Sometimes parents are very uncertain of the signs of reading difficulties, and when to reach out for extra help. You may get mixed messages about your child’s progress from friends, relatives, or sometimes even teachers.
You may hear comments like, “Relax, it will come!” and “He’s a boy, they start to read later,” or “Leave him alone. He’s just like me, and I did okay.”
However, early intervention really matters. People who experience reading difficulties often have a weakness in sounding out words and may never become fully fluent readers. The sooner you can begin to address the underlying weaknesses, and help your child to grow in these areas, the less severe the negative impact to their overall academic progress and developing self-esteem.
Signs that a Child May be at Risk of Reading Problems
- a mild delay in learning to talk
- difficulty pronouncing words past the usual age, “baby-talk”, “pisgetti” instead of “spagetti”
- difficulty learning words that rhyme, trouble learning nursery rhymes
Early school age:
- difficulty learning letter names and the sounds they make (ask teacher how many they’ve been taught/how many they know)
- not progressing through the expected levels in levelled book systems
- not remembering grade level sight words
- when speaking, may fill in with words like “stuff” and “thing” when they can’t recall the names of items
- not reading at the end of Grade 1
- difficulty tying shoes
Later school age:
- reading below grade level
- not decoding, over-relying on context clues
- inserting words that have similar meanings, but looking very different (i.e. “car” for “automobile”)
- missing small words in the text (e.g. the)
- reading is choppy, stilted, has poor rhythm
- poor spelling
- poor handwriting
Reading difficulties run in families, so relatives may also have had reading difficulties.
Getting Help: Community, School, Private Tutors
If you have concerns about your child’s progress in reading, it is never too early to find out what you can do to help at home to being to support them. Source of help include health professionals, government and community resources, your child’s school, and private tutors and educational service providers.
If your child is quite young, and you are concerned about their speech development, speak with your doctor, daycare provider, or government agency in your county, city or district that has services to support and monitor child development.
Public libraries and non-profit literacy agencies have programming to support young learners, as well.
For your school-age child, speak with your child’s teacher, special education teacher or Principal, about your concerns. Also discuss your concerns with your doctor.
If you have the means, private tutors and reading specialists can provide increased access to the right type of intervention, at the right time, as well.
Shaywitz, Sally, M.D. Overcoming Dyslexia, Vintage Books, 2003.
Cook Moats, Louisa, Ed.D., and Dakin, Karen E., M.Ed.,Basic Facts About Dyslexia & Other Reading Problems, The International Dyslexia Association, Baltimore, Maryland, 2008.
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Donna Stewart is owner of The Reading Network, which provides one-to-one reading intervention services, online and e-learning products. She is a former school administrator, Reading Specialist, Special Education Specialist, lover of literacy and e-learning.
The Reading Network
The Reading Network provides reading intervention services to the comfort of your home, to schools and community agencies, online, via web-conferencing software. You can find more information about The Reading Network on our website or by calling 1-519-372-5674.