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How common is functional illiteracy?
Read and Spell blog
How common is functional illiteracy?

How common is functional illiteracy?

Functional illiteracy is different from illiteracy. Adults who are functionally illiterate have some reading and writing ability, whereas a person who is illiterate has never been taught how to read or write. Thanks to government regulations that make school attendance mandatory, there are fewer illiterate people today compared to in past centuries. However, functional illiteracy is more common than you might think.

Some estimates suggest that 1 in 7 people in the United States and the United Kingdom struggles with literacy skills. Functional illiteracy is defined by the extent to which difficulties with reading and writing prevent an adult from serving as a functioning member of society.

Literacy skills are the key to graduating high school, getting a job, pursuing further education, accessing job training and advancing in your career. You also need to be able to read and write in order to use a computer, send emails and text messages to friends and family, engage on social media, and navigate the web.

Difficulty writing
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Difficulty writing

Difficulty writing

Writing is a complex and cognitively demanding task that requires a child to bring together both lower and higher order skills, including manipulating abstract ideas while paying close attention to the spelling and punctuation conventions of written English.

If the physical act of putting letters on a page is problematic or a learning difficulty gets in the way of fluent language production, students may struggle to come up with legible and coherent compositions. This can lead to poor marks on quizzes and exams but can also affect learning when note-taking skills are compromised.

Because writing is central to most subjects across the school curriculum, over time poor performance on written assignments can result in negative associations with classroom learning, low self-esteem and a general lack of confidence at school. A child may believe he or she is a bad writer and begin to avoid writing activities, which in turn results in a less developed skill set.

The tragedy is that with the right strategy training and appropriate accommodations, every child can achieve his or her full potential.

Dysgraphia symptoms in children
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7 Dysgraphia symptoms in children

7 Dysgraphia symptoms in children

Dysgraphia is a language based specific learning disability or difference that primarily affects writing. It can be difficult to spot in young learners, as not every child develops literacy skills at the same rate. Nonetheless, there are some hallmark signs of trouble which usually show up when a child first learns to write.

For example, these children often have problems holding a pen or pencil and forming letters and numbers, both in print and in cursive writing. They can struggle to express themselves in writing, from organizing ideas, to spelling and using punctuation correctly. Poor handwriting is common. The spacing between words may be uneven, letter size can vary and there will be issues staying inside margins.

Students with dysgraphia can find it hard to show what they have learned when assessment is done via writing assignments. Dysgraphic children also tend to find copying exercises challenging and may avoid coloring and drawing too.

As writing by hand is necessary for everything from putting your name at the top of a page, to making notes, completing worksheets and taking tests, learning can be affected when a child doesn’t get access to the accommodations and strategy training he or she needs.

When b and d letter reversal becomes an issue …
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B and d letter reversal

B and d letter reversal

Writing by hand requires a child to correctly identify the sticks, curves and/or circles that make up a letter, then reproduce those shapes in a particular orientation, using a set sequence of pen strokes. Before the skill is automatized, the handwriting process can be quite mentally taxing. New writers are also struggling to develop the fine motor skills needed to grip a pen or pencil and the language encoding skills required for reading and spelling.

Add to this the challenge of writing in a straight line and creating letters of the same height and width and you’ll find that reversing letters is a common mistake for beginners to make. This is particularly the case for symbols built from the same set of shapes, including b/d, p/q, f/t, i/j, m/w and n/u. Nonetheless, most children grow out of letter reversal by age 7 and it only becomes a cause for concern when errors occur beyond first and second grade.

My child has dyslexia
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My child has dyslexia

My child has dyslexia

A guest post from the authors of ‘The Illustrated Guide to Dyslexia and Its Amazing People'

6 Gifted children problems and how to help
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6 Gifted children problems

6 Gifted children problems

Gifted children are often precocious learners who can master counting, reading, and writing skills from a very early age. They will generally have a large vocabulary, advanced grammar and adult-like communicative abilities.

But while many do exceptionally well in academic pursuits, there are cases in which how best to support these special children, as they require help in areas in which they are underperforming and stimulation to encourage and nurture their giftedness. Moreover, some gifted children have difficulty making friends with same-age peers.

