Learning to read is a long-term process during which your child goes through or will go through several stages. Some steps may be more difficult or take longer to complete. In this article, I will present the main stages of learning to read in our toddlers and the skills developed as they go along. Then, there will be the main difficulties encountered by children and ways to help your mini improve its reading skills. Reading is a long journey!
Long before learning to read, there is sound recognition. The child recognizes different sounds when speaking and manipulates them to form words. They can find words that begin with a particular sound or a word in which they hear the sound. Then there is learning the letters of the alphabet. The child has to name them, but also be able to say the sound of each one. He also becomes aware that words (oral or written) are made up of small units (phonemes, letters). A phoneme is the smallest unit of oral language1. It can correspond to the sound of a letter. For example, the letter "b" corresponds to the phoneme (or sound) "bbb" that you hear in the words "boat" or "baby". It can also be the sound corresponding to a small combination of letters, as in the examples "in", "an", "oi" or "on". Next, the child learns to merge phonemes. For example, the phonemes "b" and "a" are "ba". When children merge phonemes to identify a word, they are said to decode. He first goes through it syllable by syllable. He divides the word into syllables and often has to merge the syllables read to identify the word. Thus, he will read: "m" + "a", "ma"; "m" + "an", "man"; "ma" + "man", "maman". At this stage, reading is difficult and time-consuming. It requires a lot of effort and concentration from your child. However, it is necessary so that your child can identify each phoneme correctly. Over time, the child will develop his or her reading skills. He will be able to read more complex syllables (for example: fre, pla). In addition, frequent, familiar words with a simple structure can be identified without being decoded. The child will be able to memorize and recognize them automatically. But what else?
According to Giasson (2003), in kindergarten and early first grade, children recognize a few words present in their environment, for example, the first names of family members. They can also find words that rhyme. They are generally curious and like to be told stories. In the first cycle of primary school, children recognize several words in a global way and decode simple words. They are able to read and understand simple sentences. As your mini progresses through school, your child's reading skills, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension develop. He will have less and less need to decode words as he will identify more words and with greater speed and ease. They will also develop increasingly complex and elaborate reading strategies. They will be able to make connections; predict the rest of the story; find strategies when there is a loss of comprehension; etc. They will be able to make links; predict the rest of the story; find strategies when there is a loss of comprehension; etc. They will also be able to read with greater ease. Possible obstacles
If reading is a very important tool in everyday life, learning to read can be a problem for many people. The TA@school2 platform presents in a very complete way the main difficulties that can arise on the road to your mini. I will summarize some of them for you.
- If your child has difficulty with phonetic encoding (matching the letter and the corresponding phoneme), he or she may have difficulty with :
- recognize the shape of the letters;
- learn the sound corresponding to the letters of the alphabet;
- correctly associate the right sound with the right letter;
- decode by merging two letters;
- dividing a word into syllables.
- If the difficulties are in word recognition, the manifestations may be difficulties in :
- recognize letters and words;
- read expressively with respect to punctuation.
- Your child may have difficulty with visual processing. If this is the case, your child may complain of eye pain and may show signs of fatigue during reading tasks. He will also have difficulty with :
- recognize different letters;
- read continuously (he will skip words and lose his reading flow);
- read syllables without inverting letters;
- identify letters that are similar (e.g., b, d, p, q).
At the decoding level, it is possible that he may confuse certain phonemes. Some sounds are easier to mix. This may be due to the similarity of the letters to the written word, but also because of the way the child has to articulate to produce the sound. Here are some common examples:
- "b", "d", "p" and "q".
- "v" and "f"
- "d" and "t"
- "j" and "ch"
In my practice, I have come across several concerned parents who wondered if their child might be dyslexic because he was mixing up certain letters in reading and writing. Your mini may be confusing letters without having dyslexia. If you have concerns about this, I recommend that you consult an orthopedagogue who will be able to determine whether or not the difficulty is due to a disorder. He will also be able to guide you by giving you suggestions for intervention at home. In addition, if decoding syllables and words is difficult for your child, he or she can :
- fall into cognitive overload because the task requires a lot of energy;
- having trouble remembering what he's read;
- having difficulty reading continuously and fluently;
- having so much effort in decoding that he doesn't understand what he's read.
Some students have reading difficulties, but easily go unnoticed for a long time. They may read fluently but not understand what they are reading. These students have developed compensatory strategies and are able to locate their reading on reading assessments. However, when they need to make connections or interpret information, difficulties are more apparent. How can we help them?
Well, it can be scary! But don't worry! If you're worried about your child's reading difficulties, you can set up small activities to work on the difficulties. You can also discuss it with your child's teacher to share your concerns and get his or her point of view. If your child is receiving remedial education at school, you can also contact the intervener to find out what can be done at home to help your child. For my part, I suggest some activities that could easily be implemented at home. You could work on the recognition of the letters and the sound of each one. For example, by having your mini pick up letters (e.g. Scrabble letters, magnetic letters) and ask it to identify them. You could ask it to find words that begin or contain that letter or sound. It is also possible to hunt for letters or sounds. They can take place in the house, in the park, at the grocery store, in the car, anywhere! You ask your child to find something that begins with a particular letter or sound. This can be done in a race or by collecting points, the choice is yours! A simple way to merge letters is with magnetic letters on the fridge. It could also be by manipulating letters (Scrabble type) at the table. We place two letters side by side and ask the child to name the syllable. Start with a consonant and a vowel. Then, when your child is more comfortable, you can do the rest: consonant, consonant and vowel (for example: fle, bra). You can also ask your mini to find words that rhyme or cut words into syllables. If your child has used weekly word lists to develop vocabulary during the school year, you could use them to work on decoding speed. You could ask your child to read the words and time it and note the improvement. Reading non-words is also very interesting. It involves matching syllables to create words that don't exist. Decoding is worked on and is also very effective with children who tend to try to guess words by reading only the first few letters. Since the words do not exist, the child has no choice but to decode syllable by syllable. For children who are fluent readers, but whose comprehension is impaired, you might ask them to read a text and :
- identify important information;
- draw a picture of what he has read;
- Predict the rest of the story;
- to give his opinion of the story;
- Summarize what he or she has read.
Finally, on the platform of La CLEF.tv, Julie Provencher offers activities to read with her child. You will find suggestions that are fun and entertaining by following this link: https: //laclef.tv/series/julie/.
In my opinion, it is possible (and very important) to help your child read and to do it while having fun and that is exactly what Julie proposes with her activities. I hope that this article has helped you understand the path behind learning to read and that if your mini has difficulties, you have found some ways to help him or her. As parents, do you have any other suggestions for activities to help your child read? Resources: 1Educatout
: "https://www.educatout.com/edu-conseils/enfants-besoins-particuliers/chroniques/qu-est-ce-que-la-conscience-phonologique-et-l-importance-de-la-travailler-en-bas-age.htm" 2
Ta@school: "https://www.taalecole.ca/apprendre-au-cerveau" Giasson, J. (2003). La lecture. From theory to practice.2nd
edition. Gaëtan Morin Editor. Chenelière Éducation. Montreal.