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How the Brain Learns to Read According to the Science of Reading

As researchers and scientists learn more about brain function, we are able to provide reason to the way we learn to read. Wondering how all this happens? Read this post to learn about the Science of Reading and its connection to the brain.

How Does the Brain Process Reading?

Although there is not one specific place in the brain where reading happens, there are clear patterns that have emerged! You can literally see the different parts of a brain light up on an MRI when presented with stimuli. Research shows that students who are struggling in reading may have different parts of their brain activate at different times. Together, they have tracks that act as highways for learning.  

Temporal Lobe

In the temporal lobe, we have our language comprehension. This lobe is responsible for phonological awareness and meaning with language. This is where our brain gives meaning to words.

Occipital Lobe

The occipital lobe focuses on letter and word recognition. This, along with the back of the temporal lobe, is where we store meaning and the appearance of words. This is the home of automaticity and fluency when it comes to reading.

Parietal Lobe

This is the home for word analysis and sound-symbol connection.  This lobe, along with the upper, back part of the temporal, is where we break down words into sounds. This is the home for sounding out words!

Frontal Lobe

Here is where speech sounds live, both input and output. This is the area that allows people to speak. 

Can We Rewire the Brain?

As you read this, are you thinking about a student you have that is struggling? Yes- rewiring is possible through targeted and intensive instruction.

How Do We Learn About Students’ Profiles?

Students can undergo Cognitive, Educational, and Psychological testing to learn more about their profiles. In specific, educators look at skills that can impact a students’ reading acquisition, like fluid reasoning and working memory. Both of these skills can impact the speed and accuracy in a child’s reading. 

5 Strategies to Lessen the Cognitive Load

When we lessen the cognitive load, we have more room for processing new information! Read below for strategies regarding cognitive load in relation to Science of Reading.

1. Provide Nearpoint References

Get out those letter strips and Sound Wall visuals! Science shows that when students have access to visuals, they reduce their cognitive load and are able to focus on the specific task at hand. 

2. Warm Ups!

No matter the task, when we provide students with a sneak peak about the focus of their learning, we refresh their memory. Just like when we exercise, a warm up prepares our bodies and brains for the task at hand. 

3. Identify the Main Goal

When students are asked to write, they involve many skills! Think about it: they need to know orientation to the page, letter formation, visual/spatial skills, and sound-symbol correspondence. This is without even having an idea! That includes executive functioning and organizational skills. When you know the target goal, you can take away the stress of the other skills to help reduce the cognitive load. 

4. Preview Unknown, Irregular Words

When we preview something that does not follow the rules, students can feel more confident as they read and harness all their attention to the decodable words. Now following Structured Literacy, students are learning specific rules that follow the English language. How frustrating must it be to come to irregular words they have not learned!

5. Spiral Previously Mastered Skills

We want to continuously review mastered skills for two reasons- one is to be sure it is still in our memory, but also because it reduces the cognitive load for students!

In closing, we hope you found this information about how the brain learns to read helpful! If you did, then you may also be interested in these posts:

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