Articles by Yaakov Aichenbaum

Slow Down!

alef bais

A young child singing himself to sleep at night to the letters of the alef bais is nachas to parents’ ears. A first- or second-grade child who is struggling to learn the letters and nekudos is a source of concern and worry. Why is it that some children find it more difficult to become fluent in kriah (Hebrew reading) than others?

Actually, the development of reading (and kriah) skills is a well-researched and understood topic. A simple understanding of the wondrous brain that Hashem created sheds tremendous light on the kriah process. Basically, beginning readers process written text with the frontal lobe of their brain. The frontal lobe is slow, analytical, and requires conscious effort. That is why beginning readers will often whisper what they are reading quietly to themselves before saying it out loud. As kriah skills are mastered, kriah processing moves to the occipital lobe in the rear of the brain. The occipital lobe processes written text instantly without conscious thought. This shift is what produces kriah fluency.

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