• M. Kovack

Cognitive Roots of Learning to Read

Updated: Mar 23, 2020

Two major capacities impact our ability to read:

1) Our capacity to understand spoken language; and

2) Our capacity to recognize words in print.

These capacities impact one another. So when children come to school having had many interesting conversations at home, having read more books, and having been exposed to a large vocabulary, they have a better chance of developing strong language comprehension skills, which than impacts their ability to understand what they read later on.

And when they come to school having experience with rhyme, syllables, first sounds in words, and shown how these sounds map onto print with letters, these children have a better chance at developing strong word recognition skills.

When one of these systems is weak, however (e.g., children with weak word recognition skills are usually described as having dyslexia, which has to do with the way their brain is structured and functions), then the other system may certainly help that weakness. If both systems are strong, it makes it just so much more efficient from the beginning.


Tunmer, W. E., & Hoover, W. A. (2019). The cognitive foundations of learning to read: A framework for preventing and remediating reading difficulties. Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties, 24(1), 75-93. doi:10.1080/19404158.2019.1614081

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