Why Don’t Children Learn to Read at the Same Time?

Sallie-Wells-headLetter from Head of School

Have you ever wondered why children don’t learn to read at the same time? The answer to this is similar to why we don’t all learn to walk at the same time. The answer is rooted within development. Each individual develops at their own unique rate. Aspects of reading are developmental and require systems to develop that allow for us to be able to read. The developmental aspects ofreading involve one’s vision and the strength of theconnectivity between the left and right hemisphere of thebrain. To read one must sweep with their eyes laterally across the page. The eyes must move laterally with ease, as the child learning to read must be able to track across the page without losing their place.

In addition to eye movement, the connectivity between the two hemispheres of the brain must be strong. Reading requires tracking across the page. Once one reaches the end of a line, one must cross mid-line and begin thenext line without losing one’s place. This requires strong brain connectivity. Certain areas of the brain decode the differing elements of reading to decipher meaning. For example:

  • The temporal lobe is responsible for phonological awareness and decoding/discriminating sounds.
  • The frontal lobe handles speech production, reading fluency, grammatical usage, and comprehension, making it possible to understand simple and complex grammar in our native language.
  • The angular and supramarginal gyrus
    serve as a “reading integrator” a conductor of sorts, linking thedifferent parts of the brain together to execute the action of reading.  These areas of  the brain connect the letters c, a, and t to the word cat that we can then read aloud.” – Source: Scientific Learning/Martha Burns, PhD
Learning to read is no small task. In addition to the aspects of reading that are developmental there is the necessity for the learning environment to be rich in language, where reading and literacy are valued and practiced. Therepetition of reading the same book over and over aids children with learning to read. The brain loves repetition, as it builds strong connectivity through repetition.
As parents and educators, we should encourage reading, model reading so that children see us valuing reading, talk to children about what they’re reading, and, of course, practice reading by reading together. In addition to all of this, it’s essential that we value the child’s own unique development, understanding that children will not all learn to read at the same time.

“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” – Margaret Fuller

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>