My child is struggling with reading skills and you want me to check his ears? Many parents know that vision is important, but hearing is just as essential to a child’s developing reading skills. A child can appear to hear just fine and still have a specific processing skill weakness that will affect his ability to decode words when reading.
Clearly hearing and identifying the differences among spoken sounds is a key component in a child’s reading development. Young readers need to have an understanding of the differences among sounds, for example hearing /a/ and /i/ as distinct vowel sounds, both in isolation and within words.
Children who suffer from frequent ear infections or hearing loss might have a particularly difficult time in identifying different sounds in speech. Some children may also have difficulties with auditory processing, and may not be able to effectively connect the sounds and words they hear with meaning. In addition, they may have difficulty listening to and remembering information that is given orally.
Be sure to check with your doctor if you notice any of these behaviors in your child to help avoid academic problems. Children with hearing challenges will most likely require extra practice with language sounds, but all children can benefit from targeted practice.
The more you can help your child strengthen his or her auditory skills, the stronger her auditory skill base will be when reading. Auditory skills can be fostered in your child when you:
- Teach and repeat songs, poems, stories and rhymes
- Clearly pronounce and differentiate letter-sounds
- Incorporate new words into your conversations
- Introduce your child to interactive activities that have a sound component either on your computer (like Red Apple Reading), or through other audio media
There are a great many factors that affect a child’s ability to develop reading skills proficiently – this is just one more facet to keep in mind as you and your child venture into the wonderful world of reading.
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