The skill your child must have to learn to read

What does your child do when they read and come across a word they don’t know?  Do they look at the picture or the first letter and guess what the word might be?  Then keep reading to find out the most important tool they must have in their reading toolbox to become a skilled reader…it’s not guessing.

Children are not wired to learn to read the multitude of different spellings for the sounds in the English language.  They need EFFECTIVE literacy instruction in their early schooling years to become skilled readers.Connections in brain

Without the literacy instruction that research has proven to work children can struggle to learn to read.  Combine this with the “let’s give them some more time” recommendation that is often suggested and it’s a recipe for disaster.  It creates a child who not only struggles to read but also lacks self confidence and motivation and is at risk for lifelong social and economic difficulties.

When children are taught to read the right way they are set up for success!  They go on to become skilled, fluent readers bursting with confidence in their abilities and they have far greater learning, employment and earning opportunities.

We are fed up with children being taught to read in a way that creates struggling readers.  Teaching children to use pictures, other words in the sentence or the first letter to guess an unknown word will NOT make them a skilled reader.

Think about this for a moment.  What happens when they’re expected to read more challenging books? The ones with no pictures and with more complex words and sentences.  Suddenly they have no tools left to use and they’re trying to build their literacy house on a shaky foundation.

So, here’s the one tool your child must have to become a skilled reader who is able to tackle unknown words with ease.

They must be able to decode words.

magnetic lettersThis means they use the letters in the word to work out what it says.  To do this they will:

  1. Pay close attention to the sequence of letters in a word
  2. Know the letters and letter combinations and their corresponding sounds
  3. Apply the ‘rules’ such as what ‘e’ at the end of the word does to other sounds in the word

Sounds fairly simple right?  But did you know there are about 250 different ways to spell all the sounds in English?  Not so simple after all.  Children are not naturally wired to learn to decode as they are with talking.  They won’t simply learn it by being read to at home.  They won’t learn it by rote learning 100 or more “sight words”.  They won’t learn it by being told to look at the first letter and the picture and guess.  They learn to make sense of this complex alphabetic code we use to read through an approach called systematic phonics.  It’s a structured way of explicitly teaching children the letters and sounds that words are made of and how to blend them together to read the words.  It is critical they are taught this.  Without the ability to decode children will not become a skilled readers.

So, if your child is struggling to learn to read you need to get help from a qualified professional who sees children with literacy difficulties and does systematic phonics on a daily basis.  The Speech Pathologists at Talk Play Grow certainly do.  Call us on 9653 9955 or email to find out more about how we can help your child become a skilled and fluent reader.

Here more about decoding from our Clinical Director in this video