### CHECK AND TEST

Reena Ryall proposes a few ways to know whether a chid has adequate skills needed for reading.

Do you know if your child has a reading difficulty? Do you have any idea how much of reading your child can do? If your child cannot name the letters on the board in class, or in the book or appears to be guessing, it s time to look into the situation before it reaches a stage where the child can’t write due to difficulty in knowing the spelling of the word. Yes, reading is connected to spelling, spelling is connected to writing, and everything begins at play school and kindergarten, where fun activities like naming pictures and sorting blocks are the foundation for literary skills in every child.

Keeping theory aside, below are some activities you could do, as a teacher and parent, to see if your child has adequate skills needed for reading, and if the child cannot do these activities spontaneously and accurately, begin teaching and training the child in each, systematically.

The main areas that help identify a reading difficulty are; alphabet knowledge, phonological knowledge, word reading, and comprehension. Ask the child to do the following activities to know if your child is developing skills needed for reading.

Alphabet knowledge

* Point to a letter at random and ask the child to name the letter
* Ask the child to locate the same letter in any other book or text
*n Pointing to a letter ask the child to tell you what sound the letter makes
* Ask the child for any word that begins with the sound of the letter
* Give the child a letter dictation, allowing him/her to write each letter as you call out. For children who have been taught capitals as well as small letters can write in both.

Phonological knowledge

*Show pictures and ask the child what the starting sound of the object is. You may give examples and show the child how to do it, eg. ball = /b/, light = /l/
* Ask the child what the ending sound of the object is, eg. bag = /g/
* Ask the child to segment words, eg. pillow = pil/low, carry =car/ry, yellow = yel/low
* Ask the child to blend sounds into words, eg. ask the child to join /t/ and /ap/  to say tap. You may ask words of higher difficulty if the child is older.

* Show cards with isolated words on it and ask the child to name the words, eg. in, up, me, say, look, red, the etc. If the child can read simple words give the child words that have been taught in class, eg. names of animals, parts of the body, names of fruits etc.

Comprehension

* Show the child a picture and ask the child questions like, “What is this picture about? What are the children doing? What do you think they are saying? and Why did this happen?”

While observing the responses of the child, you need to make note of whether the responses of the child are correct and automatic, partly correct, hesitant, incorrect, tries to self correct and guess, or absolutely there is no response. For the activities that the child cannot do, the child will need learning support, and individual time with focussed practice on skills that are not automatic. A person trained in reading difficulties will be able to assess the child and develop a plan to establish reading in appropriation to the child’s age and stage. There is adequate research to show that children who lag behind in reading rarely catch up. Early identification is the only way.

(The writer is a special educator for learning disabilities)