M. J. Maddox, PhD is the American English Doctor.  
 

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Literacy

Literacy begins at home. Speaking and reading to children from birth improves their chances of academic success a thousandfold.

The knee-jerk definition of literacy is “the ability to read and write.”

This is an unsatisfactory definition because the ability to read and write exists on a spectrum.

At one level, literacy is the ability to read highway notices and sign one’s name to a legal document.

At another level, literacy is the ability to read a challenging novel like Tolstoy’s War and Peace with interest and understanding and to write a critical review of it for an academic publication.

Most working adults can get along at a level of literacy that falls somewhere between.

This site recognizes four levels of literacy: Functional, Basic, Proficient, and Advanced.

Not all children will achieve the same level of literacy. The level that a child can be expected to achieve depends upon factors such as upbringing, interests, and intellectual ability.

In previous generations, literacy was not the necessity it is in the twenty-first century. In this period of history, adults need to progress at least to the level of Basic Literacy to function well in our information-based society.

Ideally, all children who receive eight or more years of formal schooling would reach this level of literacy. In fact, close to half the children who begin school at the age of five or six will fail to become fluent readers.

Before schools were available to all children, parents who could read taught their children to read. In the twenty-first century, when public education is universal but not uniformly effective, parents need to reclaim their role as their child’s first reading teacher.

Nowadays, when free education is available to all US children, parents have been persuaded that reading should be left to the experts. Yet, large numbers of children manage to leave school without mastering the skills of Basic Literacy. Three of every ten children who begin school will drop out without completing high school. Of those who stay to graduate, only about thirty percent read at the Basic or Proficient level.

Parents can prepare their children for reading success before they get to school by making the most of their preschool years.

Our public schools are still the best hope for a just society, but they have become political battlegrounds. Corporate interests color educational practice. Teachers are often limited in their choice of the most effective teaching methods. Parents can’t afford to risk the chance that their local school administration endorses an ineffective beginning reading program.  They must provide their preschoolers with the tools they need to master the basics of literacy.

L-1 Functional or Survival Literacy
L-2 Basic Literacy
L-3 Proficiency Literacy
L-4 Advanced Literacy.