The Science of Reading

Reading difficulty is one of the most common reasons families seek additional  guidance and assistance with their child’s education. Issues like dyslexia and/or struggles with focus can make reading tough, but with the right intervention plan and supportive reading therapists, students can actually develop a passion for reading! Improvement to your students’ reading skills yields  benefits that can change the course of their lives.

Since reading is a fundamental gateway to learning any number of subjects, it often opens or closes opportunities for the future. What’s really amazing is that the act of reading (that is, simply taking in words on a page and turning those words into images in the mind) has an astonishing impact on brain development.

Reading helps develop the more obvious parts of the brain, like those responsible for vocabulary and language development. But reading also improves less expected brain functions, like concentration, memory and emotional processing. Research from Carnegie Mellon University shows that those parts of the brain that “light up” in scans when kids read will remain engaged for several days. In the long term, it allows kids to process information faster and more efficiently.

Reading on a regular basis physically changes kids’ brains, too. When kids read, they are building brain tissue called white matter. White matter is the connective tissue that forges networks between all the parts of the brain where different information and feelings are processed. Simply reading stories on a regular basis creates more neural pathways in a child’s brain, and improves just about every other brain function.

The more developed a child’s reading skills become, the greater their capacity to learn.  It’s a snowball effect that all starts with qualified reading intervention.

Much of Trinity School’s reading therapy program employs methods that use the brain interconnectivity forged by reading as a jumping-off point for kids who struggle with reading.

“We tap into the different sensory parts of the brain when helping kids, specifically those with dyslexia. Kids with dyslexia tend to have amazing spatial reasoning and can process and respond to motion quickly. That’s why many dyslexic kids are athletic. In effect, we work backward from there, by engaging all the senses first in our lessons,” says Trinity Reading Therapist Shelli Thomas.

So how can you tap into the power of reading with your own kids, or with any young student? Often, it’s a new subject or interest in a specific topic that helps them appreciate reading. Thomas says it was her love of horses that inspired her to read as a child.

For younger kids, picture books are a great start! Images act as context clues for kids as they begin reading, and they help hook kids’ interests. If kids are new enough to reading that parents must read to them, you can help build connections for your kids by asking them lots of questions. Talk to them about the characters, ask what they think about the plot points, and let them explore ideas as you proceed through a story.

Always encourage your children to read more, and a great way to do that is to read with them. The best piece of advice we can leave parents with is to let your children lead you, in everything from the pace at which they read, to the subjects they enjoy. You’re just there to help your kids tap into their inner avid reader!