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Tanya T Kaefer, Graduate Student    Edit

Tanya T Kaefer

Research Summary:
Learning to read in English is a task that is governed by contradictions. A letter makes a certain sound, except when it doesn’t, certain letter combinations don’t go together, except when they do, and certain sounds are represented with certain letters, except when they aren’t. Given all the irregularities and exceptions in the English writing system it’s often less amazing that many children struggle with learning to read than that most children pick it up at all. Learning how children begin the process of learning the rules governing written language before they have formal instruction gives us the benefit of knowing where the average child starts in his or her understanding of written language. Knowing this gives us the ability to evaluate and adapt curriculum to utilize children's strengths and pick up slack where they may have weakness. The understanding and application of the rules of a writing system is collectively known as orthographic knowledge. My work intends to explore children’s earliest approaches to reading by examining their orthographic knowledge and it’s relationship to phonological decoding, and spelling.

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