« Learning to read is favored by playful work at home »

If a child shows an appetite for reading before entering first grade, can parents start teaching him to read or is it better not to skip the steps?

Anne-Claudine Oller: It all depends on the age of the child, of course. At 2 years old, it is not suitable. But in large section, nothing prevents you from starting to work in a playful way on the sounds that the letters produce (phonology) then the sounds that the letters produce together (combinatorial), without necessarily trying to teach him to read. These phoneme-grapheme correspondences constitute a first step in learning to read. Knowing how to read means knowing how to decipher this code in a fluid way because fluency allows access to the meaning of what is read, from the moment the child already knows the words he is reading. In CP, the good readers are children in whom these skills have already been worked on explicitly in kindergarten or in the family sphere. All parents can do this. But we know that from a sociological point of view, families far from writing have more difficulties.

Should we also help a child who has trouble getting into reading? Do we not risk creating confusion if we move away from the method used in school?

CO : Today, all textbooks work on grapheme-phoneme correspondences but with more or less important doses. If the teacher makes little use of this syllabic deciphering, called the explicit method, the parents can compensate at home. We know that children who manage to read with non-explicit methods in first grade are those who have already acquired deciphering skills.

The work, with Sandrine Garcia, showed that learning to read was more effective with an explicit method, articulated with training, the search for a good level of fluency and reading aloud.

Can a child who has learned to read badly learn again?

CO : As a researcher, I mainly worked with children in CP and CE1. I can’t say what happens with bigger ones. The students I met, with Sandrine Garcia, had not learned to read with an explicit reading method. They made a lot of inversions or tried to guess the end of a word, which inevitably induces errors. We have worked a lot together and there has been progress. They entered reading but their level of fluency was lower than that of socially comparable children who had learned to read with an explicit method. It is therefore possible to make up for certain shortcomings, but there are still flaws.


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