“My child doesn’t remember the words.”
That’s one of the most common problems that parents report when teaching a child to read. While it is not often discussed, there are “good” neurological reasons for this to happen. Reading, and teaching a child to read , is a relatively new skill in the development of mankind and our brains have not been “wired” to hold in mind the unusual visual information that reading presents. While this information may offer some small comfort, it is hardly sufficient. What is needed are techniques in teaching a child to read to help the children move past the problem.
Strange as it may seem, the answer rests not with reading, but with writing. Writing demands far greater attention to visual detail than does reading. For example, in reading a word such as “elephant,” a child may rely on a couple of cues such as a “long word that starts with an e.” Strategies like that simply won’t work when the goal is accurate writing.
One of the best things you can do in teaching a child to read, is to have your child accurately write words from memory. Spelling activities can be particularly useful. For example, when your child asks you how a word is spelled, instead of offering letter names (the typical response), write the word on a sheet of paper and have your child look at it. Then cover it and have your child write the word from memory. After that, point to the word and ask your child to say what it is. (Though it is often not recognized, children can often “take in” and reproduce sets of letters—without ever linking them to words. Having them say the word helps get past the difficulty.)
Join Dr. Marion next week, when she gives us tips and activities to help your kids remember words and in teaching a child to read.
Dr. Marion Blank, creator and founder of The Reading Kingdom, reading software for kids, is answering your questions about reading strategies for struggling readers. To leave a question for Dr. Marion, visit the Reading Kingdom Facebook page and let us know how we can help.