The Real Reason Struggling Readers Get Tired of Trying
For our Reading Horizons Book Club we have been reading: How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie. While reading it, this statistic sent me into a thinking frenzy: “mental work can’t make you tired. The brain can work as well and as swiftly at the end of eight or even twelve hours of effort as at the beginning, the brain is utterly tireless.” (pg. 202) Wait, what? If you’re anything like me, you feel like your brain does get tired after using it for extended periods of time.
Carnegie goes on to explain what it is that really makes us feel like our brains are tired: “most of our fatigue comes from our mental and emotional attitudes. Dr. A. A. Drill declared: ‘100% of the fatigue of the sedentary worker in good health is due to psychological factors, by which we mean emotional factors.’ We get tired because our emotions produce nervous tensions in the body.” (pg. 203)
I couldn’t help myself but to apply that to struggling readers (and struggling students in general). If simply using their brain to read doesn’t tire their mind; why then, when struggling readers are practicing reading do they say they are tired after awhile? Why do they want to stop trying? According to the statistic presented by Carnegie, struggling readers get tired when reading because they are frustrated with themselves, they are worried they will never understand, or they are being weighed down by another emotional problem while trying to read.
A lot of times struggling readers don’t have to feel frustrated. If struggling readers are taught with interactive, explicit phonics instruction, they will have a much easier time learning to read. If you work with struggling readers, teach them in a way that will prevent them from feeling frustrated or worried.