Importance of Sub-skills

We often think of learning an ability as mastering a single skill.  However, most abilities are complex, that is they consist of several sub-skills which combined constitute the given ability. This is particularly important to keep in mind when teaching young children.

For example the ability to read consists of many sub-skills:

Letter recognition

Letter sequencing (spelling)

Word meaning (vocabulary – comprehension)

Visual Closure

You can’t just decide to teach a child to read. First the child must master the sub-skills involved beginning with the most basic and then building a pyramid of sub-skills culminating in the ability to read.

I Can Spell – Alphabet Puzzle

Working with a simple alphabet puzzle ( I Can Spell – Alphabet  Puzzle) which is just a puzzle to the child, stimulates the ability to recognize letters and learn their names. Building upon this the child must learn to sequence letters to form the words that are part of the child’s vocabulary (Spellmaster).

At the highest level a child can learn to perceive a written word without seeing all of the letters, and understand the meaning of a sentence without seeing the entire sentence. This is called visual closure (Picture Completion).

These abilities must be developed over time and in a progressive manner starting with the easiest and most basic and building toward the more difficult and complex.  It is never too early to start: vocabulary (words and what they mean), letter recognition, word recognition, spelling and then reading.

And of course motivation is of utmost importance, so read to your child early and often in order to participate in the positive experience of reading.

Lawrence M. Mestyanek, Ph.D.

President, TAG Toys, Inc.


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