|What mystifies many parents is where and why the reading process breaks down. Although breakdowns may occur in any area (i.e., decoding, comprehension, or retention) of reading, many experts believe decoding is the root of most reading difficulties.
Decoding is the process by which a word is broken into individual phonemes (i.e., language sounds) and recognized based on those phonemes. For instance, effective decoders separate the sounds /c/, /a/, and /t/ in the word “cat.” Someone who has difficulty decoding, and thus difficulty reading easily, may not hear and differentiate these phonemes. /c/, /a/, and /t/ might be meaningless to them in relation to the word “cat” on the page.
Experts have no one explanation for this phenomenon. In some cases, it may reflect that some people simply require more time to separate sounds – time that isn’t available.
Signs of decoding difficulty:
Comprehension relies on mastery of decoding; children who struggle to decode find it difficult to understand and remember what has been read. Because their efforts to grasp individual words are so exhausting, they have no resources left for understanding.
Signs of comprehension difficulty:
Retention requires both decoding and comprehending what is written. This task relies on high level cognitive skills, including memory and the ability to group and retrieve related ideas. As students progress through grade levels, they are expected to retain more and more of what they read. From third grade on, reading to learn is central to classroom work. By high school it is an essential task.
Signs of retention difficulty:
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