When we read simple words we activate common meanings as well as less common meanings. A bug can be an insect, a spy device or something you can do to someone that is irritating. Children with rich word knowledge will encounter texts in a much different and more enriched way than children who have not encountered wider boundaries figuratively and literally of words. You bring your background with you into each story you read. Your semantic and grammatical knowledge is used to create inferences and hypotheses. These neurological operations create a beautiful interwoven path to reading and comprehending. If you cannot quickly apply semantic, grammatical and syntactic clues then comprehension becomes laborious, if not impossible. (Wolf)
Reading is not a natural occurrence. Neuronal recycling is used to create pathways in order for us to read. While visual and auditory responses are innate and mapped out by genetics, reading is not. The reading brain exploited older neuronal pathways in order to recognize words. The placid brain had several capacities that formed the pathways we now use to read. Our visual system adapted and changed in order to form new pathways to recognize letters. So, if your visual system is not functioning correctly, than how do you learn to read?
A complete comprehensive exam for every child in early elementary school would be wonderful, but is not currently in the works.
Early intervention in the classroom with direct, explicit instruction is ideal. This is why educators need to be aware of different ways to teach reading, and figure out what works best for their individual students.
See: VPD What?! for signs of visual processing disorders
See: Where do I begin? for testing inside the classroom
See: Dyslexia for signs of dyslexia
See: Reading Groups: What’s in the box? for instruction that is multi-sensory
Remember: A visual processing disorder can look like dyslexia.
This image is from the book Wiring the Brain for Reading. People ask me how I “know” all of this. I am a general education teach with no “special” skills. I READ! I read like my kids lives depend on it… because they do. I educate myself, because I am in charge of what I know, and what I choose to ignore.
This page brings light to the issue. Children need to be read to EVERY day in order to develop a vocabulary that then spills out into their everyday conversations. It is only after the words become a part of who they are that they can “see” them while reading. If you do anything for your child… read to him/her relentlessly and without reserve. ❤ This then builds a good foundation, so they come to school ready to read despite their disorders or challenges. The brain is placid, and can be changed BUT you cannot change what they have already been exposed to before they reach school. It becomes more challenging when children come with a severe language deficiency AND a disorder that they must overcome.
The picture above:
This is my Childs eye. The one who looks up to me to make good choices, and the one who depends on me everyday to meet his needs. As a teacher, I see many different sets of eyes. Every set is different. They are blue, green, hazel and brown. What most teachers fail to see is that some of them are looking, but they are not “seeing”. They tell them to look harder, try harder and do better thus, killing their passion for knowledge and understanding in a world that chooses to turn their blind eye. I am responsible for these children, and it is my job to educate myself on how to reach them. I read like their lives depend on it… I read and research like I would for my own child. I advocate for the kids in every room who are told they can do more. I challenge myself to provide the life-changing support they so desperately need.