Saturday, January 19, 2013

Why Are They NOT Reading at Grade Level?

Did you know that over 68% of America's 4th, 8th and 12th graders are not reading at grade level?(Source: National Center for Education Statistics) Yes, this current statistic indicates that we actually have a “reading crisis” in our country today. Why is this?

If you are a parent or teacher, there is a very good chance that when you were growing up, you engaged in different play activities from what children engage in today. You enjoyed more physical activities such as running, jumping, bike riding, playing hop-scotch, building make-shift tents or forts and much more. Those activities not only provided physical activity and healthy exercise, but they also helped you develop good, vision-related skills---proper balance, good eye-hand coordination, appropriate tracking of an object, peripheral vision skills, left-to-right discrimination and eye progression and more.

Today, children often do not have the same opportunities to develop these skills, certainly not to the level required for the building of good reading skills. Where you may have played dodge ball in the street at age 10, today’s 10 year-old boys and girls are often spending long periods of free time in a very different way. Television viewing and playing video games are at the top of their list of “activities” today. When this is the case, not only do youth obesity rates increase, but the vision skills needed for appropriate development of good reading skills may not properly develop.

Current statistics show that the average child in the U.S. spends 1,480 minutes per week watching television (more than 24 hours per week). Even more disturbing, when asked to choose between watching TV and spending time with their fathers, 54% of 4-6 year-olds preferred watching television. As a group, children under age eight spend an average of 25 minutes per day playing video games. (Sources: Statistic Brain, 2012 and Media Statistics - Children’s Use of TV, Internet, and Video Games by Dr. Brent Conrad, Clinical Psychologist for TechAddiction)

So, if you have a young child, seriously consider finding appropriate ways to increase the amount of time your child spends engaged in good, physical activity. Frequent walks to the park or just kicking a ball in the backyard are great, yet simple promoters of good balance, peripheral vision skills and much more.

If your child is of school age and actually experiencing reading challenges, there are options that can help in addition to encouraging increased physical activity. First, rule out the possibility that a vision-related reading challenge is causing the issues experienced. To do this, consider making an appointment with a developmental optometrist who is the preferred medical professional for evaluation, diagnosis and treatment for these vision-related reading challenges (visit to locate such a medical professional in your area).

You might also want to check out helpful resources such as and other articles here that can offer good tips, strategies and resources (apps, etc.) to help struggling readers.

In the meantime, please also keep in mind that reading to your child no matter the age will also enhance his development and attitudes toward reading and literacy in general. It will do much to develop your relationship with your child, too! What a great plan of “action” that is!

Happy reading, everyone!

Sources: Statistic Brain (2012) and Media Statistics - Children’s Use of TV, Internet, and Video Games by Dr. Brent Conrad, Clinical Psychologist for TechAddiction ---

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