A remedial reading recipe

Two elementary schools in this suburb of New York City (Tillson and Meagher) are very pleased with their tutorial reading program. This is the third year they've used the program, and it is time, they feel, to share their solution to reading problems with other interested school districts.

Virginia F. Martin, reading coordinator for the Kingston schools, describes how it works:

''The title of the program, 'Recipe for Reading,' is very apt. It is just that - a recipe, which, when followed correctly, will produce a successful reader.

''Volunteers are recruited from all segments of the community, especially senior citizens and women working in their homes whose children are grown.''

She lists the requirements for a tutor: ''A desire to help children and availability two, three, or five days a week for two hours a day.''

The program is extremely structured - as the title says, the volunteer tutors follow a ''recipe.''

And the relationship between program and tutor is supportive - ''never critical.''

As Virginia Martin explains, ''There are daily, as well as periodic, rewards for work well done.''

The ''recipe'' focuses attention on auditory, visual, and kinesthetic factors; that is, on learning by hearing, seeing, and feeling.

For example, three-dimensional objects are used to introduce the sounds of the letters.

Also, special color-cued paper and pencil grips help ensure correct formation of the letters.

Further: The child always sits in the same place so that points of reference for left and right are constant.

Every lesson begins with a review of flash cards previously learned. Next, the tutor sounds each letter learned to date, while the pupil responds by both naming it and writing it. And the formation of the letters must follow the prescribed ''recipe.''

When the volunteer tutor introduces a new word, the child repeats it and spells it out loud. Next he writes it down, forming the letters as previously drilled. He follows this by spelling orally what he has written down.

And only then is he asked to actually ''read'' the word off the flash card.

Virginia Martin explains how sentences are taught: ''The tutor dictates a sentence and the child repeats it several times before spelling each word out loud as he writes it.

''For the student who has difficulty remembering the dictation, specific memory techniques are employed.

''Next, the child reads the sentence from a card.''

When the student has mastered several sentences in this manner, he is asked to read a phonetic storybook, using the words and sentences he's just learned. The child and the tutor alternate oral reading of the storybook at this stage in the ''recipe.''

Each lesson ends with the playing of phonetic word games designed to give the pupil a feeling of success, and incidentally to provide more review of past lessons.

When the pupil leaves, the tutor makes a precise record of what was taught and what was learned.

All materials and games are made by the tutors.

Short ''a'' words, for example, are written on toy or paper apples. Short ''u'' words on paper umbrellas.

After a child has learned several short ''i'' words, he gets to wear an Indian headdress with the words he's mastered written on the paper feathers.

There's also a word necklace. Each word learned illustrating each new sound is placed on the necklace which, Virginia Martin says, ''The children wear with pride throughout the school. Instead of the usual stigma of having to be in remedial reading, these children are envied by their peers.''

The conclusion of those who have worked with the ''Recipe for Reading'' over the past three years is:

''The program does work!''

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