Reading is a fundamental skill that all children are expected to be able to do. It supports learning, navigating the world (reading signs, shop names, packaging), and is considered an essential skill. It is not something that comes naturally. For many children learning to read can be hard for a number of reasons. Difficulty with reading in our current system can have long lasting impacts on a child’s desire to learn and their self-esteem.
But what does reading entail? It involves all regions of the brain working together, including complex integration of sensory inputs. In order to transform the visual image on the page into meaningful information, all regions of the brain need to work together. It requires complex integration of sensory input with current knowledge.
Some of these processes include:
> Visual system: to be able to see the words on the page, recognise the different shapes that make up letters, and control our eye movements so that letters and words are not skipped over.
> Language comprehension: to be able to recognise and assign meaning to the words that are being read, to link the words meaningfully together and critically evaluate and interpret the content.
> Ability to recognise and follow the sequence of letters to make words, and words to make sentences.
> Memory: to remember the letters and sounds they make, recall familiar words and vocabulary.
> Attention: to pay attention to what has been read and so create a narrative to follow.
> Emotional awareness: to understand and relate to characters in stories and connect the information read to personal experiences.
Issues with reading can be based on one or more of these elements. Additionally, challenges with reading can indicate wider issues relating to Dyslexia and other learning difficulties.
If your child dislikes reading, start by reducing the pressure on them and create opportunities to regularly read to your child as this can help them to enjoy the process of reading.
Some things for parents to look out for that may indicate the need for further support include:
• Frustration or avoidance of reading activities
• Frequently ‘guessing’ words as they read along
• Long pauses as they attempt to sound out words
• Skipping words or sentences as they read aloud
• Being unable to recall what they just read
If you think your child requires further support with their reading or have any questions, contact our friendly team of Occupational Therapists who can assess and help you understand your child’s difficulties.
Author: Caitlin Venn