Questions and Answers
There are lots of reasons a child may have trouble with reading. Whether you are wondering if your child has a learning disability or looking for ways to help, these questions will help you support a struggling reader.
Click below for answers to the following struggling readers questions:
I am homeschooling my child, who does well in every subject but reading. Do you have any suggestions for teaching phonics?
This is not a reflection of the intelligence of the children who struggle, but a sign that there may be something impeding their progress. This discrepancy between ability and achievement is, in part, what defines a learning disability. It can be difficult to hear that your child may have a learning disability, but it is important to keep in mind that, by definition, people with learning disabilities have average to above average intelligence. They may need to be taught in a different way than they've previously been taught and may need to be shown learning strategies that work for them.
Why can't my child re-read a word in a sentence that she just sounded out?
This may happen because she is concentrating so hard on the decoding (sounding out), that she is unable to remember and comprehend the full sentence. This is a good indication that the books she is reading are too challenging for her at this time.
The next time you and your child choose books, you may want to ask her teacher, a librarian, or a reading specialist to help you find "just right" books for your child. These should be books that your child is interested in and that she can read with about 95% accuracy the first time. Ask her to read a page or two aloud while you silently count the errors from the total numbers of words on the pages she reads. This will give you an estimate of her accuracy.
By reading "just right" books, your daughter will practice all aspects of reading, including fluency and comprehension. And comprehension, ultimately, is the goal of reading! As she reads "just right" books, her ability to decode words will become even more automatic. As she gains proficiency, the text will become more meaningful because she will be able to understand and enjoy what she is reading.
Check out Reading Rockets' recommended books by theme for some ideas!
What can I do at home to help my second grader who struggles with reading?
I have a student who has trouble blending phonemes. Any suggestions?
What remedial reading methods work best for students with learning disabilities?
Is there anything I can do at home to help my dyslexic child learn to read and spell?
Even though the English language is complex, dyslexic children CAN learn phonics! They need the support of a sequential, multisensory, structured reading program, and solid reading support at home (including reading together, playing games that isolate sounds or build words, etc.).
The Reading Rockets website focuses entirely on reading and how to help kids who struggle. See, for example, the section on strategies to help kids who struggle. Also check out this page for parents, which gives you tips on what you can do at home.
And here is a link to LD Online's collection of articles on dyslexia.
I'm concerned that my kindergartener is not progressing with reading and writing at the rate of her classmates. We try to sit her down to practice sight words, but she loses interest and doesn't remember them the next day. How can I help her?
A disinterest in learning sight words is most likely due to the fact that she is not developmentally ready yet. You may want to hold off practicing sight words for a little while and instead focus on incorporating reading and writing into the everyday fun activities that you share, such as reading a recipe and baking together, writing a grocery list, and sending notes to each other and other family members.
Allow her to scribble letters without correction and use letter magnets and stamps. Take dictation while she tells you her ideas. In this way, she will discover the joy, power and practicality of literacy and will be inspired to learn more as she is ready, rather than getting bogged down in the mechanics of reading and writing.
Many children want their home to be a more relaxed place with less explicit instruction than a typical school setting. This doesn't mean that real learning can't take place at home, but it can be presented in a way that is playful and fun for both of you.
One of the most valuable gifts you can give your daughter is to instill in her a love of reading and writing and a genuine curiosity and desire to learn. She will take this gift with her throughout her lifetime.
My child is having trouble identifying sight words. What can I do to help?
There are many ways to help your child develop his reading skills. Sight words can be practiced using flashcards, which you can easily make at home using index cards. Use pictures, symbols and colors to help reinforce the word.
Adding fun activities like writing the words in shaving cream, in the sand, on a chalkboard, or using magnetic letters may be motivating for your young learner, and is a good way to help him feel the shape of the word.
Also, point to words in stories you are reading. Stop on a familiar sight word (like: the, that, this, and) so your child can fill in the word.
My daughter is reading below grade level. What can I do to help her become a good reader and get to a point where she enjoys reading?
Beginning readers need lots of practice reading it takes time, practice, time, and more practice! Work with your daughter's teacher to learn exactly at what level she is reading. Then, go to the library and load up on books written at that level and below. Provide her with time each day to read and reread those below reading level books. You'll want to build up her confidence and fluency with those books. Then, support her reading by reading her the books at her instructional level. Prompt her to sound out words that can be sounded out (and just tell her the ones that can't or are too tricky). Praise her efforts and reread each book multiple times over the course of a week or two. Finally, get some terrific children's literature written above her reading level. Model lots of good expression and let her hear what good, fluent reading sounds like. Check Reading Rockets' Books & Authors section for some great titles!
Do everything you can to provide a fun climate for reading. If a book is too hard, put it away. Reinforce her efforts and continue to work closely with your school and teachers. If she continues to struggle, talk with them about additional testing and some one-on-one supervised tutoring.