The Simple View of Reading

You may have seen that the teaching of reading has recently been brought back into the media spotlight with various camps arguing about the key elements of reading instruction. We are not here to argue those specific approaches however we ARE about bringing the science of reading to a wider audience. So let us introduce you to the The Simple View of Reading because knowing this will empower you as parents to start your children on the path to reading success BEFORE they receive reading instruction. And no, it does not involve learning the alphabet and sight word flashcards!

Here’s this blog in audio form. We’d love to know what you think of the audio blog:

The Simple View of Reading was initially formulated by psychologists Philip Gough and William Tunmer in 1986 and it describes reading as this:

The simple view proposes that reading comprehension is the product of decoding ability (word recognition) and language understanding (oral language comprehension). This framework does not tell us how decoding happens or how language understanding develops but it is a good starting point to understand how reading works. If you want to be a strong reader, you have to be able to READ the words (decode) and UNDERSTAND the words (language comprehension). If you can’t read the words, it is hard to make sense of what you’re reading and if you can read the words but have poor language comprehension, it is still difficult to have a precise and deep understanding of the text.

So why does this matter in the years prior to school? Your child’s language abilities develop far earlier than their word reading ability. In the first few years of life, more than 1 million new neural connections are formed every second. After this period of rapid proliferation, connections are reduced through a process called pruning, so that brain circuits become more efficient.Sensory pathways like those for basic vision and hearing are the first to develop, followed by early language skills and higher cognitive functions.Your child’s language development is at the its prime learning stage in the years prior to school (between 0-6 years) and higher cognitive functions (e.g. planning, problem solving, remembering, juggling multiple tasks) that develop after this language learning phase require a strong foundation in language as well!

Image from the Centre of the Developing CHild, Harvard University

And why are YOU so important? Supportive relationships and positive learning experiences begin at home. Childrens’ brains require stable, caring, interactive relationships with adults — any way or any place they can be provided will benefit healthy brain development. Every interaction your child has with you as their trusted adult is an opportunity for them to learn!

We can’t wait to share more with you the Simple View of Reading, early brain and language development and the practical information for parents. Stay tuned!

Thanks for hearing our call,
Tania and Janice

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