On this episode of Trust Your Gut I (Jennifer Barnhill) interviewed first grade teacher and reading specialist candidate, Melinda Giordano, to learn how parents can help identify reading issues early. I asked how can we really know if our kids are ready for reading?
A Personal Reading Connection
I asked Melinda this question because it is one I have asked myself. When I joined Partners in PROMISE a year ago I had a gut feeling that my daughter was struggling with reading, inattention and a hard time “getting started” on tasks. My first red flag was daydreaming. But the thing that made me stop in my tracks was reading. Out of the blue with no previous test scores as a warning she had fallen behind in second grade.
Then COVID shut down the world. I wished I had identified her struggles earlier. I wished we had not pulled her out for a PCS move in the middle of kindergarten when phonics lessons were being taught. But instead of dwelling on what was we are focusing on what will be. We are still learning how to help develop her reading skills and this episode was as much a lesson for me as I hope it is for you.
More important than identifying learning differences is to “find out what their strengths are too,” says Melinda. “Whenever we think of disabilities we are so focused on the deficit. But we need to think of the glass being half full at the same time. You have to meet children where they are. What can they do? What are they capable of? What are their strengths, isolate what they are. Know it and help them own it and build some confidence.”
In my case, when my daughter came to me crying because people were homeless I was in a position to build confidence. She saw empty buildings at the closed Fort Ord and wanted to fix them, clean them up, paint them (Navy families live in blue houses, Army in green, you get the picture) and fix the problem. She may need extra reading help, but her passion and abilities far outshine her struggles. Being a part of Partners in PROMISE has prepared me to help advocate for her even before I knew I needed to. I hope that this episode and the content we create will do the same for you.
As a professional educator, Melinda has been teaching for over 20 years in both public, private, and DODEA settings. Understanding that being a strong reader is at the foundation of education, teaching reading has been the focal point of her career and in homeschooling her own four children. Earning a B.S. in Psychology, M.S.T. in Elementary Education, and a graduate certificate in Literacy Instruction, Melinda has been committed to improvement as a professional while being an Army spouse for the last 22 years. She can relate to the struggles we face as military families, especially in the unique educational paths of our children. With a passion for travel, you will always find Melinda with bags packed for the next trip on the horizon.