Cognitive solutions before fourth grade

All grades are important, but the end of third grade is a critical and pivotal time in the lives of young students, because basic reading skills are expected to be completed before fourth grade. Children entering 4th grade are expected to read to learn rather than learn to read, and to have sufficient vocabulary and reading skills to read and understand 4th grade work.

The list of language skills a fourth grader should know includes:

• Practical knowledge of phonetics and knowing how to analyze and decode words.

• understand all representations of letters and sounds,

• syllabification rules, how to divide age-appropriate words into syllables and word patterns,

• word structure and formation (morphology) roots and affixes

• read fluently enough to understand

• ability to read with understanding and purpose

• read grade-appropriate poetry and prose

• Read grade-appropriate poetry and prose, demonstrating reading accuracy, expression, and speed.

• ability to self-correct when decoding words or reading sight-recognizable words and rereading them if necessary

However, in 2015, the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that two out of three 4th grade children were not reading at acceptable levels, and that 65% of 4th grade students were reading at or below 4th grade level. .

Cognitive skills and intelligence

Intelligence does not always translate into performance and the skills needed to read and learn. A child may be smart, but have many learning disabilities and not perform well in school. If a child is weak in any of the following skills, their job performance will suffer:

• poor long-term memory,

• short-term memory,

• Processing speed

• visualization,

• visual memory,

• logic and reasoning

• Simultaneous and sequential processing skills Children with

Think of your child or a child you know who is very smart but:

• avoid reading,

• forget recently learned information,

• works slowly,

• works hard, but still underperforms

• you do not understand the instructions,

• cannot perform two or three tasks in order,

• makes careless mistakes,

• or takes too long to finish the job.

A student may have enough short-term memory, but processing is slow, evidenced by the fact that they rarely complete a test or assignment on time. Whereas, another student may not be able to remember the steps of a math word problem, because short-term memory and simultaneous and sequential processing are slow. In fact, in the classroom, many accommodations for children with learning disabilities could be reduced or eliminated if training in cognitive development were a requirement in the early grades. Mental tools allow a child to learn, understand and understand any type of instruction, information or subject.

Response to intervention (RTI)

In most cases, remediation does not include systematic cognitive training in the process. RTI is the most widely practiced remediation or intervention program in the public school system. RTI, in the elementary grades, focuses on instruction, extra help, and monitoring progress. Unfortunately, children will have difficulty processing instruction or progressing if they have deficiencies in cognitive skills. Thus, elementary school children will quickly fall behind in reading if attention and concentration are poor, information processing is slow, or memory is poor despite extra help. If a child enters Level I without sufficient cognitive skills, the probability of a downward spiral to Level 2 and Level 3 is likely. Once a child enters the RTI process without the skills necessary to learn, valuable time is wasted trying and failing. At a minimum, cognitive skills should be tested upon entry or during Level 1, saving the child years of frustration and failure. Cognitive skills tests are not always available in public schools and parents may need to request them. If a child has not been assessed for Level 2 or 3, it is imperative that they be tested, especially if a child is on an Individualized Education Program (IEP). If a child needs professional cognitive training and the parent requests it, the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) requires a public school to provide this service.

How the training works

Cognitive skills training develops an individual’s ability to learn by training the brain to learn faster and easier through the use of specific activities and exercises. Cognitive skills include:

• perception,

• attention,

• concentration,

• mental and visual processing,

• short and long term memory

• visual memory

• visualization,

• divided attention,

• simultaneous and sequential processing,

In cognitive training, a child reaches a goal, but quickly moves from that goal to his challenge level. The level of challenge is beyond the child’s ability to do so without being asked or assisted. As each objective of the exercise is achieved, the child progresses to the next goal or objective. This intense training brings more information into the realm of unconscious or machine learning. A child gains the confidence to continue learning, as he begins to perform tasks that were previously considered impossible. Processing speed increases, memory improves, and learning becomes easier and faster with less stress and effort.

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