Reading is a learned skill and some children will have more difficulties than others. It is important to know what to look for and recognize early on where there might be difficulties. There is a link between early speech and language skills and skills needed for learning to read. In the book Time to Talk, the authors lay out what the connection is between speech and language and learning to read and some early signs your child might be having difficulties.

Components of Reading

  • Decoding – mapping of the speech sound to the letter or combination of letters
  • Word Recognition – ability to recognize and read words accurately and quickly
  • Reading Comprehension – gaining information from the reading of the text
  • Fluency – the smoothness of the reading

Predictors of successful readingChild reading

  • Strong Early Language Skills – A broad understanding and use of early language is a predictor of later ease of learning to read. This includes vocabulary, an understanding of sentence structure, and understanding what others are saying and following simple directions. Rapidly naming objects is also thought to be similar to the skills needed to rapidly recognize words which is a skill needed for reading.
  • Home environment – A home that offers plenty of exposure to books, letters, print in general will give children early pre-reading skills that will help them when they are ready to start reading.
  • Socioeconomic status – Researchers have found that there is a literacy gap. It may be related to the fact that on average, parents with lower socioeconomic status talk to their young children less than parents from more affluent homes.

Red Flags

It is important to know when you should reach out for further help. Here are some red flags that would indicate you might need further aid:

  1. If your child was a late talker or had a speech language delay as a young child, then you should monitor closely how they are doing in the early school years.
  2. If your child has been diagnosed with speech language impairment, then they may be missing some key elements that are needed to learn to read easily. They may need ongoing support from a speech language pathologist along with a reading specialist
  3. If there is a family member who has had difficulty reading.
  4. If a 4 or 5 year old is not picking up on the letter names and sounds as they are being taught. Monitor and seek help early as needed
  5. If your child is older and is not accurately producing speech sounds. These children are at risk for having poor phonological awareness skills. These are important skills that can be predictive of reading success.
  6. If your child is in Kindergarten or Grade 1 and has difficulty with phonological awareness skills
  7. If your child is in Gr. 1 or Gr. 2 and is a slow reader or having difficulty with other components of reading.

Early intervention is important

Knowing what to look for can help you to determine when you need to seek help from other professionals. It is important to intervene early before the gap in achievement grows.