How to Help a Child Struggling With Reading

How to Help a Child Struggling With Reading

You may have noticed a few indicators that your child isn’t doing well with reading. This could but doesn’t have to be a sign of trouble. Children develop skills at different times, and just because everyone else in their class is reading doesn’t mean there’s a serious issue. But if you do notice your child having trouble, it makes sense to look into it. 

We’ll talk about the signs you may be seeing in more detail below, but enough to say here that there is help and hope despite your concerns. 

Related: How to Catch Up in School When You Start to Fall Behind

How can I know if my child has a reading problem?

You may be able to tell that your child has a reading problem by noticing any of the following signs:

  • Your child’s reading level is below average.
  • Your child has difficulty recognizing words they should know or confusing similar words.
  • They have difficulty sounding out words.
  • They have problems with reading comprehension.
  • There is a lack of fluency in their reading. 
  • They have anxiety around reading.
  • They avoid reading altogether.
  • They have a hard time connecting previous knowledge with what they’ve just read.
  • Spelling and writing are difficult for your child.
  • Reading and writing assignments take your child an unusually long time to complete.
  • They have difficulty focusing on their reading

Why is my child having a hard time reading?

You may be wondering why your child is having a hard time. Here are just a few of the reasons a child may have reading difficulties:

  • They have difficulty recognizing individual sounds in speech. This means they may not have phonemic awareness.
  • They lack comprehension of what they are reading.
  • They have difficulty with sounding out words (decoding) and recognizing the familiar parts of words. 
  • They have limited English language skills.
  • They have limited exposure to books.
  • They are not receiving reading instruction that’s suited to the way they learn.   

In addition to the above reasons, here are a few other possibilities:


Dyslexia is a common disorder that affects your child’s ability to read, write, and do math. It makes decoding difficult, as well as reading fluency and accuracy. Dyslexia also affects reading comprehension. 

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD is a common disorder affecting people’s ability to focus. Several other conditions associated with ADHD include challenges with impulsivity, organization, working memory, and other skills called executive function

Slow Processing Speed

This can affect your child’s ability to read well because it takes them longer to take in information and make a response. It’s comorbid with ADHD and dyslexia – which means that it often occurs with these two disorders. However, slow processing doesn’t mean that your child is less intelligent. This disorder is only about the speed of information processing. 

Visual or Auditory Processing Disorders

A visual processing disorder will hinder your child’s ability to deal with visual information. Similarly, an auditory processing disorder disrupts your child’s ability to analyze heard information. These disorders are not about sight or hearing problems. They’re about the brain’s interpretation of presented info.

Woman helping a child to read a book.


Related: Habits of Successful Students That You Need to Incorporate   

How can I improve my child’s reading?

So now that you know there is a problem, what can you do to help your child improve their reading? According to ADDitude Magazine, here are a few things you can try:

  • Find interesting books on their level. If your child makes more than one error in every ten words they read, the book may be too difficult for them. Find books that are easier for them to read.
  • Consider audiobooks. Not only will this make it easier for them to read along, but they can develop a love for reading that they may have lost due to their difficulties. Audiobooks will also help with reading comprehension, extended attention, and focus.
  • Limit screen time. Too much time on mobile devices, television, or other screen-related activities is correlated with poor academic performance. Screen time must be monitored.  
  • Find reading support for them as soon as possible. If you even suspect your child is struggling, taking early action could make all the difference. If your child is having problems early on, the issues will likely worsen as time goes on without intervention. Find competent and compassionate professionals who understand reading difficulties and know what to do to help your child. A reading tutor will be knowledgeable of the methods and techniques that work.  

Is your child struggling with reading? We can help. Our new reading tutoring approach will have your child quickly developing the skills and confidence to get to their grade level.  Visit Sage Reading Tutors to learn more.

What age should a child read fluently?

Although some children learn earlier, most children learn to read around 6 or 7 years old. This doesn’t mean that you should start pushing your child too early or become anxious if they are not making fast progress at age six. Instead, monitor their growth to ensure that things are moving smoothly.  

What are the 7 strategies of reading?

Here are the seven strategies of effective readers:

  1. Activating: To get meaning from the text by recalling past knowledge and experiences.
  2. Inferring: Extracting meaning from the text.
  3. Monitoring/Clarifying: Thinking about what was read during and after the activity.
  4. Questioning: Generating questions about the text with teachers, other students, and themselves.
  5. Searching/Selecting: Finding appropriate information within the text to answer their questions.
  6. Summarizing: Summing up or restating the original text in their own words.
  7. Visualizing/Organizing: Gaining meaning from the text by using visualization and creativity. 

What can I do if my child is reading below grade level?

If you find that your child is reading below grade level, provide them with lots of opportunities to practice their reading. After a talk with their teacher, consider purchasing or borrowing books at their reading level and below. Give them time to read and reread below-level books. This will build their confidence and fluency. Then help them to read books on their level. You can do this by listening, reading with them, and reading aloud to them. Help them to sound out words, but if they can’t, just tell them the words they don’t know. Be patient and give plenty of genuine praise.  

Related: Early Literacy Skills You Should Be Teaching Your Child

What is the best program to teach your child to read? 

The best program for your child is the one that works for them and gives them confidence and joy. Find a reading tutor who understands your child’s needs and how to help them overcome their difficulties. 

Are you looking for expert reading support for your child? Our tutors are trained to help special needs online or in person. Contact Sage Reading Tutors for more information. 

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