Acquiring A Reading Brain
Ten Ways For Kids To Become Natural Readers
Too many children need after-school programs for reading. Getting a reading brain, being a natural reader, is one of the most complex skills we learn in our lifetime.
Children need to practice reading. But that will not occur if the fundamental reading skills are not in place. Science also shows us that the brain can change and learn at any age and, in effect, be rewired to be a reading brain.
Here are 10 steps to help your school-age child develop a reading brain:
• Phonemic awareness – this skill is delayed in 90% of struggling readers. A great way to practice this skill is with rhyming — short poems or simple word games that require matching sounds.
• Fluency – automatic decoding. Part of this skill is word recognition, which can be helped by having your child read along with you when you read to him.
• Vocabulary – take every opportunity to build your child’s vocabulary. Encourage use of a dictionary, and help your child figure out unknown words by using context.
• Phonics – this another fundamental reading brain skill. It comes down to language familiarity, and so word games, letter sound matching, rhyming are all helpful. For older children, counting the number of syllables in a word is helpful.
• Comprehension – discuss books with your child to help them think about what they have read, to help them develop sound reading comprehension skills.
• Focus - help your child practice sustained attention by setting time goals around projects that can expand over time. Help your child develop good study habits, such as working in a quiet room, to further build attention skills.
• Processing – this is the essential phonics skill, the ability to process every sound in every word. Listening games that connect words to sounds can be helpful.
• Working Memory – concentration and other matching games are helpful, as well as encouraging your child to relate stories.
• Sequencing – this skill impacts spelling and comprehension. Picture books are helpful as a way of seeing a story unfold, that later can be pictures in the mind. For spelling, unscrambling letter tiles is a helpful exercise.
The final thing that parents and teachers can do is to be vigilant, and recognize as early as possible if there is a problem that requires attention. Fast ForWord is one such research based reading intervention that targets most of the above aspects of reading, as well as rewiring the cognitive skills needed for a reading brain to develop.