Research shows that 88 percent of reading disorders are caused by problems in sound recognition and awareness. Understanding your child’s skill levels in these areas will help lay the foundation for solid reading for a lifetime. by Sabra Gelfond-Ingall, M.A., CCC-SLP.
Learning to read begins when a child first hears spoken words. The sounds of our language form early patterns children use to speak and eventually, to read. For children to learn to read successfully, they must start with a strong foundation of sound awareness and build on it by incorporating more difficult, abstract skills. You can compare the process of learning to read to building a house. A well-built structure requires a strong foundation or the underlying weakness will cause problems over time. The same is true in “building” a better reader. Without the right foundational skills, learning to read can be very difficult.;
For some children reading comes easily because underlying skills develop properly, but for the children with weak skills, reading difficulties become evident as early as grades 1-3 and can remain for life.
You can better detect if your child is at risk for reading problems by understanding the following stages of learning to read:
In order to read, children must first understand that spoken language (words) is made of individual sound segments (phonemes). Most children acquire this phonemic awareness by the end of kindergarten or beginning of first grade.
The next level of learning to read includes learning phonics (the mechanics of sounds within words). Children need to learn and practice fundamental principles blending sounds and associating sounds and symbols.
Children also develop accuracy and fluency to set the stage for enhanced comprehension. It’s not enough to have phonemic awareness and understand phonics. He or she must practice until enough recognition, speed, and an automatic approach to reading develops.
Finally, children develop comprehension skills, the real reason for reading. Comprehension needs to be fostered. At this step, parents should encourage their child to talk about what she reads and help her with abstract information (how or why something happens). This goes beyond simple recitation of the facts.
Many parents and teachers put off assessing a child’s reading difficulties because they believe the problem will be outgrown. This simply is untrue. Studies have consistently shown that children who read poorly in early years continue to exhibit reading difficulties throughout high school and beyond without appropriate intervention. Remain alert to your child’s reading struggles and potential. This helps you know when to seek professional help. Many reading difficulties can be identified in kindergarten or 1st grade. If you suspect your child is having difficulties, contact a professional for appropriate testing and a consultation today.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Reading problems/dyslexia screenings and a complete cognitive skills test are essential first steps to getting a struggling reader on track. LearningRx Training Centers offer screenings and affordable testing packages to parents seeking to help their children. Please call your local LearningRx professional or visit www.learningrx.com for information you can use today.
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