For fluent readers, reading seems almost instinctual. Words are instantly recognized, stories come alive easily. However, for those just learning how to read it is a complex process that is anything but automatic. So what is reading?
The process of reading involves many visual and mental processes. In order to read and understand, students need a variety of different skills. These skills begin at the most basic level with associating letter symbols with sounds.
Next, readers must recognize or decode whole words and understand the meaning of the words within a sentence. Readers must then string words together to understand a complete sentence within the larger context of a paragraph. All of these processes occur at the same time and understanding can break down at any point in the process.
Many factors can contribute to reading problems, including lack of background knowledge, phonics issues, trouble with comprehension, vision problems, processing delays, lack of vocabulary, limited sight word vocabulary, among others. The more parents and educators understand the complexity of reading, the more adept we are at targeting our support to teach children to read.
By Joanna Brown, Reading Specialist