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2012 Archives

Early Intervention Can Prevent Reading Problems in Children


The following ran on CW33 news on February 28, 2012. Teaching and Learning Professor Patricia Mathes and Melinda McGrath, director of SMU's Mustang Learning Center, provided expertise for this story.

March 7, 2012

By Amanda Salinas

DALLAS—10-year-old O-Javion Spencer has had some trouble in school.

"I was having reading problems and kind of writing problems.”

The fourth grader was reading at a first grade level, sending his family into a panic.

“He could not read THE.  He could not read THEN,” says his aunt Shree Moffett.  “He just could not read.”

That’s when Moffett turned to SMU’s Mustang Learning Center for Youth and Reading Clinic.

Melinda McGrath is the director. “When a child gets behind at school they are going to push themselves out of the equation.  They take that back seat in the classroom.”

SMU’s Mustang Learning Center for Youth and Reading Clinic is a tutoring resource for children in North Texas. The sessions are based on research conducted at SMU’s Education Department.

“We now have established that we can essentially prevent reading problems from occurring if we start when kids are in Kindergarten Pre-K better,” says Patricia Mathes.

Mathes runs the Institute for Evidence Based Education at SMU.  She wrote the curriculum that is used at SMU’s Mustang Learning Center for Youth and Reading Clinic.

“We’ve shown we can get the incidents of reading failure down to less than one- percent.  That has been replicated now three different times.”

But how do parents and caregivers get children to tune into the sounds within words.  Mathes says it is more than just reading books.  She suggests creating a dialogue with your child as you read.  Discuss what is happening within the story as well as the pictures.  Mathes also recommends reading stories that have a lot of rhymes and alliteration, and play word games often.

The Institute for Evidence Based Education was founded with money from Texas Instruments in 2003.  The curriculum used is commercially available to parents.