Reading Requires Cognition

The Process of Learning to Read

From Sue Watson,
Your Guide to Special Education.
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When you think about it, learning to read involves many tasks. I’ve listed 10 things that come to mind that a child must do in order to read.

1. The child must hear and be able to recognize the sounds that are spoken and determine the differences between the sounds. This is often referred to as the auditory perception and the auditory processing.

2. The child will need to recognize the different sizes, shapes, position and form of the 26 letters.

3. The child will need to have a sense of directionality and hold the book with the cover first and the opening pages to the right. Directionality is also needed to read from left to right and from top to bottom.

4. The child will need to remember the sequence of the sounds and the syllables in the correct order. Notice how some children will pronounce spaghetti as bisghetti.

5. The child will need to learn that letters and combinations of letters are all associated with different sounds in speech. This entails knowing upper and lower case letters (Capital and small), cursive writing, the 2 letters that make certain sounds ‘th’ for instance, or that the two letters make 1 sounds and that certain sounds are made up of many letters as in ‘laughter’.

6. The child will need to learn that B and b are the same but P and b are different, this will occur with many letters, likewise in script, the child must note the difference between the e and the l.

7. On top of all of this decoding, the child must also derive ‘meaning’ from the words read.

8. The child must use visual and auditory skills at the same time.

9. The child will need to simply remember the many rules of letters, the silent k in knife or the silent e.

10. The child must also understand the symbolic nature and meaning of grammar (capital letters, commas, exclamation marks, quotation marks etc.

We should never take reading for granted, for many, these skills come slowly and with a great deal of difficulty. It is important to use a multi-sensory approach whenever possible, some memory training, tap into previous knowledge before moving forward and make it meaningful. Be sure to look at the suggested reading for additional support to help struggling readers.

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