Struggling Readers

1 in 5 kids in the U.S. struggle with issues related to reading, writing, math, focus and organization. These kids with learning issues are as smart as their peers, but too many aren’t getting the support they need to succeed.

National Centers for Learning Disabilities

Is My Child Just a “Late” Reader?

Article: Understanding the Difference Between a ‘Late’ Reader and a Child with a Learning Issue by Laura Lambert

It is estimated that as much as 20% of the population experiences some reading disability. It can be difficult to tease out whether students will eventually catch on or if they are truly facing a disability. There are some telltale signs that a trained educator or specialist can detect.

Some students have not had effective reading instruction. Other children have not had adequate exposure to reading before Kindergarten, while some children may have a reading disability, such as dyslexia, which makes reading very challenging. There are some children who face all of these scenarios combined! The good news is that children can overcome their difficulties with the right support from trained educators and specialists. Reading disabilities are not related to a child’s intelligence.

No matter what issue the child is facing, they will require excellent reading instruction from a teacher or tutor with extensive knowledge and a deep understanding of how to teach reading. Early intervention is key to supporting students who are struggling with reading – do not wait and see. Familiarize yourself with the expected reading or pre-reading skills for your child’s age and grade level to understand which skills your child may need additional support in. Your child’s teacher should be the first point of contact for any reading concerns. They can provide clear insight into the expected grade level skills as well as diagnostic or screening reports about your child’s reading abilities.

Seeing your child struggle and suffer can be difficult for families to experience. It can also affect a child’s self-esteem when they witness classmates reading confidently.  If you are worried, don’t delay in your search for answers.

Guidelines for Concerned Parents

Be a Relentless Advocate

Advocate for your child and try to pinpoint the exact reading problems your child is facing. Tell your pediatrician how you see your child struggling. Ask for an appointment with your child’s teacher and voice your concerns. The research is very clear about what to look for and parents should not wait until 2nd or 3rd grade to ask for help. You have a right to ask for an educational evaluation at any time from your public school. If you would like to take more urgent action, contact a local experienced clinical psychologist who can administer a learning disability evaluation. Ask your pediatrician for a recommendation.

Keep Reading: Continue to build reading skills with patience

Don’t stop reading aloud to your child because you see them struggling on their own. Storytelling is central to human existence. Even if they are grappling with the mechanics, they still need the pleasure and experience of being immersed in a good book.

Their Strengths Define Them

Focus and highlight your child’s strengths so they know they are more than their reading difficulties. Your child needs to know that you believe in them.

Get Help Sooner than Later

Be wary of holding your child back; waiting another year will only put off needed help. Unlike other normal childhood stages, learning to read is not going to be a “natural” activity for many children. The window for learning to read is critical in the Kindergarten to 2nd grade years, and the sooner you can get help and resources for your child, the more success they will begin to experience.

Finding answers to your concerns will provide relief and allow you to approach helping your child with a renewed sense of hope for their reading.