Saturday, 28 September 2013

Carlyn Ryklief: Reading Recovery and Special Needs

Karyn’s Introduction:

Carlyn shares with us her experiences working with some of our most treasured young people- inclusiveness is one the three principles of our logo- along with identity and innovation. Carlyn shares some of the ways we cater for inclusiveness.

Reading Recovery and Special Needs

Years ago I heard a story about an advertising executive giving a lesson about how to get someone’s attention.  Use large print, he said, add color, make it entertaining, provide moving images, keep it simple, don’t overload, etc, etc.

A student responded.  I read something once. It had small words.  Lots of them, with none of the above. And I read every word.
You see, the title was “All about You”

Reading recovery and Special Needs personify that “all about you “ philosophy.  It takes you where you are and works from there. It celebrates your every achievement because it does not work from a deficit model of what you are supposed to achieve.   

I heard about Reading Recovery here in New Zealand and I was thrilled to be trained.  Until then, I’ve had to tearfully confess, I thought that most of the time, if children were not progressing, they weren’t trying hard enough. 

So I was delighted and surprised at the profound effect intervention through Reading Recovery provided.  The results formed the basis of my inquiry presentation to staff, and convinced me that the accelerated progress of the students was directly related to the conscious and deliberate intervention via Reading Recovery. 

Marie Clay teaches literacy lessons designed for the individual.  And it’s this individualized, personalized, cockpit adapted approach that is a hallmark of 21st Century learning.  

Just today I attended a 2 ½ hour (non-stop) talk by Barbra Watson about how to shape, extend and lift children’s writing.  Such ongoing support 2 years after training makes Reading Recovery the best professional development I have ever encountered. 

Students with Special needs come to our attention because their uniqueness is more obvious.  Even within the same diagnosis, students present a continuum or a spectrum that requires individual adaptations. 

My next blog will delve into some of these. 


  1. Reading Recovery can be life changing for those students who are lucky enough to get on to it. I remember training in R/R and thinking, 'what on earth have I been doing in class for the last 3 years!' I learnt so much about teaching someone to read. I look forward to your next post.

  2. Kia ora Carlyn, I love reading your pieces of writing because I can actually hear your voice as I read. It offers me a look at education through your eyes and a feeling of passion and compassion you bring to our profession. Nei ra te mini ki a koe.