Whatever It Takes: Specialized Teachers Help Children Learn to Read and Write


The Canadian Institute for Reading Recovery is a registered charitable organization, dedicated to supporting early literacy learning for children across Canada. © Courtesy of The Canadian Institute For Reading Recovery

“Your daughter seems to be having difficulty learning to read and write.” These are alarming words for parents like Cheryl, who remembers her fear when she met with her daughter Hailey’s Grade 1 teacher. The teacher suggested Hailey take part in specialized lessons at school to help her learn to read and write. Worry set in for Cheryl, who began to wonder if she did not read to Hailey enough as a toddler.

“I still remember getting the call from the teacher. I was worried by some of the words used, like ‘at-risk’, but was relieved that Hailey was getting the help she so needed,” Cheryl explained.

The good news is that struggling to learn how to read and write is no indication of failure on anyone’s part. Reading is something many of us take for granted. Most of us pick up the basics as preschoolers from older family members and fine-tune our skills once we enter elementary school.

Unfortunately, the trajectory to proficient reading isn’t always this straightforward. Each year across Ontario, about 20 per cent of Grade 1 students will have significant difficulty picking up the basic building blocks that prepare them for a lifetime of reading and literacy.

The Canadian Institute of Reading Recovery is here to help.

For decades, the Canadian Institute of Reading Recovery, a national charitable organization, has worked behind the scenes to help young learners. Reading Recovery is an intensive 20-week early intervention that pairs Grade 1 students who have the most difficulty learning to read and write with specially trained teachers for just 30 minutes every school day. Each teacher is trained to adapt to the learning needs and strengths of the child, with each lesson building on existing knowledge and books that match the child’s interests and experiences.

the canadian institute for reading recovery
Photo © Courtesy of The Canadian Institute of Reading Recovery

Each year, a typical Reading Recovery trained teacher works one-on-one with eight to 12 Reading Recovery students and 2,040 other students. Each teacher is trained by a Teacher Leader who supports the implementation of Reading Recovery and other literacy initiatives across an entire school district.

Working with a highly skilled teacher for about 40 hours of targeted instruction means children like Hailey can catch up with their peers so they are well equipped for the rest of their educational journey. According to Cheryl, thanks to the intervention, school, and Hailey’s teacher, she is well on her way to enjoying a lifetime of reading.

“Hailey now looks forward to reading!”

“When we’re reading at home, I can see her trying to get the words on her own instead of just looking at us to tell her the word,” she said. “We can see her trying to read her schoolwork more and more. We see her trying to use the skills she has learned. She wants to play ‘spelling bee’ to spell words herself. She loves to leave little notes for her dad and I too!”

To learn more about Reading Recovery or l’intervention préventive en lecture-écriture, or to find out how to ensure students like Hailey can learn to read and write in Grade 1,
visit rrcanada.org.

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About The Canadian Institute for Reading Recovery

Reading Recovery offers effective short-term early literacy intervention delivered 1 on 1 by specially trained teachers and is individually designed to help the lowest achieving children become confident readers and writers in just weeks. 


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