Well, a virus grabbed hold of our household and held on tight!  We were all sick from Thursday until yesterday.  I'm glad that's over!

Reading is an area that most speech therapists don't treat.  We know a lot about language, which is an aspect of reading.  As of late, I've been doing quite a bit of research on reading comprehension.  I've come up with my "reading tree" diagram of what is needed for reading comprehension.  Below is an explanation of each aspect.  If your child is struggling with reading, consider these individual skills and see where your child is lacking.  

Phonemic Awareness:  A phoneme is an individual sound in our language.  It is NOT a letter (that is a grapheme).  Phonemic Awareness is the ability to identify and manipulate sounds in words.  For example, you might be asked to blend phonemes into words (t-r-ee = tree), segment phonemes (cup = k-u-p), delete phonemes ("cow" - /k/ sound = ow), or change phonemes ("fan", change a for u = "fun").  This is a subset within phonologic awareness.

Phonologic Awareness:  Phonologic awareness is the ability to identify and manipulate phonemes at different levels:  syllables, onsets (which letters can be clustered, etc), rhyming, and phonemes (phonemic awareness).  A child may be asked to blend syllables into words, break words into syllables, delete syllables form words, exchange syllables to create new words, or name rhyming words.

Fluency:  Reading fluency refers to reading syllables, words, sentences, and paragraphs smoothly.  It is a skill to be able to read whole chunks of text without breaking.  When breaking occurs often, then it prolongs the idea that is being read and may negatively affect comprehension.  Just because someone can read fluently, does NOT mean he/she is comprehending (understanding) the text. 

Schema:  While in undergraduate studies, schema were always referred to as our "boxes" in our heads that helped to organize information.  I can't remember which philosopher came up with the idea, but its still something that I "picture" whenever I see the word schema.  Your schema is the understanding you have of the world.  When you are young and you are building your schema "boxes", you might have four boxes:  food, toys, people, and animals.  As you grow older your food "box" might start to consist of other "boxes": vegetables, fruits, meats, breads, sweets, etc.  A child's understanding of his world will help him understand and access the text he/she is reading.

Vocabulary:  One can not possibly understand what he/she is reading unless you know the meanings of the words.  And we thought vocabulary tests were there just to torture us in school! :o)  Before a child can read, his/her oral vocabulary needs to continually be built upon.  This is why I have stressed that narrating your life and talking to your child and READING to your child is so important.  Give him/her access to as much language as possible.

Reading Comprehension:  You are successfully comprehending when you are reading and understanding the text.  If you can picture what is happening in your mind, learn new information through reading, answer questions, or engage in a discussion about what has been read.

Happy Reading!!!


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