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Reading! (Chapter 2)

Parents are singing, “It’s the most won-der-ful time of the yeeeeaaar!”

Yes, indeed it is for many of us with older school-aged kids. But for those with younger children, the first day of JK or SK may feel a bit different. Kind of bittersweet, as we watch them waddle into school trying to stay upright with their oversized backpacks. They were babies just yesterday!

While it’s impossible to not worry at all about how our kids will do in school, we can rest assured we’ve done our best to set them up for success. Last month, I discussed some of the broad, fundamental speech, language and literacy skills we help teach our children from birth.

Hopefully the message was clear that exposure to speech and reading develops “phonological awareness”: the ability to perceive the various speech patterns associated with a particular language. To many, the connection between speech sounds and reading isn’t obvious. But to your Friendly Neighborhood Speech Pathologist, it is a fact that children with this skill – and another skill, discussed below – pick up reading faster and easier than those without it. And I’d like to be clear that I am referring to children who can hear clearly.

“Phonological processing” is the other skill that needs to develop. Simply put, it is how we can play with speech sounds. Creating rhyming words, putting sounds together, taking them apart, adding sounds to words, or taking sounds away are all examples of this skill. Although all children will get to practice doing these things in the classroom, building this skill should be part of their exposure to literacy long before they get to JK.

But even if the focus has been the simple joy of snuggling up with dad and a favourite book, that’s totally OK! That, in itself, carries a huge benefit: an interest in books and reading. And so long as kids are interested in reading, they are likely to be motivated to quickly pick up the skills they need to read. And if they don’t do that as fast as they want to, we’re always here to help!


Mohamed (Mo) Oshalla, MHSc.,
Speech-Language Pathologist & Executive Director,
Ontario Speech & Language Services


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