Children’s health and reading

nbruce writes “Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal (April 27) had 2 articles about reading and children in the health section. Those interested in either might take a look.

One reported on a story that poor readers show changes in brain activity after highly intensive reading intervention. Underuse of the left hemisphere results in poor reading skills. After 105 hours of tutoring, the children read more accurately and fluently.

The other reported on a parent training program, designed to save Medicaid costs. The parents of children in HeadStart programs were taught to use research material instead of the emergency room for help for minor illnesses. Prior to training, 69% chose ER as a first source; after training, that was down 32%.

The research training gave the parents confidence to 1) first go to a reference book, 2) learn to define symptoms in reporting it, 3) taught them to use a thermometer, 4) taught them to use OTC medications, fluids and sponge baths, and 5) to call to consult with a medical person.

What to do when your child gets sick is a book designed for readers with low literacy. The goal of the pilot project is to educate 12,000 families by the end of 2005. The program also reduced days missed from work by the parents, which went down by 41%.”