As the recent report from the Ontario Human Rights Commission public inquiry into human rights issues affecting students with reading disabilities stated, every child has the “Right to Read.” The Ontario Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce, has admitted that one in six adults in the province have low literacy skills, that 25 percent of Grade 3 students are not meeting reading standards, and that the status quo is not working.
These statistics come as no surprise to those parents who have long recognized that their children need help and who have fought to get that help. They, along with many educators, realize that direct teaching of foundation skills, such as phonemic awareness, is crucial if the risk of reading failure is to be significantly reduced. While an overhaul of the curriculum is underway, it takes a long time, on-going commitment and support to change the direction of a huge ocean liner.
In the interim, and in order to give parents, teachers, early childhood educators and tutors some direct support, the Learning Disabilities Association of Ottawa-Carleton is currently sponsoring a new program called IMPACT, developed by Heather Desjardins of The Open Door Educational Services. IMPACT consists of three 35-minute instructional videos focused on risk assessment and play-to-learn strategies that are evidence-based and easy to utilize in the regular JK/SK/early primary classroom or on a one-to-one basis, without the need for special materials or additional training. By broadening access to this type of early intervention, they hope to reduce the number of children who are vulnerable to reading struggles.