Learning to Read – Typical Right-Brained Traits

TIMEFRAME. The right-brained child is ready to BEGIN to learn to read between the ages of 8-10 years. This is when their brain is ready to shift from three-dimensional pictorial processing to include two-dimensional symbolic processing.

NOT DUMBED DOWN. The right-brained child enjoys reading “real” material of substance and/or with a substantive storyline. Graded readers, phonetic readers, or even sometimes Dr. Seuss type of material is not tolerated.

MEANINGFUL. The right-brained child wants to learn to read by reading.Learning with actual books or with programs that simulate this is best. Programs with a bunch of bells and whistles, separated out from real, meaningful stories, will be confusing and ineffective.

PICTORIAL. The right-brained child is focused on the pictorial before the ages of 8-10 years in order to build a library of pictorial images. The more they accumulate, the easier it will be for them to find a corresponding image that will be an appropriate translation during their reading process. This need to be surrounded by a visual world should be valued in order to equip this learner with their best tool to reading.

VISUALIZATION. The right-brained child develops important visualization skills tantamount to his ability to read by listening to read alouds or audio books. These learners think in pictures, so every word will be turned into a picture during the reading process. This ability to visualize will make or break comprehension and enjoyment of reading. Because of this trait, they are “skim readers” who glide across the top of words enough to “catch the visual”. This makes them better silent readers.

“HARD” BIG WORDS BEFORE “EASY” LITTLE WORDS. The right-brained child will be reading large, visual words before little, non-visual ones (particularly those Dolch words such as the, of, has, etc.). In fact, these little words will come in last, at the end of the pre-fluency stage of reading (around 9-11 years of age).

WHOLE TO PART. The right-brained child is a global, big picture person, so they see the whole before breaking down to parts. Therefore, a sight word based learning method is best on the front end, following during pre-fluency with some general phonics information.

WATCH, THEN DO. The right-brained child doesn’t like to fail, so they watch others doing what they want to do. Listening to read alouds, audio books, and hearing books re-read help them feel comfortable attempting the reading process.

CONTEXT. The right-brained child reads by context because everything is being translated to a picture. In the early stages of learning to read, they may skip a third of what they read because all they need is enough to “catch the visual”. Sometimes, you will note that they appear to “guess” at words, but it is because they are trying to read by context as well as knowledge. If their visualization skills are working and they are concentrating on comprehension and not semantics, these “mistakes” will correct themselves through context and practice.

PRE-FLUENCY. Between the time a right-brained child begins to read and becomes fluent is a “working out the kinks” time period that needs to be valued.The right-brained child will use pictorial resources to aid them in visualization so as to concentrate on the semantics. They will also read known or more simple material for the same reason. Asking them to read aloud during this time, or quizzing them, is not encouraged. If this time period and process is valued, they will emerge as fluent readers.

5 responses to “Learning to Read – Typical Right-Brained Traits

  1. Pingback: The Natural Learning Development for Right-Brained Children | The Right Side of Normal

  2. Just wanted to say that since learning about how I needed to shift the way I facilitated reading for my 8-yo son from Cindy 2 months ago, we’ve had some great things happen. First is the connection it brought. My son felt understood, every time I would ask a question about whether something “right brained” would work better for him, he seemed to just glow. I stopped asking him to read aloud every day or do written phonics-based work, which formed the basis of our language instruction before. Instead I have been encouraging him to listen to book-and-CD sets from the library (with carefully chosen content). We’ve also been doing some flash-card work with sight words, alternating exercises (core work, pull-ups, etc, which he actually likes!) with the very common Dolch words. My explanation was that he needs to have a bank of words that he recognizes so that “when he reads he can do it faster so the meaning flows better into his brain.” We also started a root-word program to develop his ability to decode “big” words.
    Last night I handed him a comic book and asked him to read silently for a few minutes…and he wouldn’t put it down. He stayed up late to read the whole 96 page book! The most exciting thing to me is that he wants to read more, and has asked for the rest of the series. I have worried so much that I had killed the potential book-lover in him by being impatient and going about helping him learn to read in ways that were more frustrating than helpful.

  3. This is my son exactly.

  4. are you talking about kids who are creative or kids with learning disabilities?

    • I’m talking about kids who are creative. These are typical traits, not traits that always occur. There can be creative children who learn to read between 5 and 7, or even earlier. There are creative children who can pick up phonics just fine. People automatically assume “learning disability” because of learning to read between 8 and 10, but that isn’t necessarily even normally true. But, in school, because of the pressures to read by 2nd grade at the latest, a learning disability label occurs to pull them away from the group of children who are moving on with reading intensive instruction.

      Bottom line, not every creative child will read between 8 and 10, and not every creative child will have a learning disability, but those who are diagnosed with a learning disability are right-brained, and those who typically learn to read between 8 and 10 are probably creative children.

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