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To your health: Helping children learn to read and write

Update: October, 17/2016 - 09:00
Speech Therapist Tiphaine de Torcy.—VNS Photo Đoàn Tùng
Viet Nam News

 

By Speech Therapist Tiphaine de Torcy

The study of reading and writing

Learning to read and write is an obligatory rite of passage at school. But is it easy?

Doing anything for the first time is challenging : driving, cooking a complicated dish, working for a new company. Learning stages must be respected. Steps can’t be skipped. Concentration, motivation and flexibility are necessary.

What exactly does it mean to read a word?

From a written trace, it is necessary to link a suite of sounds and to make sense of them. Other skills needed to read a word include: good vision, visual attention to reading the word in its entirety, understanding the principle of associating letters with sounds, regrouping letters to make a whole, and the ability to define this word in terms of the reader’s personal lexicon to make sense of it.

What exactly does it mean to write a word?

From an auditive trace, it is necessary to produce a written trace. Skills needed to write a word include: good hearing, remembering the word long enough to write it, good visual and spatial attention to writing the word at a good place on the page, breaking up the word in order to write each letter, and the mental flexibility to check if the word is written correctly. 

What a challenge for a child! 

Written language training requires a lot of skills: visual, auditory, memory, flexibility, attention, mental handling of sounds and syllables, ability to compose and break up a word, a lexicon, and self-confidence. 

How can I help my child learn?

To learn how to read and write, four things are necessary: a method adapted to the needs of the individual learner, time, repetition and fun. Thanks to these four elements, the child’s language training will have lasting effects.

Method: A method provides rules for the child. The child will make errors. Fortunately! Through its errors, the child learns how to generalize the rule. The child must also learn how to identify its own errors and correct them. This is how a child becomes an autonomous learner.

For example, if a word isn’t written correctly, you can just ask your child how many errors there are, without showing them the mistakes. The child must then identify and correct its own mistakes.

Time: Learning to read and write takes time. Some children learn faster than others. It is important to respect the individual rhythm of each learner. If your child is finding homework to be tedious or difficult, you can draw up a contract with your child. For example, your child can do an activity it likes before or after doing homework, and you can define a limited amount of time to work together. Establishing a routine makes it possible for a child to anticipate what’s coming and to get organized. 

Pleasure and motivation: Reading and the writing should not be restricted to school exercises. Read stories with your children, play little games where reading and writing are necessary, read cooking recipes and game instructions, write letters. Such shared moments show children that one reads and writes daily. This will motivate your child to want to learn more. You can recommend books to your child, but you can also let children discover and choose what to read. No one learns without being motivated.

Varied repetition: Repetition is needed during all training sessions. If a child reads or writes a word correctly once, it doesn’t mean the child knows the word. Children need to meet a word many times to integrate it into their personal lexicons. A word must be repeated and used in various contexts for children to generalize and retain it. Play with the word: color a difficult spelling, spell the word, count the syllables, say its meaning,  look for synonyms.

Difficulties with written language 

Despite motivation, time, and a teaching method adapted to an individual learner’s needs, written language is sometimes very hard for certain children to grasp. Such children need to understand what does not work. They also need to be understood and to be helped.

A child who works too slowly, does not enjoy reading or writing, and makes many errors may suffer from a written language delay or disorder.

Ask for professional advice

If your child is having trouble learning to read and write, a speech therapist can help you.

Sometimes an assessment alone is enough. The speech therapist advises and reassures you. The child feels understood, more trusting and may improve spontaneously, without further intervention.

Sometimes therapy is recommended to help your child. If so, the speech therapist will explain the type and frequency of the sessions, the challenges involved, and the purpose of the therapeutic work to be undertaken. 

Written language is a difficult and important challenge, both for school and for personal growth. Stack the odds in your child’s favor. — Tiphaine de Torcy

 

***

Tiphaine de Torcy is a speech therapist trained in France. Before coming to Vietnam, she worked in private clinics and in specialized establishments for deaf children in Martinique, France and in China. She currently works at Family Medical Practice Hanoi, where she provides assessments and facilitates rehabilitation for children, teenagers and adults in the fields of voice, speech, language, communication and learning.

For more information or medical advice, please contact Family Medical Practice Hanoi at: hanoi@vietnammedicalpractice.com.

 

 

 

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