How do children learn to read?
Most children start to read by learning to recognise whole words (cat, me, the). However, soon they are encountering so many complex words that they cannot memorise them all.
At this stage, they need to develop decoding skills, so they can ‘sound out’ unfamiliar words they encounter. To be able to decode words, a child needs to understand that:
Spoken conversation can be broken up into words, and words can be broken up into syllables and sounds
The written letters on a page represent spoken words
Each letter (or group of letters) represents a sound (or several sounds). For example, the letter c can make a k sound (as in cat) or a s sound (as in city), and the letters ow can make several sounds (as in how and low)
Sounds can be blended together to make words
Often there are rules that tell us which sound a letter will make (for example, the letter c says s when followed by the letters e, i or y)
Many children pick up these skills easily, either by themselves or with some help at school. However, some children (some research suggests up to 30%) need to be carefully taught these skills.
Knowing about sounds is important for reading
Phonological awareness, or knowing that words are made up of sounds and syllables, is an important skill for beginning readers.
Many of the children who struggle to acquire reading skills have difficulties with phonological awareness skills such as:
- Identifying rhyming words
- Perceiving the difference between similar sounds (for example, m and n) Identifying the first sound in a word
- Remembering the sequence of sounds in a word
- Blending sounds together to form words
- Breaking words into syllables
|We help children who are having difficulties reading words accurately. The Centre’s Speech Pathologists are trained in several effective phonological awareness and literacy programs, including Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing and the Spalding Method
To understand written text, a reader needs to be able to:
Read the words accurately and fluently
Remember what has been read
punctuation markers, such as full-stops and question marks
what each word means, and be able to figure out the meaning of any unfamiliar words
how sentences are constructed
differences in types of text (for example, a fairy tale is constructed in a different way to a newspaper article)
- Use higher-order thinking skills to: understand the main ideas, make accurate inferences and predictions, and evaluate the information.
One of the programs we use at the Centre to develop reading comprehension skills is Visualising and Verbalising. We also use computer-based programs such as Reading Doctor and Fast ForWord.
Contact us for more information about how we help with reading accuracy and reading comprehension difficulties.