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Put Downs & Comebacks: I’ll Never Learn How to Read

When your child says “I’ll never learn how to read”

It can be disconcerting for your child to know that he is struggling with something that seems to come so easily to everyone else. Acknowledge that learning to read is a challenge for him, but that everyone has challenges in his or her life.

What your child may be trying to tell you

  • I feel alone in my struggle with reading.
  • I have been working so hard and I haven’t made any progress.
  • I feel like giving up.

How you can respond

  • Show empathy for your child’s struggle.
  • Remind your child that learning any new skill takes practice.
  • Help your child see the progress he’s made.

Encourage the child who struggles

Show empathy for your child’s struggle

It may be helpful to share some of the challenges that you’ve personally faced. Together, you can research famous people who have worked through their disabilities to do extraordinary things. Reassure him that he is capable of learning how to read and that with continued determination, patience, and hard work he will become a reader.

Remind your child that learning any new skill takes practice

Discuss the many things he can do, such as walk, talk, tie his shoes, and ride his bike. He had to work at these skills but eventually mastered them. His homework, class work, and the reading he does with you at home are the means by which he can practice his reading skills to mastery.

Help your child see the progress he’s made.

Your child is so close to the struggle, that it may be difficult for him to see his progress in reading. Pull out some of his old schoolwork and compare it to his recent work, check out library books that he can read but were challenging for him before, ask his teachers to share results of his reading assessments, and every few months, tape record him reading so that he can hear for himself the progress he is making.