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Helping Children With Reading Difficulties

Helping kids with reading difficulties

Most children begin reading and writing by the first, second, or third grade. By the time they are adults, most can’t recall or can’t remember what it was like not to be able to read and write, or how difficult it was to figure out how to translate patterns on a page into words, thoughts, and ideas. These same adults usually cannot understand why some children have not yet begun to read and write by the third grade. They have even more difficulty understanding how adults can function in our society with only the most rudimentary literacy skills.

There is growing evidence that it might be more appropriate to refer to the amount of time a learner takes to complete a reading task rather than using qualitative labels, such as good, best, or poor reader. If we accept the premise that all individuals are capable of learning to read but some need to stretch their learning time, slow readers could read shorter passages. In this way, they could finish a story and experience the success of sharing it with a parent or friend.

Helpful Reading Materials

As is the case with most learners, slower readers learn most comfortably with materials that are written on their ability level. The reading level is of primary concern, but parents can help their reader select helpful materials in other ways. Choose stories or books with:

  • a reduced number of difficult words

  • short passages that deliver clear messages

  • helpful illustrations

A positive attitude on the part of the child is also crucial to the treatment of difficulties in reading and learning. Tutors who have worked consistently with problem learners are very aware of the role of the self in energising learning, and the potential damage to the sense of self-worth that comes from labelling.

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