Learning to read is one of the primary goals for children in elementary school. It is a life skill that not only enables people to gain knowledge and complete everyday tasks with greater ease, but it can provide us with hours of enjoyment.
What is reading?
Reading is a language-based activity. Understanding of written text is the primary goal of reading. The language that children acquire through speaking and listening plays an important role in their ability to understand print. Reading is a complex activity that involves decoding the print as well as understanding the print. For some people, this happens “automatically” while other people require additional help. Researchers have documented that early progress in reading is closely associated with oral language development (vocabulary and grammar) and phonemic and phonological awareness (the knowledge of sounds in our language and the ability to blend those sounds to form words, phrases and sentences).
How do we learn to read?
The beginning reader must learn to recognize the printed letters (graphemes) and associate them with their individual sounds (phonemes). Then the reader must blend these sounds to form words. Many readers learn to do this with ease. Through repeated exposure to print they figure out the letter/sound system. Some children do not make this connection between the sounds and the printed letters (phonological awareness). For them learning to read and spell is a difficult task.
How will I know if my child has difficulty with phonological awareness?
Most young children are unaware that the words they say and hear are actually made up of individual speech sounds. It isn’t until they begin to learn the alphabet and letter sounds that they develop a conscious awareness of this. Most children quickly become proficient at using the alphabet to read. Others struggle. Some signs of weak phonological awareness are:
· difficulty recognizing or producing rhymes
· difficulty segmenting words into syllables or individual sounds
· difficulty isolating initial, final or medial sounds in words
· difficulty identifying the number of syllables or sounds in words
· difficulty blending syllables or sounds to make a word
· difficulty repeating mulitsyllabic words
Research has shown that children who have difficulty rhyming or segmenting syllables by kindergarten may have more difficulty learning to read.
To read about activities that you can do at home to help your child learn to read click on the links below.