*This article was written by our communications intern, Mallory Croak.
Reading should be fun! But what if your child is having difficulty? If you’ve tried many of the tips out there (reading on a walk, at dinner, in a fun setting, trying new themes, etc.) and you still cannot get your child engaged with books, it is time to consider the possibility that your child has a reading problem. But don’t fret! There are many resources available to help.
The first step is pinpointing your reader’s problem. There are various forms of reading difficulty, which manifest in different ways. Here are some of the most common ones:
- Phonological Awareness
This is the ability to break down words and identify individual sound units. Common signs of difficulty with phonological awareness include trouble rhyming words and matching sounds or trouble counting the number of syllables in a word or phrase. As a parent, try to play short and silly rhyming or blending games with your child to practice manipulating sounds. For more information about signs, helpful activities and resources, visit http://www.phonologicalawareness.org/.
These are the words we need to understand in order to communicate effectively. If your child has a hard time understanding age-appropriate texts and conversations, struggles to find the words to describe something, misuses common words, or uses the same set of words often, he/she might have a vocabulary problem. With this problem, exposure is key: have daily conversations with your child and try to incorporate new words; when reading together, take the time to stop and discuss words that are unfamiliar. For more information about developing your child’s vocabulary, check out http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/unit/vocabulary-development-everything-you-need.
A fluent reader is one who reads at a good speed and is accurate with his/her understanding and expression of the words. Those who struggle with fluency read at a slow pace and have choppy intonation or stumble through sentences; this can be caused by difficulty decoding words or grouping words together. Fluency takes practice, so have your child read out loud as much as possible to get comfortable and start reading smoothly. Visit https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/partnering-with-childs-school/instructional-strategies/7-ways-to-improve-reading-fluency#slide-1 for tips!
This is the combination of reading and reasoning. Once your child has decoded and identified words, can he/she interpret the story and characters and draw conclusions about what was read? If your child struggles to understand why something may have happened or what someone is thinking or feeling in a given story, the problem may be comprehension. For more about information, visit http://www.speechlanguage-resources.com/reading-comprehension-problems.html.
This involves the cognitive skills needed for comprehension as well as memory power. Understanding and remembering what is read are necessary abilities for your child to have. If he/she is unable to summarize or recount texts or has a hard time connecting them to prior knowledge and experiences, there might be a retention problem. When reading with your child, ask questions throughout as check-points for understanding and encourage him/her to go back and re-read parts that weren’t retained. For help with reading retention, visit http://www.kumon.com/resources/develop-your-childs-reading-retention-skills/.
Keep an eye out for these tendencies—if your child seems disinterested or frustrated with reading, consider a larger difficulty he/she might be having. Remember to talk with your child’s teacher and reach out for guidance. With a little help, your child can enjoy reading!