This can result in feelings of isolation, low self-esteem and a lack of confidence in social situations. That’s why it’s important to recognize problems early on, to ensure every child gets the help they need to reach their full potential.

Literacy blogs for adult education teachers
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5 Literacy blogs

5 Literacy blogs

Teachers in adult education know that every learner brings a unique set of skills to the classroom and there is no one size fits all approach. That’s why we’ve put together a list of the top 5 literacy blogs to help educators exchange ideas and keep abreast of the latest research findings.

One of the most important things we learn at school is how to read and write. Literacy skills allow us to be functioning members of society, working and living productive and informed lives. Everything from the directions on a bottle of medicine to a job application requires reading.

That’s why it’s crucial for adults who struggle with literacy skills to have access to education opportunities. Moreover, programs should not only provide reading instruction, but also take into account the emotional and social aspects of returning to school as a mature learner. 

Identifying dyslexia in 3 easy steps
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Identifying dyslexia in 3 easy steps

Identifying dyslexia in 3 easy steps

Dyslexia is a specific learning difference that can affect both children and adults and cause difficulties with reading, spelling and math. It’s important for parents and teachers to understand that dyslexia does not affect intellect. Rather, it is a different way of processing language in the brain.

Often individuals who are dyslexic struggle to split words into their component sounds. For children who are learning how to read and write, this causes frustration and poor performance in activities involving literacy skills. Because reading is required across the curriculum, students may quickly fall behind their same-age peers and lose confidence in the classroom.

That’s why it’s important to recognize the symptoms early on so children can gain access to appropriate coping strategies and accommodations that can help them achieve their full potential at school.

When learning disabilities in adults go undiagnosed
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When learning disabilities in adults go undiagnosed

When learning disabilities in adults go undiagnosed

Learning disabilities are neurological differences in the way the human brain processes, stores and communicates information. Some estimates suggest that over 10% of the world’s population is affected by a learning disability such as dyslexia, dyspraxia and/or attention deficit disorder (ADHD). In extreme cases, they can cause individuals to miss out on literacy skills development, particularly when schools do not recognize the symptoms early on.

For adults, having an undiagnosed learning disability can affect career choice, limit job advancement and lead to a number of psychological and emotional issues, including depression and feelings of low self-worth. This is particularly true when the person interprets his or her past educational failures as personal faults and experiences feelings of embarrassment and shame because of a perceived intellectual deficiency.

The tragedy is that with the right diagnosis, coping strategies and accommodations can be put in place to help every individual with a learning disability achieve their full potential.

Signs of a gifted child in the classroom
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7 Signs of a gifted child

7 Signs of a gifted child

Giftedness is often defined as an intellectual ability linked to an IQ score of 130 or over. However, not all gifted children excel in an academic area. Some may display high creative, artistic, musical and/or leadership abilities relative to their peers.

Giftedness can be focused in one skill, or it may be more general. It's also important for parents and educators to understand that it can sometimes come with specific learning differences that impact on performance at school. In these situations it's important to help a child develop their talents while also overcoming any challenges posed by the SpLDs.

In some cases, it may be appropriate for the child to attend a special program or a school specifically for gifted children, so they have ample opportunities for advancement in a classroom environment that is sensitive to their needs and provides adequate stimulation. With access to the right resources and emotional and academic support, every gifted child can achieve their full potential at school.

Dyslexia and dysgraphia -- what's the difference?
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Dyslexia and dysgraphia – what’s the difference?

Dyslexia and dysgraphia – what’s the difference?

Many parents and teachers struggle to distinguish between specific learning disabilities that impact on literacy skills. This confusion is made even worse when they have such similar names. While dyslexia is traditionally associated with reading, dysgraphia affects writing. Both are language disorders that can cause a child to struggle in the classroom, but they are separate conditions with unique neurological and behavioral profiles (1).

Children with dysgraphia may have trouble with letter formation and word spacing in handwriting. They can experience difficulty with written expression, from translating ideas into language, and organizing their thoughts, to using grammar, capital letters, and punctuation correctly. For students with dyslexia, it is often English spelling and sounding out words in reading that are problematic.