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Inside the kindergartner's brain

What insights can neuroscience offer parents about the mind of a kindergartner?

By Hank Pellissier

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Reading help in kindergarten

Learning to read by "sounding out" letters in words is difficult for many kindergartners, even if their brain's auditory development is excellent. One reason, notes Jeannine Herron, Ph.D., author of Making Speech Visible, is that memorizing the alphabet is misleading, because letter titles — A, B, C, etc. — don't sound precisely like the sounds they represent. For example, the letter G has a J sound, H is way off-base with its "AAACH" pronunciation, and all the vowels can be utilized with more than one sound. This difficulty delays thousands of struggling readers. To circumvent this, Herron recommends teaching kindergartners to "pay attention to what their mouth is doing" when they learn phonemes.

Photo credit: DeeMac

Hank Pellissier is a freelance writer whose fiction and essays have been been widely published and anthologized. A former columnist for Salon and SF Gate, he is a regular contributor to h+ Magazine.