How children learn to read…it’s all in the head, really

How children learn to read does depend on their socioeconomic
surroundings, and other factors. But mostly, it is about a region in the
brain called the ‘white matter’ says researcher Fumiko Hoeft, a cognitive neuroscientist and psychiatrist currently at the University of California, San Francisco.

The home environment, the school environment, the kind of reading instruction they’re getting between kindergarten and grade 3 is what decides how this white matter develops, she says.

“That might mean that, in the earliest stages, we need to pay attention
to that executive function,” she says. “We need to start not just
giving flashcards, letters, and sounds the way we now do, but,
especially if we know someone might be a problem reader, look at these
other skills, at cognitive control and self-regulation.” Being a better
reader, in other words, may ultimately involve instruction around things
other than reading.
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