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5 Signs of Struggling Readers

Updated: Apr 21, 2023

You may have a lot of questions on how to decide the next steps with your young learner. You might be wondering if your child is a struggling reader or just avoiding reading altogether. You've likely exhausted your research looking for signs, symptoms, and most importantly, solutions to help your child with this very critical skill. All to figure out, "does my child need reading intervention?" or, "do they just dislike reading?"

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For children struggling with reading, they may have difficulty with other skills such as writing, spelling and comprehension. They may tend to have poor grades and read below grade level. If this is happening, reading can become stressful and frustrating for both the parent and child.

Luckily, there are specific reading behaviors you can look out for if you suspect that your child is struggling. The first step is understanding the signs of a struggling reader then helping them get the right support.

Understanding Reading Difficulties In Children

Before we begin, it's important to understand how our mind learns so that we can better understand how to support the ways our children learn. The four most common ways: Visual, Sound, Reading and Writing, and Sensory.

As certified reading interventionists, we are able to match different modes of learning with specific learning strategies to improve comprehension and motivation. For instance:

  • Visual learners prefer graphics, maps, images, etc.

  • Auditory learners prefer listening or speaking such as lectures, discussions and repetition.

  • Read/Write learners prefer words, note-taking, and translating concepts into essays.

  • Sensory learners prefer working with their hands and physical objects.

That's not to say our minds don't prefer a mixture of all the different types of learning styles. However, there are some learners that prefer one over all others. For example, dyslexic learners tend to be visual learners. They are able to visualize and creatively conceptualize objects within their mind, but can get confused when working with two-dimensional words and numbers. Therefore, techniques with dyslexic learners would include visual supports.

Please note: While we cannot diagnose learning disabilities, we are experienced in supporting students with different types of learning styles. If you're curious about your child's learning abilities, we offer reading assessments as part of our services. Still have more questions? Check below for signs your child might need literacy intervention.

5 Signs Your Child Needs Literacy Intervention

Quick exercise: Have your child read a grade-level book. After you're done, if you still have questions, give us a call.

  1. Difficulty Rhyming. Rhyming means the child can process sounds. Students that continue to have a hard time producing a rhyme or deciphering rhyming words may be struggling with a learning disability or possibly dyslexia. Our Reading Interventionists are experienced in helping students build the skills necessary to hear and manipulate sounds which sets the foundation for reading success.

  2. Doesn't Hear Individual Sounds. A struggling reader may have trouble hearing each of the sounds in a word, such as "a" in apple. This may indicate the child has a learning disability, auditory issue or just simply needs additional support. We help children who struggle with this skill by teaching them to break words into their individual sounds and parts.

  3. Can't Re-Tell a Story. A struggling reader may find it very challenging to tell the events of a story they just read or to understand and explain the main idea and supporting details. Children who take longer to process, or are distracted easily, may tend to forget what they just read. Neurological processes that affect memory and how information is produced can interfere with how we remember what we just learned. As Reading Interventionists, we help student to recall what they have read by teaching them active reading strategies that help them remember, understand and store the information they have read.

  4. Adds or Removes Sounds to Words. Some students have a hard time sounding out words, otherwise known as decoding. They may add or remove sounds from words. For example, a student may remove the "r" from "cart" and read the word as "cat." Our Reading Specialists work with students who are struggling in this area by teaching them the syllable patterns, letter sounds, and ensure that they have the skills to hear and manipulate the sounds in a word.

  5. Avoids Reading Aloud. A struggling reader may not have the confidence to read aloud either in class or at home. Children struggling may feel shy or embarrassed about making a mistake. Reading might make them feel anxious and they may often say, "I can't do it," or "I don't understand." Our solution is to boost the child's confidence by building upon their strengths and identifying their weaknesses so we can close their reading gap.

How to Get Support

If your child is currently showing one or more of these signs, there may be a weakness that is affecting their ability to read with mastery. However, this is not a comprehensive list.

Every child is unique in their abilities. This information is only here to help you gain knowledge and an understanding about what may be causing your child's reading struggles. Please know, none of this means you are a "bad" parent and it has nothing to do with your child's level of intelligence. It simply means they are unique learners and can benefit from additional reading support.

Our staff at Smart Start Tutors is here to help you navigate next steps. We have over 20 years of combined experience supporting students with a wide-range of abilities including Dyslexia, ADD, ADHD, emerging readers, and developing readers. We use research-based, multi-sensory techniques to reach your child at their EXACT level of need which allows us to help them make the most progress in the quickest amount of time.

Each child receives individualized reading intervention plans incorporating resources from the best online reading programs for struggling readers. Each of our tutors are dedicated to closing the reading gap while instilling confidence and a love for reading in every child.

If you would like to learn more about your child's learning abilities and how our online reading tutors can support them, get started for free with a discovery call from our Certified Reading Interventionist.

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