How do we learn to read? It isn’t as simple as you might think. In a recent article, Sabra Gelfond, Speech-Language Pathologist and Executive Director of the National Speech / Language Therapy Center, compared the way we learn to read to the way a house is built. There are four major steps to both, she points out, and in both home-building and brain-building, laying a strong foundation is critical.
Learn to Read: Building Readers, Step by Step
Ms. Gelfond says “You can compare the process of learning to read to building a house. A well-built structure requires a strong foundation or the underlying weakness will cause problems over time. The same is true in “building” a better reader. Without the right foundational skills, learning to read can be very difficult. For some children reading comes easily because underlying skills develop properly, but for the children with weak skills, reading difficulties become evident as early as grades 1-3 and can remain for life. Foundational skills are critical for your child’s reading development.”
She goes on to outline the four steps, which are:
1. Laying the foundation with sound awareness, or phonemic awareness.
2. Raising the structure, by combining sounds, which involves blending and coding / decoding (this is typically referred to as “phonics.”)
3. Finish the house, or allow phonics to become automatic, with practice and refinement.
4. Enjoy the finished home, by developing comprehension skills.
Learn to Read: Foundational Skills
But what if your child did not learn to read because one or more of these steps was too difficult to master? Very often, students who do not learn to read have had trouble laying the foundation with sound awareness and phonics. Many tutoring programs focus on repeating these steps, but with many children who struggle to read, the problem is not a lack of exposure to phonics, or poor teaching methods. Usually, it’s a lack of ability to understand phonemes, or an inability to match sounds to the words on the page. These types of problems cannot be fixed by repetition or re-teaching. The problem must be attacked at its source – the child’s cognitive skills are most likely weak and need to be strengthened before progress can be made.
Auditory processing is the main cognitive skill that affects a person’s ability to learn to read. That skill, along with others that support and supplement reading (like memory, attention, and so forth) can be trained and strengthened with brain training. This is what the LearningRx program does. Once the cognitive skills are strong, the foundation can be built, and the child begins to “get” what they read. In fact, many of our students have enjoyed a book for the first time after going through our program, which is very exciting!
For more about how LearningRx can help you or your child learn to read, please visit us at our LearningRx brain training website.