A Few Thoughts on Reading Difficulties

Reading is so important to learning. Once a person can read, a whole world of information becomes available to him. For this reason, we strive to teach our kids to read when they are five or six years old. And most of the time this works. But sometimes, sometimes, the child is just not ready or has a hard time learning how to read.

I have a late reader. A couple actually. One of them started reading around her eighth birthday, and reads fairly proficiently now. She is a hands on learner and does not love reading. None the less, she reads. She reads story books, comics, and non-fiction books. Her favorite ones are craft books.

My second late reader is ten now and is a beginning reader still. Some days I get discouraged. I mean, reading at eight is one thing. But ten? Yikes, I’m feeling it! Alas, there is hope.

Don’t give up. Learning to read takes time. Be patient.

Take a break. Sometimes the child is just not ready.

Try different approaches. Different learning styles may require other ways to get to the end goal. My first two kids read books of any kind after only minimal and very informal phonics instruction. My third child required rereading a short text many times to memorize those words and then started reading chapter books of movies she liked so that she would already know what she was reading about. And my last child needs phonics readers that are organized and slowly growing in difficulty.

Make it fun. Make reading a time to look forward to. Sometimes this means I read to her more than she reads to me. It also means letting her choose the books. She needs the phonics readers, but they are not interesting. We use those for instruction, but we make sure to read more books of interest. It is important that she has a good opinion of the act of reading.

Look for progress. The skill of reading is not just A and Z. There are lots of little steps in between. Celebrate those little victories. They add up. I still see her as a beginning reader. But when I look at the little books we started with a year ago (with a new approach) compared to the books she is reading now, there has been great progress. She isn’t reading where the “average” ten year old reads, but she has made a year of progress.

Notice other successes. Reading is important, but it is not everything. Find out what the child is good at. Is she a good builder? Athletic? A story teller? A cook? Knowledgeable about science? A good friend? Make sure that you value those things about her. Build her up. Encourage her in what she is naturally good at. I guarantee she already knows where she stands in reading when it is difficult for her. She knows other kids are ahead of her. Work on those reading skills, but don’t forget to focus on all of the good things too!

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