In an article released by the American Scientific it was suggested according to findings of a new study that reading skills are predetermined, that if you are a poor reader relative to peers as a pre-teen you will remain so.
This prediction is due to patterns found in children aged 7-12. Children who develop especially early tend to experience a significant decline in progress over time, whereas children who develop their skills at a ‘normal’ age will consistently experience improvement. This is as a result of the connection between two parts of the brain associated with sound, sight and speech, which determine reading ability by the extent to which they are (or are not) used. In poor readers, it is often the case that the use and experience of the two brain regions is not synchronised whereas the processes work in tandem is proficient readers.
This study caught my attention as since a young age I have been a particularly slow reader, to the point where my teachers and parents just thought I was too lazy to read (which may have been partially true). It has never affected my life greatly however I did wonder why it had improved very little since about the age of 13 or 14. Unfortunately the article does not define what a ‘low level reader’ is, or how this is quantified – whether it’s comprension or speed or a combination – but in terms of speed, in my personal experience it’s a very hard factor to improve.
The positive news from this study is, however, that these developments in neuroscience mean that appropriate teaching methods and categorisation of abilities can be implemented in the classroom, optimising learning for all. We’d all love to be one of those people who can power through a book in a day, but sometimes slow and steady wins the race, right?