Signs Your Child Might Be a Struggling Reader: Advice from a Teacher

Many parents think detecting reading problems in their child is a simple matter. If the child is reading slowly or not enjoying to read, then he is often thought to be having reading problems. However, there are other subtle and not so subtle hints that might lead a parent to suspect that their child is a struggling reader. I have often seen these signals and symptoms in my classroom, and when I see them in a child, I alert the parent and implement techniques and strategies that will help the child to improve their reading. Some of these clues are listed below.

  1. Sometimes, a child having problems with reading will actually be a wonderful word reader, but will have problems stating what he has read. Just because a child is a fluent reader, does not mean they have comprehended what they have taken in. Often times this points to a comprehension problem in a young reader. After your child has read a book, ask him important questions about the book to see how much he has understood.
  2. Holding the book close or farther away. I have found in my years of teaching that often a poor reader will try to hold the book either too close or too far away. We often think this signals poor eyesight, but it often signals that the child is actually concentrating too hard on what they are reading, and trying to adjust the book accordingly.
  3. Often a poor or struggling reader will re read sections or sentences over again. This is often a sign that the child either did not comprehend what they were reading, or they want to read it again to pick up on words that they might not have understood the first time around. If your child has this problem it is often effective to remind them to slow down. After all, being a good reader, is not a race to the finish line.
  4. Rout reading is often a sign of a poor reader. For example, when my daughter was reading Lord of the Rings, she would often want to discuss the book and predict what would happen next. A poor reader will often just be reading verbatim and will not pick up on any predictions of what will happen next in the text.
  5. Avoidance of reading altogether. While many children do not have an avid interest in reading, I have noticed my poor classroom readers will avoid reading and turn to subjects or activities where they feel they might do better. Most children do not want to risk doing something in front of peers that they do not feel they will succeed at. I make it a point not to call on these reluctant readers to read aloud to the class. When we are doing one on one work, I will often work with these children in a small group setting or on a one to one basis.

If your child is showing any of these signs at home, you will want to discuss his reading with his teachers. There is an emphasis in education right not on the reading process, which is not as easy as we once thought it was. Most schools have reading specialists and reading coaches that can help children to learn the skills and techniques that they will need to become a successful reader.

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