Watching your child learn to read can be an exciting time for many families. Reading is the place where all of our academic skills begin.
However, many children do not pick up reading as quickly as their peers do. Some children might soon begin to dislike reading. Given that reading is such a major part of the school day, if reading is really challenging, your child may then begin to dislike school.
This time can be scary for a family as you try to set your child on a path for academic and career success. When a child struggles in reading, his or her self-esteem may take a hit.
You might find that your child has missing assignments or low grades. It also could be that your child lacks confidence in his or her own academic abilities and becomes stressed or embarrassed when asked to read aloud.
Your child may cry or refuse homework, rendering homework time a war zone at your home.
What do challenges with Basic Reading Skills look like?
- Struggling with poor reading performance?
- Having trouble across subjects in school that require reading?
- Struggling to learn how to read?
- Failing to recognize letters?
- Reading aloud slowly, inaccurately, and effortfully?
- Working hard but still not a good reader?
- Falling behind?
- Avoiding reading for fun?
- Bursting into tears if you ask him to read to you?
Why is Basic Reading Skills happening?
Basic reading skills are an individual’s ability to see and read words accurately. This includes sounding out words, decoding words correctly, identifying letter sounds, and proper pronunciation. Another skill here is ‘fluency’ which refers to the ability to read smoothly and at an appropriate pace. Problems here may impact spelling because of the difficulty sounding out words correctly. Significant issues with basic reading skills are associated with learning disabilities such as Dyslexia, or in the school building it is called ‘Specific Learning Disorder in Reading.’ If you suspect your child has a learning disability, it is important to have the school do an assessment to see what supports are needed. Dyslexia is lifelong but there is a lot that intervention can do to help individuals with these issues thrive at school and in the workplace.
How can I manage Basic Reading Skills at home?
The light at the end of the tunnel is that many children and adults have reading struggles, and these challenges can be overcome with treatment. Early and intensive reading remediation can offer great hope for your child.
A learning disability in reading is generally lifelong but with intervention and support your child can do well. Many people with learning disabilities find a way to live with these challenges and thrive.
Additionally, technology can make academics more accessible, even for the struggling reader. Screen reading programs that read text aloud while your child reads the highlighted portion can be helpful. Dictation programs that allow verbal dictation that is translated into writing can help the struggling reader find a modality in which to complete academic work successfully.
School support: If your child is not effectively learning to read, it is important to talk to your child’s school. It may be that resources are available for intervention through the school’s Response to Intervention program. Significant reading trouble almost always requires remediation and intervention.
If you suspect your child has trouble in this area, it is wise to consult with your child’s school and request an evaluation. Seek tutoring resources outside of school as well, if you can, and learn about psychoeducational testing that may be available privately.
The school process for evaluating reading concerns can be slow and laborious so be patient and persistent. Your child may require a 504 Plan or IEP for services or accommodations like small group reading instruction, tutoring, extra research-based work in phonics and decoding, and use of multisensory strategies for reading.
Tutoring: Support at school may not be enough to combat your child’s challenges. Orton-Gillingham is a multisensory approach to reading that is delivered one-on-one or in a small group setting by a certified professional. Multisensory means using visual, auditory, and tactile information to teach reading. Using memory strategies, a tutor can help children memorize rules about spelling or decoding, recognize word families and see similar vowel patterns or word endings. Wilson Reading and LindaMood Bell are other research-based methods for teaching reading.
Try computer programs. Consider programs that read the text to a child while highlighting the words. Your child can listen to a story while reading along. Some reputable computer programs include:
- Mindplay virtual reading coach: www.mindplay.com
- Starfall: http://www.starfall.com/
- Mobymax: http://www.mobymax.com/curriculum/reading-skills-informational
- IXL: https://www.ixl.com/ela/grade-1
- Waterford: https://www.waterford.org/
- Raz-Kids: https://www.raz-kids.com/
Reading with parents: Parents can try paired reading or choral reading, which means reading together with your child, or alternating page to page. Do not let your child sit with a single word for more than three seconds before providing the word and continuing to read together. This pace will help your child enjoy reading by having a chance to comprehend the material instead of spending minutes decoding a simple sentence.
Provide lots of practice for your child with content he or she enjoys. Use video game or cartoon-themed books; find a version of your favorite Disney movie or go to the library.
Check out books in multi-format text that include read-aloud compatibility, and follow along with your child. Make reading a family activity, and make it fun.
Emotional support: Unfortunately, sometimes children who struggle with their learning tend to experience emotional symptoms. If your child is struggling with his or her learning, and you suddenly see a drop in his general happiness, motivation, or enjoyment of life, it is important to consider whether or not your child has depression or significant emotional distress.
If you see your child refusing or avoiding schoolwork, having tantrums, or giving up easily, these behaviors are red flags for emotional symptoms. In this case, you would be wise to consider an evaluation by a psychologist.