What IS Reading Success?
When a child learns to read, they build a network in their brains to guide the ‘process’ of reading. They learn their alphabet letters. Next they learn the sounds to associate with those letter symbols. Then they learn to combine those letter symbol sounds into words.
Hooray, successful reading! Not so fast. Your child brings home a note from their teacher that says they are below grade level in their reading ability! What! They were taught the steps in the ‘process’ for reading. How can this be?
We are not born with a ‘reading gene’. Reading success is a learned skill. Like so many other skills we master throughout our lives, there are a multitude of connected or underlying skills that build the foundation to reading success. As an example, when a child rides a bicycle, they are totally aware they are doing it, but they have no idea what the brain is doing to make it happen. No parent tries to explain to their child the proper muscle movement required to ride a bike. They just think the child’s brain will figure that out for itself. What is happening if the child struggles to ride the bike? Do their muscles need strengthening, or do they need to develop their ability to balance, or pedal while balancing??? The underlying brain processes necessary for riding a bike, may need to be strengthened or even developed.
This is also true for reading success. There are underlying skills necessary for reading success: For Example: Visual processing or symbol imagery is the ability to gather all those letters a child sees in a word and hold them on the screens in their brain until the brain matches sounds to those symbols and sends that word back to them. They then must compare it to the word they see in front of them in the text. For some struggling readers this skill is weak or underdeveloped. Their memory needs to grow stronger. Time to exercise this skill and make it stronger so they can better decode words as they read and instantly identify sight words in order to keep their reading pace going which will then aid in their comprehension. If a child must stop at every word and ‘sound it out’, they are not only struggling with word identification but more importantly, they will struggle to remember what they read and comprehend!
Here is an exercise to develop visual processing and memory for reading success. You can do this exercise with a variety of pictures from books and magazines and photos. Just create your own questions to go with the visual.
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