One-on-one reading making big strides

Monica Mendoza, Story and photo
Kaiserslautern American

***image1***By the end of kindergarten children should be able to identify letters,
words and sounds. They should be able to look at pictures in a book and
predict what the story could be. And they should know what to do with
letters and words.

If a child struggles with those things, he or she has a chance to
recover in first-grade through an intensive one-on-one reading program
offered at all 12 schools in the Kaiserslautern District of Department
of Defense Dependent Schools.

This is a chance for the district’s youngest pupils to catch up in
reading and writing long before they even know they’ve fallen behind,
said Julie Wittenberg, Kaiserslautern District Reading Recovery teacher

“Children who are having difficulty when their peers are finding
reading easy will start to believe school is difficult,” Ms. Wittenberg
said. “Once a child falls behind, it’s tougher to catch-up because now
you have the emotions that go along with failure.”

Reading with your child

Tips for parents from the Reading Matters early
literacy website and Reading Recovery teachers.

– Let your child choose a book.

Read the title of the book and look at the cover together. Ask your child, “What
do you think the story will be about?”

Flip through the pages, look at the pictures, ask your child, “What
do you think will happen next?”
– Praise your child for attempting to make predictions.
– While reading, make sure your child can see the pictures. Use expression
in reading. Continue to encourage your child to predict what might happen
– Reading should be a positive, fun experience. Parents should encourage
their child instead of only correcting.

After reading, talk about the story: “What did you like best?” Ask
your child to retell the story in his or her words.


Thirteen years ago the district began phasing in Reading Recovery,
designed to give children intensive 30-minute daily tutoring for 12 to
20 weeks. Today, there are 32 teachers in the Kaiserslautern District
schools trained in Reading Recovery and an estimated 300 children will
participate this school year.

“It’s like having a personal trainer,” said Mrs. Agnes Gonzales,
Reading Recovery teacher at Vogelweh Elementary School. “Who wouldn’t
want that?”
Kindergarten teachers know if a child is falling behind because the child gets frustrated or distracted during reading time.

Children who fall behind in the early grades are more likely to stay behind through their K-12 school career, Wittenberg said.

“The goal is to get them up to their class level,” Ms. Wittenberg said.
Data from the program, which is used in 49 states and many DODD
schools, shows that children who start out reading below their peers
and then participate in Reading Recovery make gains and move ahead of
the average first-grade reader. And, Wittenberg said, they stay ahead.

Learning to read can be frustrating for some children, said Mr. George Brown, Reading Recovery teacher at Vogelweh.

“To them, when they first start out, all of the letters look the same,” Mr. Brown said.

Frustration may lead to acting out or shutting down, he said. Reading
Recovery teachers spend time with children working on self-esteem, so
they think of themselves as readers.

“At this age, children love school,” Mr. Brown said. “This, hopefully, gives them a good start.”

Find out more about Reading Recovery at and for more reading tips go to