In order for fluent reading with good comprehension to take place, a student needs to be able to process sounds accurately and quickly. When auditory processing is slow or inaccurate students will have a very difficult time moving past the One-Word-At-A-Time style of reading, no matter how much they practice.
It takes a lot for our brains to master this complex skill
So how does reading happen?
Our eyes see words coming in peripheral vision before we actually look at them, and sound structure follows almost instantaneously. By the time words come into central vision, fluent readers already understand what they are reading. When words are scanned in peripheral vision, it frees up processing capacity in working memory to think about meaning.
Faster, synchronized processing develops faster and more efficient neural networks which allows reading to start subconsciously in peripheral vision. A typical reading brain has about 50 milliseconds to confirm that the sentence created subconsciously is correct.
Reading is not a destination, it's a journey.
Printed text is speech converted into visual symbols. Reading is the conversion of visual symbols back into speech.
Children are born pre-programmed to develop listening and speaking skills naturally, but the need to read came very late in our evolutionary history. Our brains have not had time to develop reading skills naturally.
Reading needs to be taught and mastered layer by layer, starting with simple skills, then working up to higher level ones. Some children learn to read by themselves. Most need some help, and some cannot manage at all.
The ultimate goal of reading is being able to read fluently with good comprehension. Good comprehension requires accurate and rapid reading rate, so that a child can hold a sentence together, long enough to make sense of it.
Typical readers, who have mastered multiple layers of essential skills, have developed highly interconnected neural networks near the speech and language areas, in the left hemisphere of their brain. These networks function like a high speed broadband connection converting what the eyes see directly into meaning without the reader having to think about it.