Reading Recovery: What is it and How Can it Help?

Learning to read and write happens at a steady and incremental rate for many children in the first few years of school.  But what do you do if your child happens to be struggling with their early years reading?
Reading Recovery: What is it and How Can it Help?
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Learning to read and write happens at a steady and incremental rate for many children in the first few years of school. This is a remarkable achievement if we consider the many complexities of the English language. But what do you do if your child happens to be struggling with their early years reading and, outside of school support, what external help is available in the UAE?

Claire De La Haye is a Dubai-based, fully qualified Reading Recovery teacher. She talks exclusively to on the principles of this globally recognised scheme and how it can help children get over the, often difficult hurdle of learning to read.

“Sir Jim Rose said in his 2009 Primary Curriculum Review (of the UK National Curriculum) that in order for children to get the most out of a rich and varied curriculum, they first and foremost need the skills that will enable them to do this, the most obvious example of which is getting young children from the ‘learning to read’ stage to the ‘reading to learn’ stage.

He continues, “Nowhere is an entitlement to ‘quality first teaching’ more necessary or important than in equipping every child with a command of reading and writing skills.”

With the numerous representations and pronunciations of the 26 letters in the English language alphabet, added to that the various irregular verbs, order of sentences and the need to make sense at all times, it is easy to see why good quality instruction is so vital in the Early Years.

As is commonly the case, there are some children for whom the process of learning to read has not been picked up within the usual teaching framework and time frame. These are frequently NOT special needs children, but rather children who are struggling to grasp one or more of the key elements and therefore need something over and above what a regular teacher is equipped to deal with.

What is Reading Recovery?

The aim of Reading Recovery is to catch children who are struggling early, in order to prevent literacy difficulties beginning to affect a child's educational progress. It provides children beginning to fall behind in reading and writing with a second chance.

The child embarks on a short term, intensive Reading Recovery programme, with specialised one-to-one assistance which is devised to address their specific needs. The ultimate aim of the programme is to get a child up to the same reading level as their class average, thus enabling them to comfortably cope in class without the need for further support. 

Who can teach it?

Reading Recovery teachers are experienced teachers who have completed further training in order to be able to undertake detailed and accurate diagnostic assessments of a child’s reading and writing skills. 

For which age is it targeted?

The optimum age for Reading Recovery is 5-6 years of age (usually after completing at least one year of formal schooling) but can be readily adapted to suit children up the age of 8. 

What is the format of the programme?

Reading Recovery sessions (in their original format which means delivered on-site during the school day) consist of daily, individual lessons, additional to the classroom programme. Each session will incorporate the reading of appropriately levelled text, a short assessment, called a Running Record, which tracks reading progress over time, letter work, word work, and writing. 

How long would my child need to be on the programme?

It is impossible to determine exactly how long that will take, as each child progresses at their own rate. For some children this can take 12-20 weeks. Is it available in Dubai schools? Ideally, Reading Recovery lessons are delivered during school hours whilst the child is still alert and able to focus. In Dubai, Reading Recovery is sadly not provided within schools, unlike in other countries including the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the U.S. and Europe. However, Reading Recovery procedures can still be delivered by a Reading Recovery teacher outside of school hours, with an encouraging level of success.

For further information: Claire de la Haye, [email protected]  

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