kids holding hands jumping graphic

What We Know About Learning To Read

By Fargo Public Schools MTSS-A Coordinator Jen Sahr

Do you remember doing the Hokey Pokey in your early years and clapping out the syllables, “that’s what it’s all about?” You may have thought it was just a game, but in fact you were building one of the most important skills for reading – phonological awareness.

teacher reading with two studentsPeople often think that reading begins with learning letters and sounds. However, most young children are getting ready to read long before they learn that letters stand for sounds. Phonological awareness is a skill that allows children to recognize and work with sounds of spoken language. It includes picking out rhyming words, clapping syllables in names, and noticing how sounds repeat themselves (alliteration). As phonological awareness progresses from noticing to doing, children are able to create rhymes, break words into syllables by listening, and isolate individual sounds in words.

The most sophisticated group of skills within phonological awareness is phonemic awareness and it is the latest to develop. These skills let kids tune into individual sounds (phonemes) in a word, separate a word into the sounds that make it up and blend single sounds into words, and add, subtract, or substitute new sounds in words.

Many people who are dyslexic struggled in their early years with the skills related to the development of phonological and phonemic awareness. Their brains have difficulty recognizing or processing matching letter sounds and symbols and blending them to make words.

For others who are dyslexic, they may not have any trouble decoding words, but they may struggle to understand what they read. In either case, these people must exude a tremendous amount of effort to read and still will demonstrate difficulty to read in an automatic or fluent way.

The Reading Support Continuum Work Group has been researching, learning, and studying these processes and barriers for the past three years. Through their work, there are resources now available district-wide for intervention. Learn more about their findings, the warning signs, and the pilot in this video, or this Teacher Resource, which is referenced in the video.

Teaching children to read is a challenging responsibility. Fulfilling this responsibility requires knowledge of effective instructional and intervention practices. The work group is continuing to work on the other essential components of reading: phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension so that teachers have a thorough understanding of instructional strategies and materials proven to be effective…

‘Cause that’s what it’s all about!