Every teacher knows that children who struggle with reading struggle for different reasons. Some can’t hear the individual sounds (phonemes) in words. Others struggle with processing the sounds in the right order. To paraphrase Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, proficient readers are all the same, but struggling readers all struggle for their own individual reasons.
Neuroscientist Dr. Martha Burns studies how a child’s individual brain strcture makes a difference in the way they learn and in the challenges that child is likely to face on the journey to becoming a proficient reader. For example: a child with less left-brain activity when reading is likely to have less interconnection between their brain lobes, and can often struggle with connecting letters and sounds.
Dr Burns’ work shows the value of taking an individual approach to each child. It also shows the value in taking an incremental approach to reading, so that if a problem emerges, it is easier to isolate the cause.
This work also reminds me of the work of some of my teaching mentors. I have seen teachers I admire doing this without an fMRI. When they see a student struggling, they try to diagnose the problem, figure out why the child is struggling, and design some exercises to help close the gap.
SOURCE: Inside the Brain of a Struggling Reader (via District Administration)