I have no memory of learning to read. According to my mother, I picked up a book and started reading it at the age of 3, without any direct instruction. I know she read to me every night before bed, even after I could read by myself, and sometimes I would read to her, but no one ever taught me how to read.
Unfortunately, my experience is not the norm. For most people, reading is not something that just happens on its own. So, what is it, and how do people learn how to do it?
It might be helpful to start with what reading is not. Unlike speech, reading is not a natural process in our brains. Most children will begin to speak on their own, as long as they are spoken to, but most children, unlike me, will not begin reading without explicit instruction. There’s nothing in our biology that tells us we must read to survive, and our brains don’t really have a designated area for reading, like they do for speech and language.
Reading, then, is something that must be learned. It is a systematic process that includes sounds and letters, and the understanding that those sounds and letters are related to each other. Each letter represents one or more sounds, and the sounds combine to form words that represent ideas. Those words combine to form sentences, paragraphs, essays, articles, books, etc., and allow us to communicate across space and time. So really, reading is a form of time travel.
In a nutshell, reading is a very complicated process that most children have be taught how to do. The good news is that we know how to teach it. The bad news is that a lot of schools either don’t know or choose to ignore the research about reading. That’s where I come in.
My hope with this blog is to provide the information you need to prepare your child for learning to read, no matter what the schools do. There are some fundamental skills we all need to have before we can be successful readers, and these skills can easily be taught at home. That way, when your child enters kindergarten, their brain will already have the foundation in place to build on, and there’s a much greater chance they won’t fall behind in reading.
So come on this reading journey with me and let me help you teach your child the skills they need to become a reader!