as adults, they would not be able to keep up the pace of the instruction outlined for the students. However, children under the age of 10 or 11 have supercomputer brains geared specifically for learning language and reading skills. Teachers may worry they're overloading their students, but the kids can absorb it and leave us adults in the dust!
Myth: "We can catch up a struggling reader later. It's OK to wait."
Fact: Not providing immediate support and intervention is a recipe for failure. It takes exponentially longer to remediate older struggling readers because their supercomputer language brain slows down around age 11 as it switches gears to develop other skills.
Myth: "We have an effective reading program, but our kids don't start school ready to learn to read."
Fact: If your reading program isn't working for your students, you don't need better students. You need a better reading program. Regardless of the "raw material," we only have until about 4th grade to teach students those foundational reading skills. That means the system has to change - not the students.